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Jaguars change their ways


Something new and exciting happened yesterday afternoon: The Jaguars said no. Previously, they almost certainly would've said yes.

They had spent a winter attempting to close the deal on a new contract with quarterback Mark Brunell. As yesterday's four p.m. salary cap deadline approached, almost everyone expected a long-term deal with Brunell would be done. After all, Brunell was clearly expressing that Jacksonville was where he wanted to stay and, of course, these were the Jaguars, who had developed one of the league's most glorious reputations for overpaying their players.

Then, it all changed. Maybe it changed forever, the moment Wayne Weaver said, "No."

It probably wasn't that dramatic, but the point is that with the two sides trying to close the gap, Weaver trusted his instincts, bowed his neck and decided he would not steer his franchise back into the same storm that had just caused it a week of hell and embarrassment. Weaver refused to agree to a contract his gut told him would damage the future of the Jaguars franchise.

More negotiations would be required. This was not a time to make it easy. The easy way is what got this team into this mess.

Remember all of those years when the team proudly announced it had signed its entire draft class, and it was early June, a month-and-a-half before the start of training camp? One year, the only other drafted player signed by another team was a guy the Cardinals had to sign because he was about to begin a jail sentence.

What were all of the other teams in the league doing? Hard-balling, that's what. They were trying to save as much money as they could. The Jaguars should've been doing the same.

Now, Weaver will agree. He'll point to figures of players who turned down Jaguars offers to test the free-agent market, then found the offer they rejected was almost twice what they got from other teams. Bryan Schwartz found that out. So did Pete Mitchell and Chris Hudson.

All of this may be changing. In the 11th hour of negotiations with Brunell and with the Jaguars' back to the salary cap wall, Weaver said no. It would indicate a new resolve; a new modus operandi.

Maybe they learned their lesson. This is professional football. It's a business.

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