Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but reports stated that the contract was worth in excess of $25m (pounds 15.4m), a figure that would put Fields on a par with the top National Football League players at his position, such as Levon Kirkland of Pittsburgh, Junior Seau of San Diego and Derrick Thomas of Kansas City.
The 26-year-old Fields, the 13th overall pick in the 1995 draft, has 55 tackles and four sacks in eight games after missing the season opener with a knee injury.
In 1997, Fields had 108 tackles and eight sacks, the best record of the Saints linebackers.
The Carolina Panthers, mired in a miserable 1-8 season, received more bad news yesterday when they learned that their starting cornerback, Doug Evans, will be sidelined for at least six weeks with a separated right shoulder.
With only seven games left to play, the Panthers will probably place Evans on injured reserve. He is the second-highest paid cornerback in the NFL, on a five-year deal worth $22.5m.Reuse content