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Colts Give James $49M Deal


Running back Edgerrin James, the surprise first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts, ended a 20-day holdout Thursday when he signed a seven-year contract valued at $49 million.

His agent, Leigh Steinberg, announced the signing and the financial terms of the contract. James, who took a physical before signing, joined the Colts for their afternoon practice at Rose-Hulman Institute.

The former Miami star was drafted fourth overall in April's draft, two picks ahead of Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams. He missed 25 practices, a scrimmage and the Colts' opening exhibition game.

The Colts had no immediate comment on the signing.

The contract included a $9.5 million signing bonus and an additional $350,000 bonus for making the roster, Steinberg said.

It also includes $1.15 million in reporting bonuses over the life of the contract and four tiers of bonuses based on performance, Steinberg said. James would earn the first bonus by rushing for 701 yards this year. The final year of the contract will be voided if James reaches certain milestones within the first six years. They include playing in 35 percent of the offensive plays this upcoming season and 45 percent in future years.

Williams' contract, by contrast, is heavily loaded with incentives based upon performance. His seven-year deal with an optional eighth year includes an $8.84 million signing bonus and will be worth between $11.1 million and $68.4 million.

The signing signals a dramatic change for James, who has spent summers harvesting watermelons to raise money for his family, which got by with the aid of food stamps.

After he became the fourth overall pick in the draft, James remarked, "It's a big world out there and a lot of people don't know about being poor. Growing up, I was one of those that knew."

James passed up his senior year of college eligibility at Miami to help his 2-year-old daughter and his mother, a cafeteria worker at Immokalee High School who raised six sons on her own and never earned more than $17,000 a year.

James did participate in the team's minicamp and voluntary summer camp and workouts. However, he was not able to report to training camp until he was signed.

A two-year starter at Miami, James finished his career as the school's second leading rusher with 2.960 yards while making only 17 starts. He tied the Miami school record of 35 touchdowns, 32 by rushing and 3 on pass receptions.

James' signing leaves three first-rounders who have not agreed to terms. Heading the list is Cincinnati quarterback Akili Smith, the third overall selection.

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