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Fernandez, Star Wide Receiver in Canada, Signs With Raiders

March 05, 1987

Wide receiver Mervyn Fernandez, Most Valuable Player in the Canadian Football League in 1985, Wednesday signed a four-year contract with the Raiders that could earn him $7 million.

Fernandez, 27, played out his option after five seasons with the British Columbia Lions. The Raiders have been trying to buy out his CFL contract since 1983, when they selected him in the 10th round of the NFL draft.

"I'm a wide-open type of guy, a game-breaker," said Fernandez, a former San Jose State star who runs 40 yards in 4.4 seconds. "Long ball, short ball, I can turn anything into a touchdown."

According to Fernandez's agent, Bob LaMonte, the contract includes a $5.25-million annuity that begins in 1997; a $200,000 signing bonus; a base salary of $300,000 next season, $350,000 in 1988, $450,000 in 1989 and $500,000 in 1990, plus close to $100,000 a season in incentives.

With the annuity, signing bonus and first-year salary, Fernandez is guaranteed $5.75 million before he catches a pass, LaMonte said. The contract could exceed $7 million.

The agent said Raider owner Al Davis has been attempting to buy out Fernandez's contract for "48 months."

"They tried to buy him out, (for) a half-million, a million," LaMonte said. "Of course, British Columbia wouldn't let him go because he was the biggest thing in the country. A wide receiver that wins the (MVP) is almost unheard of."

Fernandez, 6 feet 3 inches and 205 pounds, led the CFL with 95 catches for 1,727 yards in his MVP year. He was runner-up for the award the previous two seasons. He had 370 receptions for 6,405 yards and 55 touchdowns in his CFL career. Last season, Fernandez missed eight games with a broken finger but still caught 44 passes for 862 yards and 5 touchdowns. Fernandez caught passes from quarterback Rusty Hilger Wednesday at the Raiders' practice facility in El Segundo.

"He's got size and he also has speed," said Raider Coach Tom Flores. "Watching films from his days in the CFL, he rarely gets caught from behind. We've had him farmed out in Canada to get experience, and now we figured it was time to bring him in."

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