NEW YORK - Just beating the deadline set by their quarterback, the New York Jets have made Chad Pennington the highest-paid player in franchise history.

The Jets announced Wednesday that they have finalized a contract extension with Pennington on a deal reported to be worth $23 million in guaranteed money over seven years. Incentives and bonuses could push the value of the pact to $64 million.

"I understand the hard work that the entire Jets' organization and my agency have put into the contract," Pennington said. "It has been a total team effort and I appreciate the patience on both sides."

Pennington's agent, Tom Condon, and Jets assistant general manager Mike Tannenbaum spent the last week working out the deal.

"I am extremely excited about being a Jet for a long time," Pennington said. "Most importantly, I am looking forward to leading our organization to the ultimate prize, a Super Bowl Championship."

Pennington, who was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2004 season, had set a September 1 deadline for a new contract.

The New York Giants recently gave quarterback Eli Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft, a six-year contract worth $45 million, with another $9 million in incentives.

The Jets surpassed that for Pennington, who took over as the team's starter during the 2002 season and led the NFL with a quarterback rating of 104.2, completing 69 percent of his passes for 3,120 yards and 22 touchdowns with six interceptions.

Last August, Pennington broke his left wrist in a preseason game and missed the first six games of the regular season. He completed 189-of-297 passes for 2,139 yards and 13 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.

A first-round pick in 2000, Pennington played in just three games as a backup in his first two seasons.

"Chad has all the characteristics of a true role model," New York head coach Herm Edwards said. "He has a great command and presence on the football field and is a team leader. Jets' fans need to know one thing about Chad Pennington; he'll do whatever it takes to lead this team to a championship."