IRVING, Tex. — Troy Aikman became the richest player in NFL history, agreeing Thursday to a $50 million, eight-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
Aikman, a 27-year-old quarterback, will receive an $11 million signing bonus and salaries ranging from $1.75 million in 1994 to $7.5 million in 2000. Leigh Steinberg, his agent, said Aikman is the first NFL player signed through the rest of the decade.
Neither side was willing to discuss whether parts of the contract were guaranteed, but Steinberg said he considered the $11 million bonus "a whole lot of guarantees."
"This makes Troy a Cowboy for life," Steinberg said.
Said owner Jerry Jones: "I paid $65 million for the Cowboys and $75 million for the stadium. Let it be said we have a commitment to keeping the team together."
Aikman had complained earlier that his contract situation might have been a distraction for the Cowboys.
He said he did not hesitate in making an eight-year commitment because Jones and Coach Jimmy Johnson have "shown they are willing to do what is necessary for us to be competitive, year in and year out, and to field a winning football team."
He said he was concerned with more than becoming the NFL's highest paid player.
"Under different circumstances, I would have been willing to take less than somebody else, and I'm sure there will come a point where someone is making more money than I am now," he said.
Jones, however, said the salary cap and other considerations would keep Aikman at the top awhile.
The deal was completed on the last day NFL teams were able to rewrite contracts without the entire packages being affected by the salary cap, which goes into effect for the first time after this season.
Aikman said he was relieved the Cowboys were willing to keep the Super Bowl champions intact.
"I think that with Emmitt (Smith) and I both under contract . . . I think that we have done what we can in order to help keep this team together," he said.
Aikman's 1993 salary was increased from the $1.12 million of his old contract to $2.5 million. He will earn $1.75 million next year, as opposed to the $1.37 million he was due under the previous deal, which would have expired after the 1994 season.
Aikman, who led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl title last January and was the game's MVP, was the first pick in the 1989 draft after a successful career at UCLA.
Raking It In
\o7 The Top 10 NFL contracts by average annual value, with total contract value\f7 ,\o7 as obtained by The Associated Press from player and management sources.\f7
All figures in millions
Player, Team Pos. Salary Avg. Troy Aikman, Dallas QB $50 $6.25 Steve Young, San Francisco QB $26.75 $5.35 John Elway, Denver QB $18.8 $4.7 Barry Sanders, Detroit RB $17.2 $4.3 Reggie White, Green Bay DE $17 $4.25 Dan Marino, Miami QB $22.6 $3.77 Warren Moon, Houston QB $14.25 $3.56 Joe Montana, Kansas City QB $10.3 $3.43 Emmitt Smith, Dallas RB $13.6 $3.4 Thurman Thomas, Buffalo RB $13.5 $3.38