First-round cornerback Kelly Jennings, who is expected to quickly challenge for a nickel job in the Seattle Seahawks' secondary and perhaps push incumbent Kelly Herndon for the starting left cornerback spot later in the 2006 season, has reached agreement with the club on a five-year contract.
The deal has a maximum value of about $9.5 million.
"All done. That's where I'm going now," Jennings told The Associated Press as he
headed off to sign the contract.
A former University of Miami star, Jennings was overshadowed early in his Hurricanes career by Antrel Rolle, the Arizona Cardinals' first-round choice in the 2005 draft. The departure of Rolle brought more focus to Jennings, and he responded by emerging as one of the nation's premier coverage defenders.
Although he lacks ideal size (5-feet-10 3/4, 178 pounds), Jennings is a very fluid athlete, a cornerback who can break quickly out of his backpedal and run deep with almost any receiver. But Jennings also plays bigger than his size and is not shy about getting physical with wideouts.
The two sides had closed in on a deal over the last few days and finished the final details on Sunday.
A onetime high school wide receiver, Jennings redshirted in 2001 and then earned a starting spot at right cornerback the following year. He was switched to nickel cornerback in 2004, then started on the left side his final two college seasons.
Jennings finished with 123 tackles, six interceptions, 23 passes defended and four forced fumbles.
Seattle coach Mike Holmgren had expressed frustrated on Saturday that
Jennings was not in camp on time.
"For the life of me, I've never understood that deal: All of a
sudden everyone's frantic on the Friday before camp and then, bang,
bang, bang, bang, everyone signs," he told the AP. "Why don't they start
on Wednesday? But they don't do it that way. I don't know. That's
why I don't negotiate contracts any more."