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Monday, March 27, 2006
Peterson signs big free-agent contract with Seattle

Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Julian Peterson signed his $54 million, seven-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, a full week after he and the NFC champions agreed to it.

But what's one more week for a deal the two-time Pro Bowler has been seeking for years?

Peterson's agent, Kevin Poston, said last week that Peterson's deal with Seattle includes $18.5 million guaranteed. The contract is worth $10 million in the first year. It could go to $18.4 million after two years and $23.5 million after three.

It is the first megabucks, multiyear contract of Peterson's seven-year NFL career.

"This is really what I was looking for," Peterson said Monday in a conference call, referring to a quest that began in 2004. "This is the perfect situation for me."

It was far from perfect before each of the previous two seasons, when the San Francisco 49ers made him their franchise player. Twice they restricted him from signing with the highest bidder on the free-agent market. He was seeking at least $20 million guaranteed each time, only to sign mandated, one-year tender offers at about one-fourth that sum.

Peterson also tore his left Achilles five games into the 2004 season. That slowed him throughout most of last season.

Then last month, San Francisco finally set Peterson free, declining to absorb his potential $8.6 million cost for 2006.

Talk about liberating: Peterson went from a team that has gone 6-26 the last two seasons -- "the whole ship kind of sunk," he said -- to the Seahawks. They are reloading an already improved defense, having also re-signed 2005 sack leader Rocky Bernard. They also re-signed league MVP Shaun Alexander on offense and are hoping for a return to the Super Bowl.

"They made it loud and clear that they wanted to get back to the Super Bowl and try to win it," Peterson said. "That's what I am trying to. I have never won a Super Bowl, never won any championship in my life. Always came in second."

He's No. 1 in the Seahawks' plans for play-making linebacker. He essentially replaces 2005 free-agent acquisition Jamie Sharper, who developed a knee infection last midseason and never returned. That led to the emergence of rookie Leroy Hill.

Peterson will start opposite Hill and next to Pro Bowl inside linebacker Lofa Tatupu, the team's bigger rookie star from last season. Peterson hinted he'll even be a cornerback, if need be. He has sometimes played that position in practice.

"I can jam up receivers pretty good," he said, adding he wouldn't mind covering tight ends downfield by himself.

Seattle will settle for Peterson returning to the freelancing play maker and pass rusher role he filled before the torn Achilles limited him in '04 and new San Francisco coach Mike Nolan's schemes structured him in '05.

Peterson, a native of Maryland who starred at Michigan State, said he has friends in Seattle. One is former 49ers teammate Jimmy Williams, now a Seahawks defensive back. Williams sold Peterson on how Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, a former San Francisco assistant, has created a family atmosphere similar to what Peterson said the 49ers had under former coach Steve Mariucci, who was fired following the 2002 season.

"I can tell you one thing, you will get a player who is going to be playing 100 percent and giving it his all no matter what the circumstances are," Peterson said. "I just play the game the way it is supposed to be played."

The Seahawks also announced they completed a $13 million, five-year contract with former New England offensive lineman Tom Ashworth.