Tailback Fred Taylor on Thursday signed a three-year contract extension that will essentially double his compensation for the 2007 season and all but guarantees the Jacksonville Jaguars' star will finish his career with the team that brought him to the NFL in 1998.
The extension, which runs through the 2010 season, has been the subject of recent offseason discussion between Jacksonville officials and agent Drew Rosenhaus. Taylor was under contract for the 2007 campaign, so the extension essentially creates a four-year deal which is worth $23 million.
"If I stay healthy, I'll be able to finish my career with the Jaguars, which is a pretty big thing for me," Taylor said on Thursday afternoon. "That would mean a lot."
Under his previous contract, Taylor was to have earned a base salary of $2.55 million for 2007. The new deal reduces his base salary to $800,000 but also rewards Taylor with a $4.2 million roster bonus, bringing his total compensation for 2007 to $5 million.
For the 2008-2010 seasons, Taylor is due annual spring roster bonuses of $1 million each. The base salaries for those years, which represent the extension part of the contract, are $4 million for 2008, $5 million for 2009 and $6 million for 2010.
It's likely that Jacksonville officials will closely examine Taylor's production each season before determining whether to pay the roster bonuses and retain him. But even for the short-term, the new deal represents a significant gain, since it doubles Taylor's pay for 2007.
Taylor, 31, has been seeking a contract that would pay him an average of $5 million per year, but Jaguars officials had consistently balked, and pointed out that the nine-year veteran has never been to a Pro Bowl game. The extension consummated on Thursday appeared to address the needs of both sides.
The team's first-round choice in the 1998 draft, Taylor has rushed for 1,000 yards in six different seasons, including 2006, when he carried 231 times for 1,146 yards and five scores. His workhorse role was reduced last season with the addition of second-round pick Maurice Jones-Drew, and the pair comprised one of the NFL's premier tailback tandems.
Taylor initially ripped the franchise for not being loyal, then
showed he was better than ever.
"It kind of makes me feel bad that I kind of had a couple harsh
words through frustration last offseason, saying I wanted a deal,"
Taylor said. "But sometimes you do have to speak up for
Taylor said he was confident he could be effective through the
duration of the new deal.
"The football is easy to me," Taylor said. "The health is
always one of those key concerns when you're playing this sport.
God forbid any major injuries, I'm going to be there every bit of
it. I know I can I play throughout the end of this deal. I know
that for a fact."
For his career, Taylor has carried 2,062 times for 9,513 yards and 56 touchdowns. He also has 261 receptions for 2,205 yards and eight touchdowns. The former University of Florida standout has appeared in 112 games and started in 108 of them.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.