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Panthers Give Beuerlein New Deal

Steve Beuerlein, who took over as the Carolina Panthers' starting quarterback last month amid questions about Kerry Collins' commitment, was given a three-year, $9 million contract extension Wednesday.

The deal, which covers the 1999-2001 seasons, includes a $1.5 million signing bonus.

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"I'm not making John Elway or Dan Marino or Steve Young money," Beuerlein said. "But I'm making more money than this little kid from Los Angeles ever thought he could make, and I'm very happy it's all worked out."

Beuerlein, who joined the Panthers in 1996 for $2.3 million over three years, had said in recent weeks that he did not want to become a free agent at the end of the season, preferring instead to re-sign with Carolina (1-8).

"This is exactly how my wife and I hoped it would work out," he said. "I'm just anxious to help us get back on the winning track."

Beuerlein, 33, was originally signed to be the top backup to Collins, who in 1995 became the Panthers' first-ever draft pick. But Collins had his share of struggles and was cut last month after team officials said he told them he had lost his heart for being the starter.

His departure handed the starting job to Beuerlein, who has been mainly a backup in his 12-year NFL career. His last stint as a full-time starter was in 1995 before the Jacksonville Jaguars awarded the job to Mark Brunell.

"He has been a team player since he joined the Panthers, regardless of his role," Carolina coach Dom Capers said of Beuerlein. "He is a player who is held in high regard by his teammates and has come through on the field."

Beuerlein has started just 12 games for Carolina but has recorded four of thfranchise's top eight single-game passing performances.

He has started the last five games and completed 65 percent of his passes, tops in the NFL. He has the third-highest quarterback rating in the NFC, behind only those of Randall Cunningham and Steve Young.

On Nov. 1, Beuerlein completed 13 of 17 passes to help the Panthers win their first game of the season and end a club-record nine-game losing skid.

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