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Flutie, Bills Reach Agreement


Doug Flutie reached agreement Monday on a contract extension with Buffalo that will give the Bills two $5 million quarterbacks.

Flutie was expected to sign the four-year, $22 million deal Tuesday. The extension will pay the Pro Bowl quarterback $6 million up front.

Flutie's Boston-based agent, Jack Mula, who last week called the month-long negotiations "arduous," said the deal was all but wrapped up over the weekend, when Flutie spoke by telephone with Bills owner Ralph Wilson and expressed a desire to remain with the Bills.

"Buffalo is the team that gave Doug a chance," Mula said. "He still wants to give something back. Buffalo put the money where the mouth is."

Rob Johnson, last year's starter until going out with a rib injury in the fifth game, signed a $25 million contract last offseason. Flutie took over and led the Bills to a 10-6 record and a wild-card playoff berth after they started the season 0-3.

The cash crunch at the quarterback position made for tough negotiations, Mula said.

"Buffalo had to find a way to reward Flutie while keeping Rob Johnson," Mula said. "That's why it was difficult. I'm happy. Doug's happy."

"They're paying two quarterbacks over $5 million per year. That's a first for the National Football League."

Wilson said at the league meetings in Phoenix that the team "needs two No. 1 quarterbacks" and will keep both Johnson and Flutie. "

"We will not cut or trade Rob Johnson," Wilson said with emphasis.

After Flutie secured the starting job last season, Johnson said, "If it does (go on beyond this year), I probably won't be here. You can't pay a guy this much to be a backup, and I'm not a backup in this league."

Johnson also said he would re-evaluate the situation with agent Leigh Steinberg after the season if he remained the No. 2 guy.

Flutie is just the latest veteran quarterback to parlay a strong 1998 season into a big contract.

New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde received a $19.5 million three-year extension, and Randall Cunningham reportedly received a $25 million deal from Minnesota.

Testaverde took New York to a 12-4 record and the AFC East title. He was 12-1 after replacing Glenn Foley as starter, and threw 29 TD passes with only seven interceptions.

Despite a Pro Bowl year and selection as NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Flutie's status for next season remained uncertain after the 1998 season.

Flutie signed as a free agent after eight seasons in the Canadian Football League and was told he would have a shot at the starting job in Buffalo. But he became Johnson's backup even before training camp.

He posted a 7-3 mark in his starts, including 5-1 in six home starts, and completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 2,711 yards and 20 touchdowns.

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