SEATTLE — All-American linebacker Brian Bosworth signed the largest contract ever awarded a National Football League rookie--10 years for $11 million--with the Seattle Seahawks Friday, two months after pledging he would never play for them.
"We were looking for something that would knock us silly, and this one knocked me on my butt," the former Oklahoma star said. "It's big."
Bosworth's agent said the player would never agree to play for the Seahawks after they got him in the June 12 NFL supplemental draft.
Seahawk officials said Bosworth agreed to a 10-year deal that includes a $2.5-million signing bonus, with $2 million of it deferred until 1997 to 2000.
In his first year, Bosworth will receive a base salary of $300,000 plus $500,000 of the signing bonus. He will receive annual raises to his base salary through 1996, when he will earn $1.4 million.
Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde, the No. 1 choice in April's draft, had signed the largest previous rookie deal--a six-year, $8.2-million package with Tampa Bay.
The contract placed Bosworth, who won the Butkus Award as the nation's top college linebacker in his last two seasons, at a salary level close to running back Curt Warner, the highest-paid Seahawk. Warner last spring signed a four-year contract that will pay him $900,000 this year and increase to slightly more than $1.1 million.
"But the bottom line is, can the guy produce?" said Seattle Coach Chuck Knox, adding that he believes Bosworth will have little trouble playing in the NFL.
Bosworth, whose controversial manner tainted the end of his college career, said Knox "won't muzzle me, but I won't put my foot in my mouth like I did in Oklahoma. I have learned from experience."
He said that despite what many people believe, he does not like a lot of media attention.