Although the facts are different, the background to Willie Parker's premature contract extension today seems instructively - and eerily - similar to Branch's pending situation. Here is some of what profootballtalk.com said about Parker's fait accompli" Trading in the risk that he'll be seriously injured while operating under a one-year, $425,000 deal that he signed earlier this year as an exclusive rights free agent, Steelers running back Willie Parker signed a four-year, $13.6 million extension, which includes a $3.75 million signing bonus. So now he's tied up through 2010, during which time the salary cap will continue to grow at unprecedented rates. And when he hits the open market, he'll be 30. .... Though we're not saying it was a bad move for Parker to take less money right now, he could have been in line for a deal in the range of five years and $25 million, which is the going benchmark for backs not named Edgerrin James or Shaun Alexander, if Parker had made it through 2006 healthy and effective. So in exchange for taking less money than he might have gotten in the future but getting more security than he otherwise would have had in the present, we don't want to hear Parker or his agent talking about how Willie has "outperformed" his deal if he churns out 1,500 yards and/or 15 touchdowns over the next two seasons. His job is to perform to the best of his ability, regardless of compensation. If he turns out to be another Amos Zereoue, Parker doesn't have to pay back the $3.75 million signing bonus. If he turns out to be another Jerome Bettis, Parker likewise has no right to hold up the team for a raise. Put simply, in exchange for transferring to the team the risk that he'll turn out to be an overpaid one-year wonder, Parker is assuming the risk that he'll be an underpaid superstar. Touche, Twig ?