The Chicago Bears decided Lovie Smith was the right coach to lead the team into the next decade with hopefully a few more Super Bowl appearances.
A week after Smith's agent said negotiations were so stalled the coach would probably leave after the 2007 season, the Bears signed Smith to a four-year contract extension through 2011 on Wednesday.
The lowest-paid coach in the NFL last season at US$1.35 million (Ђ1.02 million) when he led the Bears to the Super Bowl, Smith's deal will average about US$4.7 million (EUR3.56 million) per season over five years.
Smith will make US$22 million (EUR16.65 million) in new money and the total value of the five years is US$23.45 million (EUR17.75 million), the Chicago Tribune reported. Smith was scheduled to make US$1.45 million (EUR1.1 million) this season in the final year of his initial four-year contract.
The deal was announced by the team Wednesday night, as was an extension through 2013 for general manager Jerry Angelo.
Smith, the 2005 NFL coach of the year, led the Bears to a 15-4 record and their first NFC championship in more than two decades last season before they lost 29-17 to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.
In Baltimore, Jamal Lewis, whose 2,066 yards rushing in 2003 were second most in NFL history, was cut by the Ravens, reports AP.
He was one of several players released as teams maneuvered to find salary cap space before the free-agent period starts Friday. However, the Ravens said they are still attempting to re-sign Lewis.