The NFL announced on Thursday afternoon that free agency will begin at 12:01 a.m on Saturday, March 11. Free agency was to begin on Friday but was delayed as the logistics of the Collective Bargaining Agreement the league reached with the players union on Wednesday night required more time to assemble.
"It's about getting the details done," Jaguars salary cap boss Paul Vance said.
The delay, the third in a week, will allow Jaguars personnel boss James Harris and head coach Jack Del Rio more time to target free agents the team will attempt to sign. In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, owner Wayne Weaver commented on free agency and the impact the new CBA and revenue-sharing agreement will have on the Jaguars franchise.
"Our first priority is to keep our own players intact. Our people have been targeting free agents. We're going to see how that plays out when free agency opens," Weaver said.
Weaver wore a smile as he provided details to reporters about the CBA and the revenue-sharing plan.
"It's a big win for our fans, the clubs and the players," Weaver said. "It's a rich deal. It's going to raise the player costs for all the clubs. Now we can focus on building our roster and competing."
The Jaguars believe the new revenue-sharing agreement the owners reached on Wednesday will ensure every team, no matter where it stands on the revenue ladder, will be able to compete, thanks to an incremental revenue-sharing strategy. It's a plan that will limit all teams' player costs (salary cap spending) to 65 percent of each team's total gross revenue. Any team that spends above the 65 percent level will receive a rebate from the league for what that team spent over that level.
Weaver had favored a 34 percent sharing of local revenue, but it had become a hurdle the league's owners could not clear. The incremental revenue-sharing idea is viewed as an adequate replacement for Weaver's local revenue-sharing concept.
"In terms of money shifting, it's probably not a lot below that (34 percent) model. It caps the bottom half of the league that their costs won't exceed 65 percent of their gross," Weaver said.
What Weaver likes best about the 65 percent strategy is that it prevents high-revenue teams from passing their player costs on to low-revenue teams. "I don't like to call it revenue-sharing. I like to call it cost-sharing," Weaver said.
The labor agreement, however, was probably a little more difficult to swallow. "It puts more pressure – because it's a rich deal – on Jacksonville and other small markets (to generate revenue)," Weaver said.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced last night that each team's salary cap figure will be $102 million in 2006, an increase of $17 million over each team's 2005 salary cap.