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The Jacksonville Jaguars have designated defensive end Tony Brackens as a franchise player. NFL clubs can designate one franchise player per year, and Brackens is the first franchise player ever tagged by the Jaguars. The salary offer by the Jaguars is a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of NFL defensive ends last season, and as a "non-exclusive" franchise player, Brackens can negotiate with other teams. Exact terms of the offer to Brackens are not disclosed. If Brackens signs an offer sheet with another team, the Jaguars can match the offer or receive two first-round draft choices as compensation.

The Jaguars have also re-signed defensive tackle Seth Payne and agreed to terms on new contracts with cornerback Aaron Beasley and guard Zach Wiegert. They also restructured the contracts of 11 players: quarterback Mark Brunell, offensive tackles Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy, wide receivers Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell and Reggie Barlow; tight end Kyle Brady, center Quentin Neujahr, defensive tackle Gary Walker, linebacker Bryce Paup and safety Carnell Lake.

Payne, a 1997 Jaguars draft choice, started 14 of 16 games played in 1999, as well as both postseason contests. He made 60 tackles (40 solo) and 1.5 sacks. He would have been a restricted free agent. Beasley, who would have become an unrestricted free agent, is a four-year veteran who set a team record with six interceptions - sixth in the NFL - two of them returned for touchdowns. The team's all-time interception leader, he made 67 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 1999. Wiegert played in all 16 games in 1999, starting 12 times at right guard, and he also started both playoff games. A five-year veteran who played with the Rams from 1995 to '98, he helped the Jaguars lead the NFL in rushing for the first time.

The free agency period runs from midnight tonight through April 14 for restricted free agents and through July 15 for unrestricted free agents. The Jaguars have 14 unrestricted free agents and four restricted free agents.

Jaguars unrestricted free agents are: G/OT Ben Coleman, DE Eric Curry, QB Jay Fiedler, TE Rich Griffith, OT Steve Ingram, MLB Lonnie Marts, MLB Tom McManus, OT Joe Patton, MLB Bryan Schwartz, RB James Stewart, S Rayna Stewart, CB Dave Thomas, G Rich Tylski and DE Regan Upshaw. They are free to sign with any club, with no compensation owed to the Jaguars, through July 15. On July 16, all rights revert back to the Jaguars if the club makes a tender offer (110 percent of last year's salary) by June 1.

Jaguars restricted free agents are: G Todd Fordham, TE Damon Jones, S Mike Logan and FB Daimon Shelton. They have been tendered qualifying offers by the Jaguars but can negotiate with any team through April 10. If any player receives an offer sheet from a new team, the Jaguars can match the offer and retain the player through the right of first refusal. If the Jaguars do not match the offer, they can possibly receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of the qualifying offer.

The maximum salary cap for 2000 is $62,172,000 per club, and the minimum cap is $51,561,000. Player benefits are $9,387,000 per club above the salary cap number.


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