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Despite Injury, Church Gets 4-Year Contract Extension Thru 2016

IRVING, Texas– With a season-ending Achilles injury that occurred more than a month ago, it might be easy to forget about safety Barry Church these days.

The Cowboys made it clear Friday they haven't. In fact, they made sure he stays on the forefront for a few years to come as they've decided to give him a four-year contract extension that will keep him in the fold through the 2016 season.

The contract is worth about $9 million, including $2.5 million in signing bonus with an overall $3.8 in guaranteed money.

Church, who is on injured reserve after suffering the injury in the Tampa Bay game on Sept. 23, is in the final season of his original three-year contract he signed as an undrafted rookie in 2010. Church would've been a restricted free agent after the season and with his injury, it would've been an interesting dilemma for the Cowboys.

On restricted free agents, clubs have four different options of tenders to place on the player, including the original draft tender, which in Church's case, would not give the Cowboys draft-pick compensation if he signed with another team.  Other restricted options give the teams a second-round pick compensation, a first-rounder, and then a first and third-round pick.

Throw in Church recovering from a tough injury such as a ruptured Achilles, which is arguably considered one of the hardest to recover from, and it would've made for an interesting decision for the Cowboys.

But they avoided all of that by this extension.

This is the second time in the last year the Cowboys have avoided restricted free agency by simply buying out both the restricted and unrestricted seasons on a contract. The club did a similar move with offensive tackle Jermey Parnell last April before the draft. Parnell was expected to be restricted after this season and now has two years remaining on his deal.

The difference with Church is they added two more  years to the deal, suggesting they figure he can return to form and play alongside safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who said Friday he is excited about the move.

"It's congratulations to Barry," Sensabaugh said. "It's well earned. I'm glad to see him get it. We were talking about it. They've been back and forth for a little bit now. If they get comfortable with it, go ahead and get it knocked out and be a Cowboy for a long time. It's good to see him get that done. He knows the system. He's a heck of a player."

The Cowboys have been hampered by injuries at safety this year, with rookie Matt Johnson suffering three different hamstring injuries since training camp. Danny McCray has been elevated to a starter and the Cowboys have signed veterans Eric Frampton and recently Charlie Peprah.

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