Ty Law says he didn't need to be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. He just wants to play like him.
"The first name that you hear when people say cornerback is Deion Sanders... I would even say Deion Sanders," Law said Friday after agreeing to a contract extension that could pay him $50 million over the next seven years.
"I want to be at that same level. When I retire, five years later I want to be inducted into the Hall of Fame."
Law, who had one year remaining on the contract he signed as a rookie in 1995, agreed to a six-year entension that makes him the second-highest paid cornerback in football behind Sanders. Both the total package and the $14.2 million signing bonus are the biggest in franchise history.
"It's a special contract," said Patriots vice president Andy Wasynczuk, "but we think we have a real special player."
The deal is structured so that it frees up about $450,000 in salary cap space this season, Wasynczuk said. He also said he did not expect any complaints from quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who had been the highest-paid player on the team since he signed his seven-year, $42 million deal in 1995.
"Ty is obviously a key part of this club. Drew is a key part," Wasynczuk said. "Drew's deal was done four years ago. When we get to his deal, the market will still be changing. The most important thing is putting together the deal that makes sense at the time."
Law, the Patriots' first-round draft choice in 1995, led the team with nine interceptions last season and was named co-MVP in the Pro Bowl. He has 18 interceptions in four seasons, good for 10th on the team's all-time list.
"He has separated himself (from the pack) as a tremendous play-maker," coach Pete Carroll said. "It's rare that we have the opportunity to draft a guy No. 1, see him come through to this level and really be able to reward him for his accomplishments."
Law's first chance to prove his worth it comes Saturday night in an exhibition game against Sanders' Dallas Cowboys. But Sanders, who makes about $10 million per year, will not play in the game because he is recovering from an injury to his left big toe.
Sanders said this week he didn't know when he would be back. "My goal is just whatever the Lord will have me to do, brother," he said.
The Cowboys are playing for the third time this preseason, and coach Chan Gailey said he'll use his first teams a little more than he has in the previous two games.
But he will also take advantage of the opportunity to look at the players on the fringes.
"I'd say this is bg week for them," Gailey said. "... But there's time left for people to make moves, up and down."
Gailey is winless in seven preseason games over two summers. The skid is the longest by a Cowboys coach, topping a pair of six-game losing streaks Tom Landry endured.
Still, he knows it's only the preseason.
"I want to win," Gailey said. "I wanted that last week and the week before and the five last year. But am I going to play the starters all game so I can get a win? No. I'm not."
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