Cardinals DT Dockett signs five-year extension

Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett Friday signed a five-year contract extension that will keep him off the restricted free agent market next spring.

The extension is worth slightly in excess of $22 million and includes $7 million in bonuses. Dockett will receive a $3.5 million roster bonus now and then a second bonus of $3.5 million in the spring. Base salaries for the extension are $510,000 (for 2007), $3.25 million (2008), $3.5 million (2009), $3.75 million (2010) and $4 million (2011).

Dockett in his third year is becoming a fixture on the Cardinals' line and is widely regarded as one of the NFL's best young interior defenders.

The 25-year-old has been a starter at the "under" tackle position since his rookie campaign, and his ability to quickly get through the gaps has made him a disruptive force. The former Florida State standout possesses excellent natural strength, uses his hands well, and plays with unusual leverage for such a young lineman.

A third-round choice in the 2004 draft, the 64th player selected overall that year, Dockett signed a three-year, $1.49 million contract as a rookie, a deal that included a $570,000 signing bonus. He would have been eligible for restricted free agency after this season.

"I look back at all the guys that went in front of me [in the draft]," Dockett
said, "and 80 percent of them aren't doing nothing. Like I said
the first day, the Cardinals got a steal and I came and I proved it
every year since I've been here."

The Cardinals could have retained a right of first refusal next spring by making Dockett a restricted free agent qualifying offer. But convinced that Dockett is an emerging star, and with plenty of salary cap room remaining for this year, Arizona officials decided instead to lock him up for the long term.

Dockett started 15 games in 2004 and was named a consensus all-rookie player. He started all 16 games in 2005. In his five starts this season, Dockett leads the Arizona defensive linemen in tackles with 21. He also has one sack and one fumble recovery.

For his career, Dockett has 113 tackles, five sacks, 12 quarterback pressures, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two recoveries. He has appeared in 37 games and started in all but one of them.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.