Pennington gets two-year, $11.5M deal with Dolphins

Updated: August 9, 2008, 1:10 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Chad Pennington entered the New York Jets' training camp unsure if he would start or play backup to Kellen Clemens.

Looking For a Leader

After being replaced by a legend in New York, Chad Pennington will now become the 13th QB to try to replace a legend in Miami. Since Dan Marino, who is second to Brett Favre in career completions, attempts, passing yards, and passing TD, retired after the 1999 NFL season, 12 different QBs have started a game for the Dolphins. Here's a look:

Name Starts W-L Seasons
Jay Fiedler* 59 36-23 2000-04
Gus Frerotte 15 9-6 2005
Joey Harrington 11 5-6 2006
A.J. Feeley 8 3-5 2004
Cleo Lemon 8 1-7 2006-07
Ray Lucas 6 2-4 2001-02
Brian Griese 5 3-2 2003
Trent Green 5 0-5 2007
Daunte Culpepper 4 1-3 2006
John Beck 4 0-4 2007-08
Sage Rosenfels 2 0-2 2002-05
Damon Huard 1 1-0 1998-2000
*Only QB to win a playoff game with team

One day after his release from New York, he found what looks to be a starting job with the Miami Dolphins. Pennington, 32, agreed Friday night to a two-year, $11.5 million contract that pretty well locks him into starting.

Contacted by six teams on Thursday, Pennington wasted no time reuniting with the person who brought him into the NFL as a first-round pick of the Jets in 2000, current Dolphins vice president of football operations Bill Parcells.

Parcells pushed hard over the past 48 hours to get a deal with Pennington done. Pennington was scheduled to make $6 million with the Jets but was released when they acquired Brett Favre from the Green Bay. The Packers get a fourth-round choice that could be upgraded to a No. 1 depending on Favre's play.

Top backup quarterbacks usually make about $3 million a year, which makes it apparent the Dolphins plan to use Pennington in a starting role.

The Dolphins, coming off a 1-15 season, will open the season against the Jets in Miami, giving Pennington an immediate chance to face his former team.

Before the signing, Pennington said he was disappointed but had no hard feelings after being released by the Jets.

"I have enjoyed it," Pennington told the AP Friday in his first public comments since his release. "I've learned a lot, become a better professional and a better man because of my experience and my time in New York. I don't regret or feel ashamed about anything that happened to me in my time in New York.

"The most difficult part is just the realization that the organization no longer wants you. You spend eight years there and, in the blink of an eye, you're no longer wanted there."

Pennington ranks first in NFL history among quarterbacks with at least 1,500 attempts with a 65.6 completion percentage. He was often recognized as being a leader in the huddle and an intelligent field general, but was dogged throughout his time in New York for his lack of arm strength.

With Pennington as the starter and Parcells liking his second-round choice, Chad Henne, the Dolphins will probably be in a position to release or trade one of their other quarterbacks. Josh McCown had been considered the top quarterback on their depth chart. He signed a two-year, $6.25 million contract this winter. John Beck, a second-round choice last year, had been running third string behind McCown and Henne.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer