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Lions, T Backus agree to six-year deal

DETROIT (July 13, 2006) -- Jeff Backus closed on a house in suburban Detroit and several hours later, the offensive tackle agreed to terms with the Lions on a six-year contract with $15.5 million guaranteed.

"I'm very appreciative to the Lions and the Ford family for getting this done," Backus told The Associated Press. "I'm looking forward to continuing my career in Detroit and helping to turn this organization around."

Lions spokesman Bill Keenist confirmed the team and Backus agreed to a six-year deal. A message seeking comment was left with Lions president Matt Millen.

Backus has started all 80 games Detroit has played since the team drafted the former Michigan standout in the first round of the 2001 draft.

The Lions and Backus agreed to a one-year offer in May after they designated him the team's franchise player, but both sides kept working on a new deal that would keep him in Detroit for years to come.

As part of the previous deal, the Lions agreed not to designate Backus as their franchise player in 2007. If Backus and the Lions didn't agree to a long-term contract, he would have become an unrestricted free agent after the 2006 season.

"Last year, I played with only one year left on my contract, and I'm glad I don't have to do that again," Backus said. "The Lions have made a big commitment to me, and I'm excited about knowing where I'll play for the next six years. Hopefully, I can help the Detroit Lions finally win a championship."

Since winning the NFL title in 1957, the Lions have won only one playoff game and have been a league-worst 21-59 the past five seasons.

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