QB to get $22 million in guaranteed money

Updated: August 31, 2004, 7:43 PM ET
Associated Press

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The money is nice. No, the money is very nice.

Still, Chad Pennington sees more than dollar signs in the rich contract extension he's about to get from the New York Jets.

The quarterback, entering his fifth season, is close on a deal that will net him about $22 million in guaranteed money. His agent, Tom Condon, and Jets negotiator Mike Tannenbaum, who does not comment on contracts, were meeting Tuesday to finalize details. The contract is expected to run six or seven years.

Condon told The Associated Press: "There are still a few things to work out."

"Getting an extension is not going to make me play better or make me rest my head easier or anything like that," Pennington said after practice Tuesday.

"What an extension does, in my opinion, it gives you a sense of excitement knowing you have more than one chance to help this team, and it is not just a one-year thing. If things should happen, I know for a fact I will have some time to get to build a championship program. What is exciting is that I can finish what we started."

Pennington, 18th overall pick in the 2000 draft, has been the Jets' starter in only 23 games. He took over a month into 2002 for the benched Vinny Testaverde and led the team's turnaround to win the AFC East crown and one playoff game. Pennington was the league's most efficient passer.

A year ago, he broke his wrist and hand in an exhibition game and was sidelined for two months. The Jets wound up 6-10, and their poor record emphasized Pennington's value.

With the 2004 season being the last under the contract he signed as a first-round draft choice, the team recognized the need to re-sign Pennington before he became a free agent. Pennington set a deadline of Sept. 1, but now says that is flexible. He simply wants the deal done before the season begins, or else negotiations will be cut off.

Pennington indicated Tuesday such a scenario is not likely, and that the deal will get done. Condon said the deadline actually is after the final preseason game, which is Sept. 3.

"I am not a dictator here," Pennington said, laughing. "All I ask is that I can focus when we start preparing for Cincinnati [in the opener Sept. 12]. I don't have any negative vibes. I have always felt confident something would get done, but I am not nervous about the situation and I don't feel any stress about the situation. I feel confident that something will get done.

"Both sides understand that. That is why I think we will get something done, because both sides have respect for each other. We both know what our main, primary goal is, and that is to win a championship. Tom and Mike Tannenbaum understand that, so we all know that if something doesn't come out, we have to put it to rest until next offseason."

Then he smiled and made it clear he expects a new pay scale to be in place soon.

"An extension means I can play in New York. I like it here and my family likes it here," he said. "And it provides some stability."

Curtis Martin, the highest-paid Jet, will make $5.2 million this season. Pennington could come close to doubling that yearly number.

Martin thinks Pennington's new contract will be well-deserved.

"I don't say it because he's my teammate and I think he's a good guy," Martin said, "but Chad is a good quarterback and he's as smart as they come. When I look at him mentally, there are very few quarterbacks I see in the same light -- like Peyton Manning -- who mentally see the whole game, the whole picture. You know that they know the game so well, almost like a chess guru.

"He has a football mind, whether it's natural or not I don't know. I know he's prepared as well as anyone, and he's always here studying or lifting weights or going over the game plan ...

"He should have built his house next to our facility."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press