After twice extending the negotiating deadline, the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears late Saturday night completed a blockbuster deal involving Pro
Bowl players who will fill glaring deficiencies for the two franchises.
The Bears received holdout defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, the 2003 AFC leader in sacks and a three-year veteran who had declined to accept the
qualifying offer Miami had made him as a restricted free agent, boycotting all of the club's offseason workouts. Miami landed two-time Pro Bowl wide
receiver Marty Booker and also got a third-round pick in the 2005 draft.
The teams had reached a conditional trade agreement earlier in the day, but completion of the deal hinged on the Bears' ability to sign Ogunleye to a
contract by a 7 p.m. deadline. That deadline was first extended to 8:30 p.m., and then beyond, as agent Drew Rosenhaus and Chicago officials
frantically negotiated a contract on the fly.
In the end, the Bears accomplished in one day what Miami could not complete in nearly seven months this offseason, agreeing with Ogunleye to a
six-year contract worth about $36 million, with a signing bonus essentially worth $15 million.
Ogunleye will get an initial signing bonus of $10 million and then a $5 million roster bonus next spring. He will earn salaries of $455,000 (2004),
$545,000 (2005), $4 million (2006), $3.9 million (2007), $4.7 million (2008) and $4.8 million (2009). In his first three seasons with the Bears, he
will receive a monstrous $20 million.
One of the league's premier dealmakers, Rosenhaus told ESPN.com as the first deadline approached that he was "very pessimistic" an agreement could be
reached. But he and the Bears kept chipping away throughout the evening and finally reached a deal.
It is believed the Bears initially offered only about $4 million in bonuses, but . having negotiated the eight-year, $66 million that unrestricted
free agent Jevon Kearse signed with Philadelphia this spring, which included a $16 million signing bonus, Rosenhaus had a demonstrated knowledge of
the market at the position.
The Dolphins made Ogunleye the high-level qualifying offer for a restricted free agent in the offseason. When he declined to sign that $1.824 million
offer, the team, as was its prerogative according to the collective bargaining agreement, reduced the offer to just $455,000 in mid-April. Ogunleye
had a base salary of $375,000 in '03.
Ogunleye, 26, became a starter in 2002 and has 24½ sacks the last two seasons, with a conference-best 15 sacks in 2003. The three-year totals for the
former Indiana star, who was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2000, include 39 appearances and 32 starts, 137 tackles, 25 sacks, five
forced fumbles and three recoveries.
The day after the abrupt retirement of tailback Ricky Williams, ESPN.com reported the Dolphins would likely use Ogunleye as trade bait to upgrade
their offense. Miami officials denied that was the case and, in fact, consistently insisted they would not trade the prized defensive end.
Dealing the highly coveted Ogunleye means the Dolphins are breaking up one of the NFL's best outside rush tandems, and right end Jason Taylor will
have a new partner in 2004. It is expected that veterans Jay Williams, David Bowens and Otis Grisby will all vie for Ogunleye's starting spot.
In Booker, 28, the Dolphins acquired a very accomplished receiver, the kind of player they have been seeking for much of this week as a replacement
for David Boston, who suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago. Miami officials are attempting to compensate offensively for the loss of
Boston and the unexpected retirement of Williams.
General manager Rick Spielman had spoken to several teams about the availability of wide receivers and talked with Cleveland officials about a
possible trade that would net the Dolphins fourth-year tailback James Jackson, who is buried on the Browns' depth chart. League sources said Saturday
night that Spielman could use the draft pick gained in the Ogunleye trade to send to Cleveland for Jackson.
Booker had a combined 197 catches in 2001-2002, and went over the 1,000-yard mark each of those seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors both years. His
receptions fell to 52 in '03, when he was limited by an ankle injury to 13 appearances, but the former Northeast Louisiana star is still regarded
leaguewide as a quality playmaker.
While he doesn't provide the speed dimension that Boston would have for Miami, the technically proficient Booker certainly is an excellent
replacement. In five seasons, he has 315 receptions for 3,684 yards and 23 touchdowns. He has five seasons remaining on his current contract at base
salaries of $2.7 million (for 2004), $2.9 million (2005), $3 million (2006), $3.1 million (2007) and $4.3 million (2008).
By sacrificing Booker, the Bears give up arguably their top offensive player, but they had to pay a steep price to pry Ogunleye away from Miami.
Chicago will now rely on young wide receivers such as David Terrell, Justin Gage, Bobby Wade and Bernard Berrian.
Ogunleye should add some explosiveness to a pass rush that generated a league-worst 18 sacks in 2003. The Bears got just 7½ sacks from Alex Brown and
Michael Haynes, the two ends projected as starters before the acquisition of Ogunleye.