As birthday presents go, Mike Shanahan got a doozy.
After leading the Denver Broncos to their first Super Bowl title last season, Shanahan has been rewarded with a lucrative seven-year contract that ensures he will remain among the NFL's highest-paid coaches, the Denver Post reported Monday.
Shanahan, who had four years remaining on his previous contract, agreed to the new deal Sunday -- his 46th birthday -- according to the Post.
"This is a no-brainer," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said. "I want him to run the football operation, and he ought to be compensated accordingly. By the time Mike finishes this contract, he'll basically have had a 10-year stint in Denver. That's really what I want. I get the comfort level that I know he'll be here another seven years."
The new contract calls for Shanahan to receive a base salary of more than $2.4 million this season, exceeding the $2.4 million salary of New York Jets head coach Bill Parcells. Shanahan had averaged $1.2 million a season under his old contract.
The contract also has an "escalator" clause that ensures Shanahan will be one of the five highest-paid coaches in the NFL. If another coach's salary surpasses Shanahan's, his average annual salary would be adjusted back into the top five.
"It's a wonderful deal for Mike because if coaching salaries go through the roof, then Mike's salary does, too," Bowlen said. "But I have enough faith in his ability to coach that that doesn't bother me."
Shanahan, who is 37-16 in three seasons with the Broncos, also was given the title of vice president of football operations, formalizing the all-encompassing role e has served since being hired in 1995.
"I'd like sincerely thank Pat Bowlen for being not only the best owner in football, but in all of sports," Shanahan said. "Now that this deal is behind us, we can start looking ahead to the (Sept. 7 regular-season) opener against the New England Patriots."
The contract reportedly includes a clause allowing Shanahan out of the deal if Bowlen were to sell the team. Otherwise, Bowlen said there is a good chance Shanahan could finish his coaching career in Denver.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we got to the end of the fifth year into this current contract and we were redoing it again," Bowlen said. "Mike's very much a perfectionist. He prepares his team to the `nth' degree, so I always see us being competitive as long as he's around."
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