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Boselli toughest decision in franchise history


The following is the transcript of Wednesday's question and answer session between Vic Ketchman and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver.

Vic: What went into the decision to make Tony Boselli available to the Houston Texans in the expansion draft?

Wayne: Vic, clearly that's the toughest decision we have ever had to make for this franchise, but you have to look back over the last couple of seasons. After coming off of a 14-2 season in 1999, we're a 7-9 football team and a 6-10 football team and our salary cap is just totally out of control. We had to make some very difficult and tough decisions and we had to analyze our best chances of getting under the cap and solving our salary cap problems. We couldn't do that unless we took some of our highest paid players and our best players and put them in the draft and that's what we've done. Tony Boselli is a warrior. He has been the cornerstone of our franchise and you never want to get put in a position to have to make those types of decisions. We chased the Super Bowl so hard back in '98 and '99, we made some decisions that have now come home to roost and we have to deal with that.

Vic: You just used the words "out of control" to describe your salary cap situation. Do you think the fans have come to understand how severe it is and, if they haven't, can you give them an indication of what you're up against?

Wayne: My only explanation has always been that chasing the Super Bowl is a powerful intoxicant. We were so close we felt we were the best football team in '98 and '99 and we just didn't get there. But we made some decisions. We've been the highest-spending football team in the NFL in the seven years of this franchise -- cash over cap or total cash spending -- and when you do that you know at some point it comes homes to roost. We're at that point. We have to make some decisions that are painful. I've been consistent in saying that.

Vic: Is the Boselli thing a signal to us that salary-cap repair is this team's number one priority?

Wayne: It has to be our number one priority. You can't have a 7-9 season, a 6-10 season and continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. So we had to make some tough decisions and we have to move forward and we have to solve our salary cap problems.

Vic: To what lengths will this team have to go to fix its cap?

Wayne: Well, it all depends on how this expansion draft comes out. If the Houston Texans take a couple of our high-priced players, then that will go a long way because that amortization travels. And that will go a long way in helping us solve our cap.

Vic: If they take Boselli, your cap would have instant manageability?

Wayne: Well, certainly, if they take Tony and obviously Kevin Hardy is out as a free agent, so that's almost $20 million of our $23 million cap (excess).

Vic: And Reynaldo Wynn is in the same position?

Wayne: Exactly.

Vic: I'm going to get a little long-winded with this, but like everybody else I've tried to figure out the strategy in the Boselli decision and I've decided you needed to put a high-amortization player on that list who you know the Texans will draft, which will then allow you the flexibility to get under the cap on March 1 and retain players with whom you might recoup value in a trade. Am I right or wrong?

Wayne: You're right. We had to try to speculate on which of our high-amortization players would they be interested in. We did a lot of analysis and homework and it became very obvious to us we had very little choice in terms of who they would have the most interest in. Obviously they're going to have the most interest in your best player. Tony Boselli is certainly that.

Vic: Trading star players for high draft choices; nothing wrong with that, right?

Wayne: It's been done. People do it all the time. Clearly, we just had a salary cap issue in which we pushed the envelope as far as we could push it. Now we've got to deal with it.

Vic: You had mentioned in one of these Q&A sessions between us this past season that you thought Pittsburgh had done the best job of managing its salary cap. Are you going to use the Steelers as a model for what you're going to do?

Wayne: Clearly, I admire what Pittsburgh has done. They have consistently let key players go and have young players step up and fill a void, and they've been very competitive. They had a couple of losing seasons, but were 13-3 season this year and it looks like the team from the AFC that has the best chance of going to the Super Bowl. So, I certainly admire what they have done. But there are other models. We've studied every team that's had salary cap problems and how they've worked through it. San Francisco is probably another example. They got very lucky with a couple of their picks; with their quarterback, who was not a huge salary cap hit over the past couple of years, and with some draft choices. They had more young players; I think this year of their 45-man roster they had 30 players who had three years or less accrued seasons. So, we're studying every model. I think Pittsburgh is one of the better models to look at.

Vic: More than likely, a year from now we won't be talking about the things we're talking about now?

Wayne: Well, we won't be still talking about (the salary cap). We'll be talking about how we get back to being the most competitive football team. I think we'll be able to do that very quickly.

Vic: What message do you want to deliver to your team's fans, who are shocked by the news of the last 24 hours?

Wayne: Well, it's been a hard few weeks looking at all these things and finally coming to the realization that if we don't address this salary cap problem, all we're going to do is continue to push the problem into the future and have the same result we have had in the past. So, I say to the fans, we're working hard to solve these problems. There's a chance we might not lose (Tony). There's a chance the Texans might not take him and we would certainly welcome Tony back, but we have to deal with our salary cap. We have to solve that problem. It's tough when you have to face those issues. But it's my responsibility to make sure we are doing the right thing now, and that is solving the salary cap problems.

Vic: You had used the word "difficult" when I asked you to describe what was going to happen here this winter, as far as the salary cap is concerned and personnel decisions. You said the word was "difficult." Might the word for the future be patience?

Wayne: I think patience is a good word because difficult doesn't even in any measure describe the decision of having to put Tony Boselli in an expansion pool.

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