CINCINNATI (Dec. 29, 2005) -- The Cincinnati Bengals gave quarterback Carson Palmer a six-year contract extension through 2014, aiming to bring long-term success to a franchise finally having its breakthrough season.
Palmer, who won the Heisman Trophy at Southern California in 2003, was under contract through 2008. The extension gives the Bengals more salary-cap flexibility for next season, because his bonuses will be spread out over more years.
It also sends a message that the Bengals are serious about winning for years to come.
"We've knocked down another one of those walls," coach Marvin Lewis said.
The Bengals (11-4) have won the AFC North for their first playoff appearance since 1990. They will finish the regular season Jan. 1 in Kansas City, then will play host to a first-round playoff game.
Palmer and Lewis have been the main factors in Cincinnati's turnaround. The Bengals went 14 seasons without a winning record, one of the longest slumps in NFL history.
In only his second season as a starter, Palmer has broken the franchise mark for touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl. The Bengals are the only team in the NFL to return all 11 offensive starters this season.
Palmer hopes his extension convinces some of his teammates to stay as well. Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson has talked about staying in Cincinnati long-term to set records with Palmer.
"The future's very exciting," Palmer said. "The Bengals are doing a phenomenal job of building a team for the future."
Palmer signed with the Bengals two days before the 2003 NFL Draft, a break from the franchise's history of squabbling with top draft picks over money.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved