Linebacker Kevin Hardy saved the day by agreeing to a contract re-structuring that won't cost the Jaguars any extra money, but will provide $860,000 of salary cap relief this season. That savings is enough to allow the Jaguars to sign first-round draft choice Marcus Stroud, with whom the Jaguars were negotiating as of noon today.
"We were very pleased that Kevin Hardy agreed to a re-structuring that allows the team cap room so we don't have to cut additional players," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver told jaguars.com today.
Hardy's deal was completed just in time for the start of training camp this afternoon, when the full squad is to report for a 4:30 p.m. conditioning drill. The first full day of training camp begins tomorrow morning, and the Jaguars are hopeful of having Stroud under contract and on the field.
Hardy was in the final year of his contract and was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next winter. His re-structured deal adds a voidable year in 2002, which means Hardy will become an unrestricted free agent on the second-to-last day of the 2001 NFL calendar year.
He had refused to re-structure his contract last winter, as the Jaguars neared the March 1 salary cap deadline, however, the re-structured contract to which he agreed Thursday is the crowning jewel of a five-month effort by the Jaguars to correct a $37 million salary cap problem.
In exchange for the voidable year, the Jaguars converted $1.7 million of Hardy's $2.39 million salary this year to signing bonus. That conversion allows the Jaguars to move $860,000 of amortization onto their 2002 salary cap, though Hardy may be with another team next season. The $860,000 savings is just about what the Jaguars need to fit Stroud's expected contract under the team's 2001 salary cap.
"We're still very tight, but this deal gets us through training camp and solves our 53-man roster issue. Sometimes when you're patient and don't overreact, you get things done over a period of time," Weaver said.
Weaver remained hopeful the Jaguars will get Stroud under contract in time to participate in today's conditioning drill. Stroud was reportedly at Alltel Stadium today.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.