The Tampa Bay Buccaneers plan to use the months before training camp to sign a few free agents-to-be to long-term contract extensions – but quarterback Jeff Garcia, who has publicly voiced his displeasure over his contract situation, and running back Earnest Graham, who has held out of the OTAs due to a contract dispute, will have to wait. The first Buccaneer to receive a contract extension was fullback B.J. Askew.
Askew, who was entering the final season of a two-year contract he signed last spring, was rewarded with a five-year deal that will pay him $7.6 million through 2012. The deal makes Askew one of the highest-paid fullbacks in the NFL. He received a $1 million signing bonus and a $1 million roster bonus and is set to receive $605,000 in base salary in 2008.
Askew, who was a Pro Bowl alternate last year, shined in his first season in Tampa Bay in 2007 after beginning his NFL career with the New York Jets as a third-round pick in 2003. Askew replaced Mike Alstott as starting fullback and helped pave the way for Earnest Graham (898 yards, 10 touchdowns), Michael Pittman (286 yards), Cadillac Williams (208 yards, three touchdowns) and Michael Bennett (189 yards, one TD) as Tampa Bay rushed for 1,872 yards – the most in Jon Gruden’s tenure in Tampa Bay.
Although Askew didn’t carry the ball in 2007, he did catch a career-high 18 passes for 175 yards (9.7 avg.).
Askew showed his toughness last year by playing with a severely sprained ankle down the stretch. He started 13 games in Tampa Bay, missing three due to the injury, but Askew missed the last two months of practice due to the severity of the ankle injury and was forced to shoot up his ankle with painkillers and numbing agents to be able to play in the games he suited up for.
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