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Wednesday, March 5
Updated: March 12, 4:22 PM ET
Safety, Cards agree on five-year, $14 million deal

By John Clayton

The Arizona Cardinals intercepted Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson two days after he was close to becoming a Pittsburgh Steelers.

By adding more money to their proposal over the past 48 hours, the Cardinals reached agreement Wednesday with Jackson, making him one of the highest paid free safeties in football. Jackson agreed to a five-year, $14 million deal that included a $2.75 million signing bonus.

Dexter Jackson
On Monday, the Steelers thought they had a deal with Jackson, who had all but accepted a five-year, $12.25 million contract offer that included a $2.75 million signing bonus.

The Cardinals kept putting more money in their offers that widened the differences over the first three years of the contract by $2.5 million. Under the Cardinals deal, Jackson will make $9.5 million compared to the $7 million over the first three years of the Steelers contract.

When the Cardinals increased their signing bonus from $2.4 million to $2.75 million and added almost $2 million to the entire five-year package, Jackson said yes.

That switch to the Cardinals naturally didn't please Steelers management.

"Dexter was all set to go to Pittsburgh, but you have to credit the Cardinals for showing the desire to get better as a team," said Jackson's agent, Peter Schaffer. "The Cardinals stepped up and impressed Dexter with what they are trying to do as an organization."

For Jackson, the Cardinals deal was a chance to cash in on his Super Bowl performance. Unfortunately for Jackson, the Bucs had a tight salary cap and couldn't offer more than $1 million and $1.5 million a year.

Jackson is considered the prime free safety in free agency. Jackson, 25, was a fourth-round choice of the Bucs in 1999 and became a fulltime starter in 2001.

John Clayton is a senior writer for

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