Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

The Cap

For all of the talk about “getting it done” last week and how everybody chipped in, things are not all rosy at Jaguars headquarters. Owner Wayne Weaver said all the right things, quarterback Mark Brunell and his agent Leigh Steinberg were both quoted about how they were glad they could help the Jaguars get under the cap, but it all rang hollow.

Weaver didn’t like how the negotiations went and Brunell is sticking to the business side of the football relationship, trying to get as much money as possible, even apparently, at the cost of winning. It all depends on your perspective as to where to place the blame, if there is any. Brunell stuck it to the team by not agreeing to a new deal, but on the other hand, he didn’t put them in their salary cap “circumstance.” Kevin Hardy didn’t agree to an extension, further causing the Jaguars to trim their roster of contributing players.

Weaver, Head Coach Tom Coughlin and capoligist Michael Huyghue were all willing to go, as they say, “outside of the model” for high-priced talent, trying to get to the Super Bowl. “The Super Bowl is a powerful intoxicant,” is how Weaver put it, “but we won’t make those same mistakes again.” When asked this week if the Jaguars would have a different salary cap situation in the future, Weaver uttered a terse, “you bet.”

Since the inception of the salary cap in the early ‘90’s, some teams have fallen into the cap quagmire quicker than others. The 49ers and the Cowboys were loaded with salaries and kept paying, knowing it would cost them in the future. They won championships and now are every day teams, trying to figure out how to get out of their own way.

The cap helps sprinkle talent around the league, and that’s it. Players like John Randle, Marcus Robertson and Leon Searcy are now free-agents, released by teams desperate to get under the salary cap. They’re still productive players, still stars in fact, but the cap makes teams decide which stars they’ll keep and which ones they’ll cut.

Searcy said last week, “I’m important too,” when asked what the Jaguars might do. He’s right. The Jaguars had to decide between an All-Pro type lineman who is a great “locker room guy” and their Pro Bowl quarterback. The quarterback won out in the short term, holding the team hostage with his demands for more money.

When the 49ers recently signed defensive lineman Bryant Young to a long term deal, Bill Walsh said, “this will cost us untold numbers of productive players in the future.” If that’s the attitude around the league, why keep the cap? Certainly the NFL could come up with another way to restrict the movement of some players and give others the freedom to seek their own deals. The NBA created the “Larry Bird rule” allowing teams to keep the stars on their rosters while paying them accordingly, and have enough money left under their cap to put a good team around them.

The NFL, with its higher incidence of injury, needs to look over the cap. If a player is eating up a big percentage of a team’s cap and gets hurt, their season is over. They can’t sign somebody else, they don’t have the money.

Tweak it, massage it, figure out a way players can stay in towns and with teams for their entire careers if they want to. Doesn’t it seem funny with all the different dates and rules that the league created the salary cap, and they immediately started to look for ways to get around it?

John Unitas, Tom Matte, Art Donovan, they’re all Colts. Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris are Steelers.

Dan Marino is a Dolphin.

Will there be any career long Jaguars? Under the current cap structure, I wouldn’t load up on Brunell jerseys in the near future.