The late afternoon mood in the parking lot outside the Falcons' living quarters here summed it up Wednesday.
As running back Jamal Anderson got out of the stretch limousine, he made a beeline for starting offensive linemen Bob Whitfield, Ephraim Salaam and Calvin Collins, who screamed, "Big Money!".
The nickname perfectly fit Anderson, who agreed to a five-year, $32-million contract. The value of the deal and the $7.5-million signing bonus are franchise records. He'll become one of the NFL's three highest-paid backs.
The highs came last year when quarterback Chris Chandler signed a five-year, $27-million deal with a $6-million signing bonus.
"Believe me; I'm happy. We'll have the new dance so everybody will be smiling," Anderson said. "It'll be the, "Y2K Dirty Bird.' I won't have any problem. I'm like Baryshnikov, a natural."
Anderson still faces fines of $5,000 for each day he missed in training camp, approximately $60,000.
"That was the important thing to me, to come in here and get the deal done and to remain a player for the Falcons, hopefully for the rest of my career," the 26-year-old Anderson said.
BILLS: FB Shawn Bryson will miss the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Bryson, 22, was hurt in a non-contact drill and will be out six to eight months.
CHIEFS: DE John Browning will be out indefinitely after tearing his right Achilles' tendon. Browning, 25, had surgery on the ankle Wednesday. DE Dan Williams suffered a quadriceps muscle injury, but will be back soon.
COLTS: Indianapolis signed veteran quarterback Steve Walsh, a former Buccaneer, and released quarterback Stoney Case. The Colts are the sixth NFL team for Walsh, who was drafted by Dallas in 1989.
DOLPHINS: Seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Richmond Webb may miss the start of the season because of a contract stalemate. Coach Jimmy Johnson predicted that Webb will wait until just before the season to sign.
JETS: QB Vinny Testaverde's jammed thumb isn't serious enough to keep him out of Saturday's preseason game. He practiced Wednesday with little pain.
LIONS: Barry Sanders could return to Detroit as soon as next season, his father said. Sanders' father, William, met for two days with a member of the team's front office to talk about whether his son is committed to retirement. "I feel the door is still open, I really do," William Sanders said from his home in Wichita, Kan.
SAINTS: New Orleans signed safety Willie Clay to a one-year contract. Clay, 28, was released by the Patriots on July 28 after three seasons.
SEAHAWKS: The team agreed to terms with its first-round draft choice, Lamar King, and unrestricted free-agent wide receiver Michael Jackson. King, a 6-foot-3, 294-pounder from Saginaw Valley State, was the 22nd player selected in the draft. King reportedly agreed to a five-year contract for $5.075-million, with a $3.6-million signing bonus.
VIKINGS: The team said Dimitrius Underwood doesn't want to play, so it cut ties with the first-round draft pick who went AWOL after his first pro practice on Aug. 2. The team announced a financial settlement in which Underwood's approximately $543,000 in bonus funds, most of which were frozen at his bank upon his disappearance, would be returned to the team. When that happens, Underwood will be waived. If Underwood is claimed, his new team would be responsible for his $475,000 base salary for 1999. But the Vikings would take the salary-cap hit for his entire $1.725-million partially deferred signing bonus this season, rather than a prorated one-fifth slice of it. If he weren't picked up, the cap number this year would be only $345,000, the 20 percent cut of his bonus.