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Bettis, Steelers Deal Confirmed

March 2, 2001

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Running back Jerome Bettis has agreed to a six-year $30 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, his agent said.

The tentative deal includes a $6 million signing bonus, agent Lamont Smith said. Bettis and team representatives were still working out incentives that could make the contract worth $35 million when it is signed.

The team was expected to announce the deal Friday.

``It’s an opportunity for Jerome to retire a Steeler,″ Smith said Thursday. ``This deal is less than what he could have gotten in an open market place. In this era of greed, it’s commendable again for Jerome to do this in order to stay with this club.″

This would be the second time Bettis turned down a more lucrative contract to remain in Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old running back declined a big offer from the Washington Redskins four years ago.

Bettis will receive about $9 million in the first two years, including the signing bonus, $484,000 in base salary this year and about $2.5 million next year.

The deal comes after the Steelers released two veterans, defensive end Kevin Henry and fullback Jon Witman.

Henry is one of few players remaining from the 1995 Super Bowl team. His salary would have reached $1.4 million, more than twice what he received last year.

Both men were starters the last several years, though Witman missed the final 10 games last season because of a broken leg.

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