Panthers reward their QB

Posted: Friday, June 18, 2004

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jake Delhomme was rewarded Thursday for helping guide the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl, getting a five-year contract extension worth $38 million.

Delhomme will get $12 million up front, including a signing bonus and option bonuses. Delhomme had one year remaining on his two-year contract. Delhomme relieved Rodney Peete at halftime against Jacksonville in the first game of the season and led the team back from a 17-point deficit to win 24-23.

He started 19 straight games after that, leading the Panthers to playoff victories over Dallas, St. Louis and Philadelphia. Then he threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns in a last-minute 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. In the regular season, Delhomme threw for 3,219 yards with 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

''It's kind of a dream come true,'' Delhomme said. ''When you're coming out of college undrafted, you're just trying to hang on by a thread. Luckily I did. It's funny how things work out.''

The deal came on the final day of the team's three-week minicamp.

''Everybody in the league is trying identify their quarterback, and when you identify that guy, getting him locked up for the future is paramount to your success,'' Panthers head coach John Fox said.

Delhomme was also relieved to get the deal done.

''I've been around guys who haven't performed their best with a contract lingering over their heads,'' Delhomme said. ''Having that behind me, now it's just total football when training camp starts.''

The Panthers also used the offseason to wrap up Delhomme's favorite target, receiver Steve Smith, with a six-year, $28 million contract.

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