Imagine this conversation at the Jaguars offices:
Wayne Weaver: “Alright, who are we putting on the expansion draft list?”
Rick Reprish (Personnel Director): “It needs to be somebody who’s actually taken off our hands. Somebody who can play.”
Paul Vance (new capologist): “It needs to be somebody who clears a lot of cap room for us.”
Tom Coughlin: “Okay, I guess it’s Boselli!”
You hope it wasn’t that simple, but the decision itself screams simplemindedness.
Actually, there are two scenarios that could be playing themselves out. The first is what Jaguars fans originally thought: The team put Boselli on the expansion draft list as one of several high priced players knowing Boselli wouldn’t be picked. After the Texans take one of the other inflated salaries off their hands, i.e. Tony Brackens, the Jaguars recall Boselli from the list. That way they have him back and they were able to protect another player on the roster from the expansion.
But as more information is leaking out, it’s clear the scenario where the team is willing to risk losing Boselli as a cap casualty seems to be closer to reality. He’ll save them $6 million or so next year, moving them a long way toward getting out of the salary cap jail they’ve put themselves in.
From the team’s standpoint, Boselli is a number and left-tackles don’t win Super Bowls. He missed almost all of last year, hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy for about three seasons and his future effectiveness could be in question. But he is the team leader; one of the best locker room guys, a real tough performer, their first ever draft pick and the player Tom Coughlin called the “cornerstone” of the franchise. So if you remove the cornerstone, doesn’t the entire thing it’s built on collapse?
It already seems to be crumbling as Quarterback Mark Brunell said putting Boselli on the list was “ridiculous.” Coughlin wouldn’t comment when reached at the Senior Bowl in Mobile (the league has asked clubs to refrain from comment or making the list public until 1pm Friday), although Boselli’s agent said he thought the Jaguars Head Coach wasn’t happy about the move and it was “eating him up.”
So does that mean it wasn’t Coughlin’s call? There have been many rumblings about Weaver wanting a bigger hand in personnel. He reportedly also wants a General Manager to take over some of Coughlin’s duties off the field. Is this the pre-cursor to that? Certainly there are other ways they can get out from under their cap problems. Perhaps not as fast, but with some grace and panache, something the team has had a shortage of in the past as well.
Brunell agreed to less money in his new contract just last year, saying he wanted to stay a Jaguar, and playing with Boselli, his best friend seemed to be a factor. With Boselli potentially gone, it seems to signal that Brunell could be next. Several teams, most notably the Detroit Lions were interested in Brunell last year, with the Lions restating their interest in recent months. Steve Spurrier is familiar with Brunell and would no doubt love him as the Redskins quarterback. And what about Houston? If Boselli ends up there, could the Texans put together a parcel of draft picks that would entice the Jaguars to trade Brunell to Houston? Dom Capers is a long time admirer of Brunell, and the feeling is mutual.
Two other things come to mind.
First, isn’t this all a year too late? Couldn’t they have made some of these cuts (including Brunell) before this year and already be on the road to recovery? By delaying the pain for a season, the self-inflicted wounds will be much deeper.
Could the Jaguars make two more fan un-friendly decisions than to not pursue Spurrier and then attempt to get rid of arguably their best and most beloved player?
Second, would Capers want to help the Jaguars out of their cap hole, knowing he has to play them twice a year as a division opponent? Capers will have to weigh the Jaguars potential future success against his own team’s benefit from Tony Boselli and possibly Mark Brunell on the roster.
Accepting that the Jaguars were going to be a different team next year was already part of any Jaguars fans reality. A reality without some of the established veteran stars is something fans understand. But a reality without Boselli seems to break the trust the fans have in the management of the team. Internet chat rooms and sports talk radio can be full of the complaints about Weaver, Coughlin and everything else. The real opinions will be heard when attendance figures are announced next season.