From The Times (emphasis mine):
The Redskins enter free agency today pursuing defensive players they hope will make more of an impact on a unit whose performance dropped sharply in a 5-11 season.
Atop the Redskins' list is Buffalo Bills middle linebacker London Fletcher-Baker, who could receive a deal as lucrative as those given to safety Adam Archuleta, defensive end Andre Carter and receivers Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El in free agency a year ago.
Adam Archuleta: 7 year 35M dollar deal with 5M in signing bonus and 8M in other bonuses. Base salaries 2007 through 2012 are 595K, 1M, 4M, 5M, 6M, 5M.
Andre Carter: 7 year 32.5M dollar deal with 5M in signing bonuses and 17.8M in other bonuses. Base salaries 2007 through 2012 are 595K, 920K, 2M, 2M, 2M, 2M.
Brandon Lloyd: 7 year 29M dollar deal with 5M in signing bonuses and 6.8M in other bonuses. Base salaries 2007 through 2012 are 595K, 605K, 3.5M, 4M, 4M, 4M.
Antwaan Randle-El: 7 year 31.25M with 5M in signing bonuses and 6.5M in other bonuses. Base salaries 2007 through 2012 are 595K, 820K, 4M, 4.25M, 4.5M, 5M.
Quick note: I think the final year of all those contracts is voidable. I'm not sure, though.
Personally, given how expensive this Free Agency is sounding, I would be thrilled if we could get London Fletcher signed to one of the above deals. Obviously the 7 year nonsense doesn't make much sense for a 31 year old Linebacker, but if we could walk away from London Fletcher paying out the equivalent of 4M a year I could live with that.
The above contracts were signed in 2006 and all players went for the minimum salary or close to it in their first year. Notice the contracts balloon after year two so, while you're paying out an average of around 4-5+M a year through the contract, you pay considerably lower amounts in years one and two and considerably higher amounts in years 3-7. That's not an unusual way to structure contracts by any means. I have some criticisms with that strategy overall but I understand the pros of it and can live with it.
That should give you an idea of where we're at with Fletcher, if the Times is correct. Now, if they mean that Fletcher will get 30M no matter what the years on the contract, than I say that's questionable. He's not going to be playing on this team in 2013 at his age, or contributing in a way that could possibly justify whatever backloaded salary they offer. Meaning a 3 to 5 year deal at 30M pays out considerably more than 4-5+M a year.
I am also a firm believer in only signing contracts you intend to finish. Signing players to contracts knowing you plan to cut them later is foolishness as Dead Cap Space is never a good thing and only sufferable as a necessary evil. You should never plan on accruing Dead Cap Hits, only picking them up when circumstances demand.
In my opinion, the definition of a successful contract is one that dies of old age. Reasonable minds may disagree.