Jesse James trades drama for big money

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Former Steelers tight end Jesse James says he’s glad to be away from all the drama in Pittsburgh. Getting paid a ton of money helps, too.

The player who caught only 30 passes and started only seven games last year ended up with a four-year, $22.6 million deal in Detroit. The details are as follows, per a source with knowledge of the transaction:

1. Signing bonus: $7.145 million.

2. 2019 base salary: $805,000 fully guaranteed.

3. 2020 base salary: $3.8 million, $2.55 million of which is fully guaranteed.

4. 2021 base salary: $4.95 million.

5. 2022 base salary: $5.7 million.

6. 2019-2022 workout bonuses: $50,000.

The deal includes a fifth year at a salary of $5.9 million, but the contract voids if James is still on the roster on the fifth day after the Super Bowl to end the 2022 season. The phony year bumps the perceived annual average from $5.65 million to $5.7 million. But, again, it’s a phony year; the real average is $5.65 million.

The deal also included up to $1.2 million in escalators for 2021 and 2022, based on playing time, catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns.

James was largely supplanted by Vance McDonald last year in Pittsburgh, with McDonald starting nine of the team’s 16 games.