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QB to get $22 million in guaranteed money

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."