Giants extend QB Kerry Collins contract

The New York Giants signed quarterback Kerry Collins through the 2004 season, agreeing to a two-year contract extension Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the start of training camp.

Collins, who would have become a free agent after this season, will earn $15.4 million over the next three seasons. The deal will create enough salary cap room to enable the Giants to re-sign backup quarterback Jason Garrett.

Collins, who led the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2000, would have earned $4 million this season in the final year of a four-year $16 million contract.

Under terms of the extension, Collins will receive a $5.85 million signing bonus, but his salary this year will drop to $650,000. Over the next two years, he will earn a combined $8 million to $9 million.

``I'm excited,'' said Collins, who has thrown every pass for the Giants over the past two seasons. ``I want to be here. I am glad this isn't going to be my last season. I feel comfortable here. I love the organization.

``It's something I hoped would happen, and I hoped it would happen before this season,'' Collins said. ``I didn't want to go through this season as a lame-duck quarterback.''

Until the past couple of days, Collins felt there was no way he was going to be able to avoid that status.

The eight-year veteran from Penn State set a July 1 deadline for getting a new deal. Talks continued after that, but Collins said his agent, David Dunn, indicated recently that the chances of working out a new deal didn't look good.

All that changed early Wednesday afternoon when Collins agreed to a shorter term and the Giants made other concessions.

``It's nice to know you are going to be their guy, and you're going to help them win ballgames,'' said Collins, who resurrected his career with the Giants after stumbling early because of problems with alcohol.

``That's worth more than anything, even money, to know the organization is behind you,'' he added.

In 42 games with the Giants, Collins has completed 828 of 1,428 passes for 9,692 yards and 49 touchdowns, ranking him among the franchise's career leaders.

``Kerry took us to the Super Bowl,'' Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi said. ``It's the most important position on the team. (Bengals president) Mike Brown said until you have to go out and find a quarterback you don't know how hard it is to find one. So this protects us, too.''

Besides giving the Giants money to sign Garrett, the extension puts the Giants about $1.2 million under the cap, giving them emergency money for the season, Accorsi added.

Accorsi said the deal with Collins won't affect talks with defensive end Michael Strahan, who also can become a free agent after this season. Accorsi has spoken with Tony Agnone, Strahan's agent, in recent months, but the talks have been somewhat informal.

Accorsi said the Giants are negotiating with tight end Jeremy Shockey, their top draft pick, and noted that receiver Tim Carter, their second round pick, is very close to signing.