Baker signs extension worth $8.5 million with Panthers

Six-year veteran Jason Baker, one of the NFL's top young punters, has signed a five-year contract extension with the Carolina Panthers.

Jason Baker


Carolina Panthers


Baker, 29, had one year remaining on his current deal and would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring without the extension. The extension is worth $8.5 million and makes Baker one of the NFL's highest paid punters.

"He's a very steady player and he's our kind of person,"
general manager Marty Hurney said.

The former Iowa star was released six times before landing full-time employment in the league. In his two seasons with the Panthers, who acquired him from Denver in a 2005 trade that sent three-time Pro Bowl punter Todd Sauerbrun to the Broncos, Baker has averaged 44.7 yards gross and 39.2 yards net.

In 87 games with San Francisco (2001-02), Philadelphia (2002), Kansas City (2003-04), Indianapolis (2004), Denver (2004-05) and Carolina (2005-06), he has a gross average of 41.8 yards and a 35.7-yard net average. Baker has also averaged 62.2 yards on 170 kickoffs.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.