Harrington to get $3.75M guaranteed from Dolphins

Updated: May 18, 2006, 1:03 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

In addition to the late-round draft pick surrendered to the Detroit Lions, the minimum cost of the insurance policy the Miami Dolphins essentially purchased by acquiring veteran quarterback Joey Harrington via a trade last Friday afternoon will be just under $4 million, ESPN.com has learned.

 Joey Harrington
Harrington

According to league salary documents obtained by ESPN.com, the Dolphins signed Harrington to a three-year contract after acquiring the four-year veteran and former first-round draft choice. The deal includes a signing bonus of $2.2 million and a 2006 base salary of $800,000, meaning that Harrington will earn $3 million for the coming season.

Under his contract with the Lions, negotiated when he was the third overall selection in the 2002 draft, Harrington was to have earned $8.5 million in 2006 -- a $4 million roster bonus that was due on June 15 and a base salary of $4.5 million. Harrington's salary cap charge to the Dolphins for the 2006 season is a very palatable $1.53 million.

For the 2007 season, Harrington is to receive a $1 million roster bonus next spring and a base salary of $1.75 million. The Dolphins could avoid paying the roster bonus by releasing Harrington before it comes due. But the team guaranteed $750,000 of the $1.75 million base salary, meaning Harrington will receive it even if he is no longer with the club. That puts the basic guaranteed money to Harrington at $3.75 million.

If the Dolphins retain Harrington through the 2007 season, he will earn a total of $5.75 million for two seasons. His cap charge for the '07 campaign would be $3.483 million.

The third year of the deal is designed to be so prohibitive that it will force the Dolphins to restructure the contract or release the veteran quarterback. It includes a $10 million roster bonus, a $5 million base salary and an exorbitant cap charge of $15.733 million.

After more than a month of haggling, and intermittent acrimony in the bargaining between the two teams, the Lions last Friday accepted a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2007 draft in exchange for the four-year veteran. The choice can escalate to a fifth-rounder if Harrington reaches certain playing time thresholds during the 2006 season.

The consummation of the much-discussed trade allowed Harrington to begin participating in Miami's organized team activities, which started on Monday morning. The Dolphins pushed for a resolution to the prolonged talks because they wanted Harrington to have time to assimilate the offense before the club convenes for a three-day minicamp June 9-11.

The Dolphins coveted Harrington as an insurance policy against the possibility that starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who is still rehabilitating from surgery to repair three torn ligaments in his right knee, might not be available at the outset of the regular season. Acquired from the Minnesota Vikings in a trade for a second-round draft choice, Culpepper is said to be ahead of schedule for his recovery and he recently received an optimistic report from Dr. James Andrews, the renowned Birmingham, Ala.-based orthopedic specialist who performed the surgery on his knee.

But there remains some uncertainty about when Culpepper will be completely rehabilitated from the severe injury suffered in October. If Culpepper cannot open the season, Harrington will be the Dolphins' starter.

Harrington, 27, started 55 games for the Lions and posted a record of 18-37. He completed 986 of 1,802 passes for 10,242 yards, with 60 touchdown passes and 62 interceptions, for an efficiency rating of 68.1.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.