FROSTBURG -- As Washington Redskins general manager Charley Casserly beamed yesterday while formally announcing the signing of Michael Westbrook, the wide receiver's agent, Steve Zucker, said jokingly, "I didn't know Charley knew how to smile."
Casserly hasn't had much of a chance to smile as the holdout by the Redskins' top draft pick dragged on for 26 days.
Casserly made up for lost time when Westbrook signed a seven-year, $18.02 million contract at a news conference.
"We're thrilled that Michael's going to be with us for many, many years," Casserly said.
He added: "When you do a contract of this magnitude, everybody wonders why does it take so long to do, why wasn't it done yesterday? Well, it's a very difficult contract."
What made it particularly difficult is that Zucker had all the leverage.
When the Redskins made Westbrook the fourth pick in this year's draft, they figured he'd get a contract with a nice raise over the four-year, $6.19 million deal that last year's fourth pick, linebacker Willie McGinest, got from the New England Patriots.
The market changed when this year's second pick, offensive tackle Tony Boselli, got a seven-year, $17.02 million deal with a $6 million signing bonus from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Zucker had even more leverage because Westbrook was picked between two quarterbacks, Steve McNair, who got an eight-year, $28.4 million deal with the Houston Oilers, and Kerry Collins, who got a seven-year, $23 million deal from the Carolina Panthers that voids after three years.
Suddenly, the McGinest contract was obsolete. Westbrook's $6.5 million signing bonus was bigger than McGinest's entire deal.
Westbrook got more than Boselli because the Redskins had to throw in a $2.625 million incentive package -- $375,000 a year -- to seal the deal. The incentives are easily reached if he doesn't get hurt.
Redskins coach Norv Turner was excited to get Westbrook on the field and said he'll play in Saturday night's preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.
MA A breakdown of first-round pick Michael Westbrook's contract:
Year .. .. .. Base .. .. ... Incentives
1995 .. .. .. $726,340 .. .. $375,000
.. .. .. $907,900 .. .. $375,000
.. .. .. $1,089,460 ... $375,000
1998 .. .. .. $1,271,020 ... $375,000
1999 .. .. .. $1,452,580 ... $375,000
2000 .. .. .. $1,634,140 ... $375,000
2001 .. .. .. $1,815,700 ... $375,000
Signing bonus: $6,500,000
Total: 7 years, $18,022,140