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Garrard signs new deal


A funny thing happened to David Garrard on the way to being traded: He signed a long-term contract.

That's right, instead of spending this weekend wondering if he might be traded, Garrard will enjoy the warm and fuzzy feeling that accompanies a three-year contract extension and a $2 million signing bonus. Garrard, who was ticketed for free agency next winter and a chance to become a starting NFL quarterback, now entertains thoughts of continuing a career as Byron Leftwich's backup.

"I definitely have a spiritual side to me. Jacksonville tells me how much they love me. If that's my calling, to be here as a backup my entire career, well, it's not a bad thing. It's not what I want, but a lot of times it's not about what I want," Garrard said.

Garrard had received permission from the Jaguars to work a trade and Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Green Bay, Miami, San Francisco and Tampa all expressed interest. In each case, however, they withdrew their interest when they were told the Jaguars wouldn't settle for less than a first-round pick in exchange.

"There was a little talk about the Crohn's (Disease), but the main thing was the first-round draft pick Jacksonville wanted," said Garrard. "We'll wait a year," he added of the standard response.

The new contract, though it would seem to be an act of surrender on Garrard's part, shouldn't discourage interest in Garrard and, in fact, could actually stimulate a trade.

"Now they know what I'm worth. We know what he's being paid; we know what he's worth," Garrard said.

A team that might've been willing to sign Garrard in free agency next spring may now acquire Garrard for the relatively modest salaries of $1 million in 2006, $1 million in '07 and $1.25 million in '08. The contract extension he signed with the Jaguars is in line with what veteran backup quarterbacks are paid. Garrard will earn $455,000 in salary this season, the final year of his original four-year contract. He will count $1.061 million against the Jaguars salary cap this year.

The new contract works for both sides:

• The Jaguars retain an accomplished backup quarterback and, just as importantly, his trade rights.

• Garrard is rewarded with a handsome bonus, the amortization of which will remain with the Jaguars should Garrard be traded. That fact should also serve to attract a trade.

Last season produced two starting opportunities for Garrard. He completed 19 of 36 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and an 87.5 passer rating in the Jaguars' 23-17 win over the Lions. Garrard threw the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime. A week later, however, Garrard threw for a mere 129 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a 46.7 passer rating in an 18-15 loss to the Titans.

"I can just go out and play. I don't have to worry about this stuff," Garrard said of the contract extension, which will ease any concerns Garrard might've had about his future in the NFL.

Garrard was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in March of 2004. Initial treatment was unsuccessful and Garrard underwent surgery in June. He recovered quickly, was a full participant in training camp and Crohn's was never an issue again.

"It's perfectly fine," Garrard said.

Crohn's causes inflammation of the large intestine. It is an incurable but manageable disease.

Garrard starred collegiately at East Carolina and was selected by the Jaguars in the fourth round of the 2002 draft. His first pro start was in the final game of his rookie season. He saw limited action with no starts in 2003.

In other Jaguars news, linebacker Akin Ayodele signed the team's one-year tender offer on Wednesday, after failing to receive an offer from another team in restricted free agency. Ayodele will earn $656,000 this season.

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