UPDATE: San Francisco signed linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a six-year, $44.5 million contract with $17.5 million of it guaranteed, his agent Greg Williams told the Associated Press. Here’s a story on Brooks going from party boy and getting cut in Cincinnati to being baptized last week and inking his new deal.
INDIANAPOLIS – The market is starting to set for Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who can become an unrestricted free agent on March 13 if the Falcons do not sign him to a contract extension.
Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Monday that the Browns have signed linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to a five-year contract worth $42.5 million. A total of $19 million is guaranteed.
So now, here are the top five contracts for inside linebackers:
1. Patrick Willis, San Francisco: seven years, $53.51 million, $29 million guaranteed.
2. Jon Beason, Carolina: six years, $51.3 million, $25 million guaranteed.
3. Jerod Mayo, New England: seven years,$49.85 million, $25 million guaranteed.
4. D’Qwell Jackson, Cleveland: five years, $ 42.5 million, $19.5 million guaranteed.
5. David Harris, New York Jets: four years, $36 million, $29.5 million guaranteed.
The Falcons held talks with Lofton’s representatives here over the weekend.
Lofton has played 95, 95 and 99 percent of the defensive snaps over the last three years. When asked if Lofton was a three-down linebacker, Lofton’s Atlanta-based agent Todd France said, “I spoke to the team and they told me it’s ridiculous to say Lofton isn’t a three-down linebacker.”
With free agency pushed back to March 13, teams have not brokered a lot of deals during the combine like they have in years past. France believes that talks to get Lofton a contract extension will pick up over the next two weeks.
The Falcons seem to prefer to signing him to an extension as opposed to getting into a bidding war with three or four teams if he’s becomes an unrestricted free agent.
“He’s been a very important cog in our defense on all three downs,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He has definitely been the leader of our defense and signal-caller. He’s done a very nice job. Curtis is a very active middle linebacker in terms of his ability to play both the run and the pass. He’s one of the leading tacklers. He’s really developed into a top-level linebacker.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog