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Falcons sign top pick CB Michael Booker to five-year deal
Posted: Wed July 16, 1997 at 7:24 p.m. EDTThe Atlanta Falcons today signed the last and most important of their nine 1997 draft picks, first-round selection and cornerback Michael Booker, to a five-year contract. Booker, the Defensive MVP of the 1996 Fiesta Bowl for Nebraska, was the 11th pick in the April draft. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Booker won two national championships with the Cornhuskers, and is the highest NFL draft choice to sign thus far. "My agent wanted me to be here, and I also wanted to be in camp," he said. "I wanted to be here as soon as possible so I could learn everything, step in and play as soon as possible. I felt the earlier that I'm in camp, the better chance I have of playing." Financial terms were not disclosed, but according to today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons will guarantee more than 60 percent of his $8.2 million contract, which is rare. Booker will receive a $2.2 million signing bonus, while the Falcons also guaranteed the base salaries for Booker's first three seasons -- $800,000 (in 1997), $1.0 million ('98) and $1.2 million ('99). Booker was a second-team All-Big 12 selection in 1996 after starting every game at left cornerback. He recorded 25 tackles and was second on the team in breakups with eight. Booker has excellent speed, running a 4.44 in the 40, and possesses a vertical leap of 39 1/2. The selection of Booker continued a drastic overhaul of the Atlanta secondary. The Falcons lost cornerback Darnell Walker and safety Brad Edwards to free agency and signed corners Ray Buchanan and Ronnie Bradford and safety William White. This is the first time since 1994 that the Falcons have all their draft picks signed before training camp, which starts today.
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