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Patriots successfully court Lawyer

Pro Bowl starter Lawyer Milloy and the New England Patriots announced an agreement to a seven-year, $35 million contract for the safety Thursday afternoon.

Milloy, a two-time Pro Bowl player in four seasons with the Patriots, received an $8 million bonus, $6 million of which will be prorated over the first four years of the deal.

"What the money means to me and my family right now is really stability," Milloy said. "Playing the way I play this game, life can really end any day. You look at Derrick Thomas and the tragic end to his life, or Blaine Bishop when he went down in the Super Bowl, and that's just the harsh reality of how quickly this can end."

According to Ray Anderson, Milloy's agent, the deal is $15 million over the first four years, with an option for the final three years. The Patriots can terminate the final three years if they don't exercise the option by a cerain date before the free agency period following the fourth season. If such is the case, then Milloy can void the last three years of the contract.

The final three years of the deal would be worth $20 million, including a $2 million bonus. The structure of the deal frees up some space under the salary cap for the upcoming season, as Milloy's cap hit will be less than $2 million. Had New England put the franchise label on Milloy, his cap hit would have been $2.8 million, so the Patriots saved nearly $1 million for the upcoming season.

"First and foremost, Lawyer wants to win. He wouldn't want to be a Patriot and have no supporting cast around him," Anderson said. "He is very smart in terms of understanding the business. Part of what [the Patriots] said all along is that they will be hamstrung as far as signing other guys needed to make this a championship team if they overextend themselves with Lawyer. Lawyer understands that."

Milloy said that the signing of Bill Belichick as the Patriots head coach played a major role in his decision to stay in Foxboro. Belichick understands the type of player he has in Milloy.

"All the qualities that Lawyer has as a person and as a football player are ones that I greatly admire," Belichick said. "He plays the game the way I believe it should be played. He has great passion and love for football. He has all the attributes that I'm looking for in a player. He's the kind of player that I want to commit to, and I'm glad to commit to him."

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