Cooley signs contract extension

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ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Funny that a player nicknamed "Captain Chaos" would be seeking stability. Tight end Chris Cooley got just that Saturday, signing a US$30-million, six-year contract extension with the Washington Redskins.

The contract includes $14 million in guaranteed money for the player whose colourful outfits and antics are matched only by his reliability and strength as one of the Redskins' best offensive weapons. Cooley caught 57 passes for 734 yards and six touchdowns last season and led all NFL tight ends in yards after the catch (7.35) and yards after contact (4.1).

"It feels so good," Cooley said. "My biggest worry was that I just wanted to be here. I can play my whole career with the Redskins; that's an unbelievable thing."

A third-round draft pick from Utah State in 2004, Cooley has 165 catches for 1,822 yards over three seasons and has yet to miss a game. His rookie contract was due to expire at the end of this season. He and the Redskins have been talking about an extension for months without much progress - until Cooley pressed for a resolution over the last four days.

"I'm very happy that it's not a worry once the season starts," Cooley said. "Even last season, I thought about it a lot. You're thinking about your whole future and your life. Now I can focus on playing football, making the Pro Bowl."

Cooley's production dropped last season as he and the rest of the offense adjusted to the schemes of new assistant coach Al Saunders, but Cooley is now poised to put up the numbers of his career. He looked more comfortable in training camp and has developed into the second option in the passing game behind wideout Santana Moss.

Saunders, a former offensive coordinator with Kansas City, said he plans to use Cooley the same way he used Tony Gonzalez with the Chiefs.

"It's great to get this done and get this out of the way," coach Joe Gibbs said. "He's earned it. He's always been one of our hardest workers."

Cooley took the backdoor route to get his contract talks resolved. He said he started discussing the matter with assistant coaches earlier this week, and they sent the word along the pipeline, through the Redskins hierarchy and all the way up to owner Dan Snyder.

"I really tried to push it from my end to have it over with," Cooley said. "The Redskins made it easy. I think it was understood that I had outplayed my rookie contract."

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