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If only we had a crystal ball


The formulas are many, all the result of exhaustive salary cap research and expertise. Make no mistake, the Jaguars have put great thought and creative planning into fixing their cap problem.

However, what this team really needs is a crystal ball. Clairvoyance is the only sure way of being able to deal with this problem.

It would seem the Jaguars have put their March 2 fate in the hands of quarterback Mark Brunell and his willingness to cooperate on negotiating a new contract that won't "break the bank." The Jaguars still believe Brunell will help keep this team together.

Is that the way to go? Is keeping this team together the right decision? Can it contend for a title, or, for that matter, the playoffs? If only the Jaguars had a crystal ball.

If they did, and if that crystal ball presented a picture of a team in next season's playoffs, then keeping this team together is the way to go. Yes, it would require mortgaging more of this franchise's future, but they've already done that to a major degree, so, taking one more shot would only make sense.

But what if the crystal ball gave us a team beyond its prime? What if next season is to be another year of injuries and a defense that can't hold up in the clutch? Is more of the future of this franchise worth another failed attempt at a Super Bowl dream that may have become a damaging obsession?

It is open to debate. No one can be sure if this team has what it takes. Only by keeping it together and making another try will we know for sure.

Public opinion is running 50-50. Fifty percent of the fans believe the Jaguars should keep the team together and take another swing at the Super Bowl. Fifty percent say the Jaguars missed their chance at the big game and now it's time to start over. Next winter, when the verdict is in, public opinion will be 100 percent that the Jaguars did or didn't do the right thing.

Wayne Weaver and Tom Coughlin don't have the luxury of waiting until next winter. Their decisions have to be made now. A little more than two weeks from now, they'll have to swallow hard and decide, without the aid of a crystal ball.

At this point, all indications are the decision has been made to keep this team together. The Jaguars have verbal agreements from several players to re-structure their contracts and help ease the Jaguars' salary cap figure in 2001. Of course, it would be at the expense of future salary caps.

That must be kept in mind. You don't accumulate a $37 million salary cap debt and not suffer its effects. How would you like to suffer, a lot now and a little bit later, or a little bit now and a lot later? That's the major consideration. Not suffering is not an option.

The Jaguars, it would seem, want to delay the pain, which has always been their modus operandi. The moment the Jaguars reach a contract agreement with Brunell, those re-structuring verbal agreements will be executed on paper, and the future will give way to the present.

Brunell is the key player, and he and his agent, Leigh Steinberg, know as much. He holds the cards. He has all of the leverage. The crystal ball is in his possession.

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