NEW YORK (Feb. 14, 2006) -- The New York Jets are attempting to renegotiate the contract of quarterback Chad Pennington, who missed much of the last two seasons because of an injured throwing shoulder.
These are more than routine steps to get under the salary cap by March 3, the first day of free agency, a person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations are ongoing. Rather, they are related to the right shoulder injury and questions of whether Pennington's arm will return to full strength.
The Jets will not comment.
Pennington signed a $64 million, seven-year deal two years ago. He is expected to have a salary cap number close to $12 million this season, including a $3 million roster bonus due in March. Even if the Jets cut him, they would take a salary hit of about $10 million because of the prorated salary cap.
Complicating the issue is the lack of an extension to the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players' union. The contract expires in 2008, but 2007 would be an uncapped season, leaving questions about the length and size of deals with free agents.
Pennington hurt his shoulder during the 2004 season, missed three games, then returned for the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. It was clear then that his arm strength was significantly reduced and after the season the team said he would have rotator cuff surgery.
He returned this year but was injured in the third game of the season and again had surgery, missing the rest of the season. The team's problems were compounded when Jay Fiedler, acquired as insurance in the offseason, was injured seven plays after Pennington and also was lost for the season.
That left the Jets with third-stringer Brooks Bollinger and 42-year-old Vinny Testaverde, and the team finished 4-12. After the season, coach Herman Edwards left for Kansas City and Mike Tannenbaum replaced general manager Terry Bradway.