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Seahawks agree on new 50.2M deal with Pro Bowl CB Trufant

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Come on down to Marcus Trufant's wedding on Saturday. He'll be able to foot the bill.

The Pro Bowl cornerback and his hometown Seattle Seahawks agreed Wednesday to a $50.2 million, six-year contract that runs through 2013.

Agent Doug Hendrickson said the deal for the 11th overall draft choice out of Washington State in 2003 includes $20 million in guarantees. A $3 million roster bonus due in 2010 effectively means Trufant is due $28 million over the first three years of the contract, making him one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the league.

"This is a great wedding present," his fiancee, Jessica Rankin, said with a grin as large as Trufant's timely windfall while standing inside Seahawks headquarters.

"Yeah, it's a good week for Marcus," Hendrickson said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning.

Last year, Nate Clements signed an $80 million, eight-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers. Last week, the Oakland Raiders traded with Atlanta for DeAngelo Hall and then gave Hall a $70 million, seven-year deal.

So now that he's got his big payday, how many people are coming to Trufant's big party Saturday?

"You know what? Too many," the 27-year-old native of nearby Tacoma said with a smile.

Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren joked that because of the imminent marriage, Trufant's new deal "had to get done now."

Trufant's timing has been impeccable lately.

Playing for the first time with free agency looming at the end of a season, Trufant shed inconsistencies to lead the NFC West champions with seven interceptions, tied for third in the NFL. He had nine interceptions in his first four seasons combined.

He flourished under new position coach Jim Mora. In yet more good news for Trufant, Mora has already been chosen as Holmgren's successor beginning in 2009.

When asked if a jackpot like Wednesday's motivated him last season, Trufant gushed.

"From your rookie year on, making it to your next contract, that's what a lot of the players are into now," he said. "As you're coming in your agents tell you what you can do after you play out your first contract. So getting to this day is a dream come true.

"It kind of just seems like everything is working out like a storybook in my life. I played ball here. I grew up here. I got to play college ball here, NFL ball here. I'm getting married in Seattle. Things just all come together."

For the Seahawks, too. Seattle gets a lower salary cap number for Trufant in 2008, lessening the fiscal pressure the team had been feeling after signing free-agent running backs Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett, plus former Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle. Last week, they asked four defensive players to restructure their contracts so Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu could sign a deal through 2015 worth a potential $42 million.

Until this new agreement, Trufant had been designated Seattle's franchise player. The team was mandated to offer him a one-year tender worth a guaranteed $9,465,000, the average of the top five salaries for cornerbacks in the league.

He had been free to negotiate with other teams in free agency that began March 1. Hendrickson said that never happened because teams did not want to give Seattle two first-round draft choices should the Seahawks decline to match other offers for Trufant, per franchise-tag rules.

Plus, Trufant ultimately didn't want to shop.

"I wanted to be here for longer than a year," he said.

Seahawks president Tim Ruskell said Trufant's new deal gives the team cap relief to set aside $3-4 million to sign a new kicker to replace departed free agent Josh Brown, and to sign rookies following next month's draft.

Just as he did last week when Tatupu signed his new deal, Ruskell said of Trufant's contract: "It effectively makes him a Seahawk for life."

With Trufant and Tatupu each signed for years and Mora, a defense-minded coach, taking over in '09, the Seahawks are following the Super Bowl-winning blueprint the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrote in the late 1990s.

That's no accident. Ruskell was a scout and eventually the player personnel director for the Bucs for 17 years, ending in 2003 after the team's championship season. His chief deputy, Seahawks vice president for player personnel Ruston Webster, worked 19 years for Tampa Bay before arriving in Seattle in 2005.

"We're big proponents of continuity. I think that was the secret for success of the Buccaneers' defense that I was a part of," Ruskell said. "That's what we are trying to do here.

"Like Lofa, Marcus is a cornerstone of our defense and our football team. And we kind of solidified that group for many years to come."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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