Davis hitches his star to Redskins in rich deal


Stephen Davis became one of the league's richest running backs yesterday, agreeing to a long-term deal with the Redskins.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed, but published reports speculated that the agreement was likely worth $90 million over nine seasons, including a $6.5 million signing bonus. However, his salary could be reduced if he does not meet certain performance standards, the reports said.

Steve Weinberg, Davis' agent, had hoped to get something done before today's opener after the signing of the running back to a one-year, $3.532 million contract on July 22. But the Redskins' chief negotiator, Joe Mendes, resigned from the organization, delaying the start of negotiations.

Still, the two sides were able to reach an agreement, and a news conference is scheduled for tomorrow. Neither Davis nor Weinberg was available for comment.

Davis was named the team's franchise player in February - which kept him off the free agent market - but now loses that tag. As the franchise player, Davis received the average salaries of the top five running backs in the league.

The Redskins can use the franchise tag on another player at the end of this year. A likely candidate is quarterback Brad Johnson, whose contract expires after the season.

It was important to Davis that he sign a multi-year contract before the start of the season. If he had not, he would have been taking a risk every time he set foot on the field. The Redskins would have been financially responsible only for this season if Davis had suffered a season- or career-ending injury.

"We really are hoping to get a deal done before the start of the regular season," Weinberg said in July.

They did, and it was better than the five-year, $31 million deal Weinberg rejected late last season.

Davis suffered a high-ankle sprain that forced him out of the final two regular-season games last year. The injury had not healed by the playoffs, and he hobbled off the field late in the Redskins' season-ending loss to Tampa Bay.

He has fully recovered and has been impressive in limited preseason action. He showed the same speed and power that carried him to a franchise-record 1,405 yards last season. In his first year as the starting back, he also scored 17 touchdowns.

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