The old names are all but gone. Only Jimmy Smith remains from the Jaguars' inaugural season and the team's Cinderella run to the 1996 AFC title game.
Tony Brackens was released today and the team announced that Mark Brunell will, in fact, be traded to the Washington Redskins tomorrow for the Redskins' third-round draft choice (72nd overall). It was also announced that punter Chris Hanson and defensive end Paul Spicer have agreed to new contracts.
The Brackens and Brunell announcements were foregone conclusions. Had the Jaguars not released Brackens today, they would've owed him a $1 million roster bonus tomorrow, and the team had already informed Brackens they would not make that payment. Brunell delayed a $2 million roster bonus he was due tomorrow to March 10. The purpose of that delay is to allow the Jaguars to trade Brunell to the Washington Redskins without having to pay the roster bonus.
Tomorrow marks the first day of the NFL calendar year, which also signals the start of trading and the free agency period. Brackens will become an unrestricted free agent; Brunell will join the Redskins, with whom Brunell has agreed to a seven-year deal that would pay him $43 million, including an $8.6 million signing bonus.
Hanson would've become a restricted free agent tomorrow had he not signed a new deal with the Jaguars. Spicer was set for unrestricted free agency. Hanson's deal is for $6.5 million over five years and includes a $1.3 million signing bonus.
Brackens' release means the team's salary cap will take on Brackens' $7 million of remaining amortization, but that will also represent a $2.3 million cap savings over Brackens' $9.3 million scheduled hit. Brunell will count $2 million of "dead money" on the Jags' 2004 cap, but his trade to the Redskins will save the Jags $8.5 million on their '04 cap.
Today's announcements will leave the Jaguars about $15 million under the cap heading into tomorrow's action. The Jaguars are expected to be an active participant in free agency.
"The plan is to try to get some help on defense in spots," Jaguars personnel boss "Shack" Harris said. "We're looking to add some depth and competition on offense. We're looking to add some playmakers. We're certainly going to look at the kicking situation."
Cornerback Fernando Bryant is one of six Jaguars players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents tomorrow. That would leave the Jaguars with two positions of need on defense; cornerback and defensive end. Will the Jaguars be able to solve those needs this offseason?
"It's too early to tell right now," Harris said. "Hopefully, we can solve it in one of the two," he added, referring to free agency and the draft.
"The free-agent crop started off looking good, but so many guys have re-signed with their teams, some guys have been 'franchised' and some guys' price is so high that it's not as attractive as we thought it would be," Harris said of this year's free-agent class.
Those Jaguars who will become unrestricted free agents tomorrow are: Bryant, linebacker Danny Clark, offensive linemen Jamar Nesbit, Sammy Williams and Leander Jordan, and long-snapper Joe Zelenka.