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Old 05-19-2004   #1
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Houston
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Default Mammoth Lekkerkerker

I found this on ESPN today. I hope it wasn't previously posted. Highlights mine.

"There was, as of May 14, a total of 442 free agent signings. Of that group, 343 players received signing bonuses, ranging from $500 to $25,000. Sixty-eight players received signing bonuses of at least $10,000. Fifteen players got $15,000 in upfront money and eight earned $20,000 or more. The Denver Broncos invested only $87,500 in signing bonuses but three of their six free agents each got $20,000 in upfront payments.

In all, teams spent slightly in excess of $2 million on signing bonuses for free agents. That is a modest increase over the 2003 total of $1.969 million.

From an individual standpoint, the big winner was offensive tackle Brad Lekkerkerker from the University of California-Davis, who received a $25,000 signing bonus from the Houston Texans. The mammoth Lekkerkerker (6-feet-7 and 317 pounds) is an intriguing guy who drew serious interest from nine teams.

Lekkerkerker didn't play any sports in high school and then spent the next four years working on the family farm before enrolling in college. He is raw and overaged, at 25, but a legitimate prospect. Agent Michael Vlaming noted that there was at least one other team that offered a $25,000 signing bonus, but that his client opted for the Texans because he felt they offered the best competitive opportunity.

"It was," acknowledged Vlaming early this week, "pretty hectic just trying to balance the phone calls from all the different teams."

The $25,000 signing bonus Lekkerkerker earned is actually more than five teams invested in signing bonuses for their entire free-agent classes. Some franchises, like Tennessee, are cap-strapped and, while signing lots of free agents, simply can't afford much upfront cash for undrafted players. The Titans signed 27 players but paid out just $18,500 in bonuses, including $2,500 to tailback Jarrett Payton, son of the late Walter Payton."

It's good to see that the Texans are prepared to go the extra mile (paying the biggest signing bonus to a rookie free agent) regardless how it turns out.
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