Thursday, September 11, 2008
Williams irks agent, negotiates extension with Parcells, Dolphins
DAVIE, Fla. -- Always one to go against the grain, Ricky Williams negotiated his own contract extension with Bill Parcells and the Miami Dolphins, including a verbal agreement regarding a performance bonus.
Williams, 31, said he didn't ask the Dolphins to forgive the $8.6 million he has owed them since a 2004 ruling by an arbitrator. He said the extension upset his agent, Leigh Steinberg.
"He's mad because I didn't talk to him about it," Williams said Thursday. "He was looking forward to me becoming a free agent."
Williams could have tested free agency for the first time after this season. Instead, on Aug. 31 he signed a contract that included a one-year extension through 2009.
The 1998 Heisman Trophy winner and 2002 NFL rushing champion said Parcells offered the extension, and the deal was done in less than a week.
"I trust my gut feelings about it," Williams said. "I thought about it, I talked to my family, I talked to my financial advisers, and my only concern was if I had a pretty good year, then I might feel like I was undercompensated. I brought that up to Bill, and he agreed, and we came to an agreement."
The verbal agreement is for a bonus of more than $1 million if Williams rushes for more than 1,100 yards this year, he said. That will be difficult because he's splitting carries with Ronnie Brown.
Williams was to earn the veteran minimum of $730,000 this year. The new contract adds a $93,000 roster bonus per game, which could bring his 2008 salary to $2.2 million. Next year his salary will be $3.3 million. None of the money is guaranteed.
The Dolphins and Steinberg declined comment. Williams said his independent approach to the negotiations might not be right for most players.
"It's rare to have a situation where you can trust management," he said. "The assumption most people make is that a team is going to look out solely for their own best interests."
Williams has always taken an unusual approach to his career. The rapper Master P's agency negotiated Williams' first NFL contract, and most of that seven-year, $68 million deal with the New Orleans Saints was based on incentive bonuses difficult to earn.
An abrupt one-year retirement and violations of the league's substance abuse policy have limited him to 13 games since 2003.
An arbitrator ruled Williams breached his contract by retiring, and he was ordered to repay the Dolphins $8.6 million in bonus money. The Dolphins have never tried to collect, and while they could garnish his wages, Williams said he saw no reason to raise the subject in contract talks.
"It never for one day has ever been an issue," he said. "As long as the Dolphins and I have a good relationship -- from Day 1 since I came back, it has never been an issue."
Williams said the new contract means he's set for life financially, allowing him to support his three children and attend medical school when he retires from the NFL.
The new Parcells regime, including coach Tony Sparano, has raved about Williams' work ethic and attitude. Williams said he's glad to be part of the project to rebuild a team that went 1-15 last year.
"I like South Florida," Williams said. "I like coach Sparano and I really like Bill, and I like what they're doing here. One of the intangible things you can't put a price on is being in a good situation. And I think the situation here is a good situation."