New England's 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 yesterday 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 extension 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.

CARDINALS: Offensive lineman Ernest Dye will undergo surgery Sunday to repair nerves damaged in a car accident that nearly severed his arm. Doctors feel confident that Dye's arm will remain viable. The doctors felt it is time to repair the nerve damage he suffered in Monday's accident south of Flagstaff, Ariz.

BENGALS: Kick returner-defensive back Tremain Mack, who has had a series of alcohol-abuse arrests, will miss the first four games of the season under a suspension announced by the league.