The execution of their offseason salary cap repair plan is complete and the Jaguars have cap room to sign their draft class and add a veteran player or two in June free agency. Those facts became official today when the Jaguars announced the release of wide receiver Keenan McCardell and linebacker Hardy Nickerson.
They are salary cap-motivated moves that will save the Jaguars $6.56 million on their 2002 cap.
McCardell teamed with Jimmy Smith to provide the Jaguars with one of the best pass-catching tandems in NFL history since 1996. Last season, McCardell made 93 pass receptions for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns, making his release an unpopular decision among many fans.
However, the Jaguars faced the most severe salary cap situation in cap history, and the release of McCardell was one of the moves deemed necessary when the team devised its cap-repair plan immediately following the conclusion of last season. His release will save the Jaguars $2.95 million -- McCardell's salary -- this season.
McCardell will count $1.615 million and $2.815 million in "dead money" on the Jaguars' 2002 and 2003 salary caps respectively.
"I'm open to anything right now. I'm a young person," the 32-year-old pass-catcher said earlier this spring, when his June release became apparent. "I feel I can play another 4-5 years."
The release of Nickerson will provide a $3.61 million savings on the Jaguars' '02 cap. That figure is the difference between Nickerson's $4.36 million salary and the $750,000 the team must pay him as the guaranteed portion of that salary. The Jaguars could've delayed releasing Nickerson and, therefore, have delayed paying the $750,000 until they needed the cap room, but the team chose to finalize its decision.
Nickerson will count $2.25 million and $2.9 million in "dead money" on the Jaguars' '02 and '03 salary caps respectively.
The release of McCardell and Nickerson signal the end of an offseason of roster-gutting that has seen the Jaguars restore health to their salary cap faster than anyone could've expected.
"I want to thank Keenan and Hardy for all that they contributed to this team and to this community," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said. "Keenan spent six years with us and was a leader in the record book as well as off the field. Hardy was with us for just two seasons, but his 15 years in the NFL made him a great example to his teammates. Both of these men are a tribute to their profession."
The Jaguars roster is at 90 players.