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Chargers agree to terms with QB Ryan Leaf

Posted: Sat July 25, 1998 at 11:44 p.m. EDT

Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf, the second overall pick in the April NFL draft, tonight agreed to terms with the San Diego Chargers on a six-year contract including a rookie-record $11.25 million signing bonus.

The 6-5 Leaf joins the Chargers after leading Washington State to its first Rose Bowl in 67 years. He will report to Chargers' training camp on Sunday night and participate in his first practice Monday morning.

If Leaf ranks in the top five in a series of statistical categories, he can earn as much as $31.250 million. The deal also contains $1.5 million worth of incentives.

The signing bonus is $5 million more than the St. Louis Rams gave offensive tackle Orlando Pace, the top pick of the 1997 draft. It also exceeds the $7.125 million running back Ki-Jana Carter received from the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995.

Leigh Steinberg, Leaf's agent, told that the deal can and will likely be voided after three years if certain triggers are met, such as playing time. San Diego can buy back two years and the five-year sum would work out to $25 million.

"We're excited. We were very determined to get it done because we knew how important it is to get rookies in (camp) on time," said Steinberg.

Leaf also will make several donations out of his contract to promote his image as a good role model, including a Pop Warner football league in Montana; the Washington State athletic department; and the San Diego chapter of the Cancer Society.

The Chargers sent a king's ransom to the Arizona Cardinals on March 12th in order to move up one spot into the second position in the draft. For switching first-round picks, the Chargers gave Arizona a 1998 second-round pick, a first-rounder in 1999, kick returner-receiver Eric Metcalf and linebacker Patrick Sapp.

Leaf completed 210-of-375 passes for 3,637 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last year, his junior season. He spent most of his career playing in a run-and-shoot type offense with five wide receivers, so adjusting to the NFL style might be difficult, though he joins a pair of offensive gurus in coach Kevin Gilbride and quarterbacks coach June Jones.

© 1998 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP

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