Coleman's deal includes $5M signing bonus

Veteran defensive back Marcus Coleman, who this season has made a smooth transition to free safety after playing cornerback for the first eight years of his career, on Friday signed a three-year contract extension with the Houston Texans, ESPN.com has learned.

The deal, negotiated by agent Jimmy Sexton, extends Coleman through the 2007 season. It is worth $9.3 million and includes a $5 million signing bonus.

Coleman, 30, was in the final year of a contract that he originally signed with the New York Jets, and has a 2004 base salary of $3.1 million. He also received a $1.5 million roster bonus in the spring.

Without the extension, the nine-year veteran would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring.

The Texans announced in the offseason that Coleman, chosen by Houston in the 2002 expansion draft, would switch to safety, a position that he had not played since college. The move was made in part to shore up a position that was a problem area for Houston, and also to accommodate young cornerback Dunta Robinson, the higher of the Texans' two choices in the first round of the 2004 draft, and a starter from the moment the team selected him.

Like most rookie corners, Robinson has struggled at times, but is a quality prospect. Coleman has provided the Texans with a solid and savvy veteran at a key secondary spot and has acknowledged that, while he was originally skeptical about playing free safety, he has come to enjoy a position that, by definition, gives him more freedom.

By retaining Coleman, the Texans ensure themselves versatility in the secondary and a nice mix of older veterans and young players on the unit.

The former Texas Tech star, who played six seasons for the Jets, has started all six of the Texans' games at safety and has 30 tackles, two interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown), and five passes defensed.

For his career, Coleman has 438 tackles, 24 interceptions and 87 passes defensed in 128 appearances and 84 starts. Primarily used on special teams and as a nickel defender early in his career, Coleman became a full-time starter in 1999.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.