NFL owners and the NFL Players Association once again delayed the deadline for being in compliance with the league-mandated salary cap of $94.5 million to 10:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have apparently made the most of the extra negotiating time afforded to them. PewterReport.com is reporting that the Buccaneers have restructured the contract of Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks.
While PewterReport.com is working to get more details, sources say Brooks’ restructured contract frees up approximately $5 million in cap room in 2006.
“He is a special guy,” said Bucs general manager Bruce Allen, who confirmed Brooks’ contract-related news at a press conference on Sunday night. “He wanted to be a Buccaneer, we wanted him to be a Buccaneer and in just a few days of conversation we were able to reach an agreement that we think will ensure his future. And it cleared up room so that we can sign some of our own players back and go out into free agency, because Derrick’s interested in getting another ring.”
A nine-time Pro Bowler, Brooks said earlier in the offseason that he’d be open to the possibility of restructuring his contract if it afforded him the opportunity to retire a Buc. Although not all of the details of the contract were immediately available, Brooks’ reworked deal is believed to come with guaranteed money and an extension past the 2009 season.
“It’s important to Derrick, obviously, but it’s very important to the Buccaneers,” said Allen. “He’s been an outstanding performer and his next stop will be getting fitted for a bust in Canton. I don’t think there’s any doubt that everybody’s intention is for him to retire as a Buccaneer.”
Brooks, who turns 33 next month, signed a contract extension with Tampa Bay during the 2004 offseason and was originally scheduled to have a base salary of $7.750 million and an $11.657 million salary cap value in 2006.
Brooks, who is entering his 12th season in the NFL, has started 173 of the 176 games he’s played in since entering the league in 1995 as a first-round pick out of Florida State. In addition to owning the club record for most Pro Bowl appearances, Brooks’ 1,775 career tackles rank first in franchise history.
Last season, Brooks ranked second on the Bucs defense in tackles behind LB Shelton Quarles with 174, and third on the team in passes defensed (15). He went on to earn MVP honors at the 2006 Pro Bowl after intercepting a pass and returning it 59 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter en route to the NFC’s 23-17 win over the AFC.
Brooks’ best season as a pro came in 2002 when he notched a team-high 170 tackles, five interceptions and one sack, and scored five defensive touchdowns en route to earning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors and helping Tampa Bay win Super Bowl XXXVII.
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