McKenzie contract now worth $22 million
It took an entire year, an acrimonious holdout and a trade, but veteran cornerback Mike McKenzie finally landed the big-money contract he had been seeking.
The six-year veteran on Saturday reached agreement with the New Orleans Saints on a three-year extension through the 2009 season. The five-year contract created by the extension -- McKenzie had two years remaining on his old deal -- is worth $22 million.
McKenzie will receive a $7 million signing bonus. The base salaries are $550,000 (for 2005), $1.5 million (2006), $2 million (2007), $3 million (2008) and $4.45 million (2009). There are roster bonuses of $1 million each for the 2006-2008 seasons and also annual workout bonuses of $125,000. McKenzie can earn an additional $3 million in escalators principally based on playing time and interceptions.
Ironically, agent Drew Rosenhaus finalized the extension while he was in the parking lot at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, where McKenzie once played for the Packers.
Under his old contract, McKenzie was scheduled to earn base salaries of $3.43 million in 2005 and $4.1 million in 2006.
The extension for McKenzie, acquired in a trade with the Packers in October, continues a spending spree by the Saints. The club earlier this week agreed with star tailback Deuce McAllister on a seven-year extension that included bonuses of $12.5 million and then on Friday signed first-round offensive tackle Jammal Brown.
Saints officials continue to pursue an extension for standout center LeCharles Bentley.
One of the NFL's top man-to-man cornerbacks, McKenzie skipped all of the Packers' offseason workouts last year while he sought to have his contract upgraded. He finally reported to Green Bay, but after appearing in one game, was dealt to the Saints for quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan and a draft choice.
With the Saints, McKenzie appeared in 10 games, all starts, and had 33 tackles, five interceptions and 11 passes defensed. He got off to a slow start but, after the Saints installed more one-on-one coverages, came on strong over the second half of the year. New Orleans officials had frequently cited McKenzie as a player with whom they hoped to complete a contract extension.
A former Memphis star, McKenzie, 29, has played in 80 games in his career. He has 319 tackles, 20 interceptions and 82 passes defensed.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .
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