The fans want change. They are disgusted by the Jaguars' performance in the last three games. The daily barrage of e-mails that pour into this reporter's computer suggest an angry mob.
OK, it's not difficult to understand everyone's frustration. Nobody likes to lose. Nonetheless, there has to be a degree of rational thought. Demanding change is easy, but executing change requires a plan and, most of all, patience.
The two main targets of the fans' wrath are Mark Brunell and Fred Taylor. Of course, the quarterback always gets the blame for losing. In Taylor's case, the fans are reacting to the star running back's absence due to his week-two groin injury.
E-mails are running decidedly against Brunell and Taylor. "Get rid of them," the e-mails demand.
All right, let's examine the facts behind that demand.
Brunell would be an $8.25 million hit on the Jaguars' 2002 salary cap. That is not an outrageous number relative to other quarterbacks in the league, but the Jaguars would realize $2.25 million in cap relief if they traded Brunell during the offseason. His remaining amortization following this season will be $6 million, which would accelerate into the 2002 season in the form of "dead money" if Brunell was traded.
Taylor would be a $4.394 hit on the Jags' 2002 cap. He will have $2.5 million in remaining amortization following this season, which is what the Jaguars would have to take on their cap in the form of "dead money" if they traded Taylor during the offseason. In a trade, Taylor would represent less than a $1 million cap savings in 2002.
You could make a point that creating cap room is a good thing for a team with major cap problems. In contrast, Tony Boselli's, Tony Brackens' and Jimmy Smith's remaining amortizations would be greater than their 2002 cap numbers, which means they would each represent a cap loss in a trade.
So, your anger and the cap savings have you convinced: Get rid of Brunell and Taylor.
Please, not so fast. Consider this bit of logic: Why would you cut two players who have sensible contracts, when your salary cap is littered with so many bad deals?
Yeah, the Jaguars are going to have to take a big "dead money" hit on next year's salary cap, but before the team turns its attention to players in the prime of their careers, players who have real value and who are not overpaid relative to the positions they play, the Jaguars must focus on those veterans whose best years are behind them and those players whose contracts are out of line relative to the cap hits of the top players in the league at those positions.
If 2002 is going to signal rebuilding, and the salary cap clearly says it must, the focus must fall on those players who have team-unfriendly deals. There are a significant number of players who have deals that are bad for the team, but Brunell and Taylor are not among them.
Ten current Jaguars players would be greater cap hits than Taylor next season, though the cap hits of two of those players, Kevin Hardy and Renaldo Wynn, include big dummy numbers that will be extinguished when they become unrestricted free agents this winter.
When Hardy's contract is voided just prior to the start of the 2002 league calendar year, Brunell would become the Jaguars' greatest 2002 cap hit, but he wouldn't be significantly higher than Boselli or Brackens.
The Jaguars will not be able to clear their cap by cutting or trading all of their big-money players, because a handful of those players' remaining amortizations will eat up whatever cap room the Jaguars can find. Salary-cap repair will have to be accomplished in stages. It must be an incremental process.
So why start with contracts that were negotiated soundly and favor the team?
Anger and frustration are understandable by-products of losing, but fixing the cap isn't as easy as saying, "Get out." You better make sure you say it to the right guys.