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Cardinals Bust A Move; Sign James To 4-Year Deal...
As insider Jay Glazer initially reported, the Cardinals have agreed to terms with Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James. The team subsequently confirmed the signing in an announcement posted on its official web site, reporting it as a four-year deal.

In keeping with franchise policy, the Cardinals did not release contract figures. However, sources told senior writer Len Pasquarelli that James receives an immediate signing bonus of $7 million and an additional roster bonus of $4.5 million later this week.

The two-time NFL rushing champion's base salaries are $3.25 million for 2006, $5.25 million ('07), $5 million ('08) and $5 million ('09).

The deal will pay James $20 million over the first two years. By comparison, the $62 million contract signed last week by Shaun Alexander pays $18.5 million in the first two years.

Arizona was the first and only place he visited on a short-lived free agent tour as James probably knew that the market for running backs was soon to dry up.

As Arizona Republic staffer Kent Somers suggested, James, who has led the NFL in rushing twice, is the biggest free agent signing in team history.

James, 6-foot, 214 pounds, will turn 28 in August. A seven-year veteran from Miami, he's rushing for more than 1,000 yards in five seasons, gaining more than 1,500 four times.

The Cardinals haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since 1998, and ranked last in the NFL in rushing in 2005.

In fact, James has five seasons in which he rushed for more than 1,200 yards and four seasons with more than 1,500 yards on the ground, including a career-high 1,709 in his second pro season.

He's also usually good for 50 to 60 catches out of the backfield during a season.

"Edgerrin has established himself as one of the prolific running backs in the history of the game," Cardinals vice president of football operations Rod Graves said on Saturday when the former Hurricane first arrived at team headquarters. "A running back of that quality could certainly have a dramatic effect on our running game, which is something we set out to improve this offseason."

Graves might have been still been in "recruiting mode," but it's hard to argue with his take on James.

"He has been an important part in the Indianapolis' success as far as his running ability and as far as his pass receiving abilities," Graves stated. "We're looking to add all of those dimensions to our offense and help us to improve in an area where we indicated that if we had the opportunity to improve our running game we would.

"Edgerrin would definitely help us do that."

No doubt. And help is the right word with James joining an offense that already boasts a formidable passing attack led by Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.

And it's a unit that has struggled mightily to move the ball on the ground.

Still, James is optimistic about his future in Arizona.

"It's a great situation. All they really need is a back," he explained said at his introductory news conference. "They've got an MVP quarterback, they've got two Pro Bowl receivers. They got a back and they're going to shore up the offensive line."

Then he added, "OK it's a risk. But hey, I'm a poker player. You can take it to the river. I'm not scared to make a change. I'm not scared to go out on a limb and try something different."

While team officials have defended the efforts of last year's second-round draft pick J.J. Arrington -- and insisted they weren't interested in making any blockbuster moves at the position in free agency -- as recently as last month, the statistics don't lie.

The Cardinals were last in the league in rushing last season and were miserable in short-yardage and red-zone situations -- where they scored touchdowns just 28.3 percent of the time, second-worst in the league.

Even though poor play along the offensive line has clearly been a factor in the team's failure to move the ball effectively on the ground -- and it remains an area in need of improvement, James has the talent, experience and will necessary to make those around him play better.

Well. ... Except for Arrington and Marcel Shipp.

Meanwhile, editor Mike Florio suggests that no firm decisions or commitments have been made regarding whether and to what extent James will participate in voluntary offseason workouts.

His contract reportedly doesn't include workout bonuses.

James likes to spend his offseasons working out in Miami and he rarely has spent time in Indianapolis for non-mandatory -- and in some cases mandatory -- workouts during his tenure with the Colts.

Florio added that Green is a bit more demanding a coach than Tony Dungy, but if James continues to follow his usual practice of working with his fellow former Hurricanes at "The U," it shouldn't come as a surprise.

For what it's worth, James is the latest big-name running back over the last couple of days to bang out a lucrative deal. Earlier this off-season, Alexander, Ahman Green (Green Bay) and DeShaun Foster (Carolina) all re-signed with their respective teams.

Baltimore's Jamal Lewis remains the last big-name free agent running back on the open market.