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Graham, Bucs agree to contract extension

TAMPA — Earnest Graham's patience finally paid off.

Big time.

The Bucs running back has agreed to a four-year deal worth $11-million, ending any possibility of a training camp holdout.

The agreement was reported Sunday night by Graham, 28, did not participate in voluntary workouts or the offseason workout program, presumably because he wanted a contract extension. He did take part in mandatory minicamp.

Terms of the deal have not been released, so it's not known how much of that $11-million is guaranteed or if it includes a signing bonus.

Graham could not be reached Sunday night. But he had expressed optimism that an agreement would be reached before training camp. He downplayed his absence from the offseason workout program — which has been his routine for most of his five-year pro career.

"I'm doing the same thing I've always done," Graham said earlier this year. "I'm working hard in the offseason and getting ready for camp. That other thing will take care of itself."

The former Florida Gator emerged as a starter for the first time last season after injuries to Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman. Graham, whose rushing high was 83 yards in 2005, totaled 898 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He will be an integral part of a backfield that includes Warrick Dunn, 33, and Michael Bennett, 29.

While Graham took the silent approach, quarterback Jeff Garcia has been vocal about his disgust over the lack of progress in his talks with the Bucs on a contract extension. With Graham in the fold, the team could turn its attention to reaching an accord with the 38-year-old.

Graham, who was entering the final year of his contract that would have paid him a base salary of about $600,000, has said others deserve to be rewarded.

"I think a lot of people stood up and played well," he said. "I think a lot of people benefited from what happened last year, and I think everybody will be taken care of."

There's still plenty of time before the team reports to training camp July 25.

Graham, Bucs agree to contract extension 06/29/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 4, 2008 1:52pm]
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