Fans will get a triple treat at practice on Tuesday: The Jaguars will put the pads on for the first time, they'll perform their first-ever "Oklahoma" drill, and first-round draft choice Matt Jones will make his training camp debut.
Jones signed a five-year contract on Tuesday and told the media of his enthusiasm for joining the team for practice, which was moved this afternoon from 7:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. due to a forecast for stormy weather this evening. Monday night was supposed to have produced the Jaguars' first full-pads practice but storms forced its cancellation.
"He wanted to be here," Jaguars salary cap boss and contract negotiator Paul Vance said of Jones, who agreed to a deal late Monday night after a four-day holdout. "It was a tough spot in the draft."
The contract will pay Jones a $1.030 million roster bonus and a salary of $230,000 this year. Jones, the fourth wide receiver selected in the April draft, will receive $5.040 million in guaranteed option bonus over '06 and '07. He'll have an '06 salary of $310,000 and the structure of his contract over the five years is flat.
Overall, the contract is worth $8.450 million; $11.15 million including escalators.
"We believe we've acquired a guy who has playmaking ability. The best way to approach it is to play your way into a role that'll allow the team to win," coach Del Rio said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
"I don't set a lot of goals for myself. I like to set team goals," Jones said. "My goal is to make the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl. If the team wins, everything will be all right."
Final terms did not change significantly over the weekend, but Jones' slot in the draft, 21st overall, made it difficult to pull the trigger on the deal. Dallas' signing of defensive end Marcus Spears at 20 was the catalyst in getting Jones' deal done.
"What did the guy get in that slot the year before and what is the increase going to be?" Vance said of the questions that usually guide teams and agents in negotiating contracts for rookies.
The problem Vance and Jones' agents faced was that the 2004 pick at 21, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, got a six-year deal. That's not the norm. "We were going to do a five-year deal," Vance said.
That meant Wilfork couldn't be used as a starting point. "So we looked below it and it was a quarterback deal (J.P. Losman) that seemed to be a little out of line. That made it difficult to get a starting point," Vance added.
Spears provided the starting point this past weekend, but directly behind Jones is wide receiver Mark Clayton at 22 and there was anxiety that Clayton might do a deal that would exceed Jones'. Clayton remains unsigned but Vance and Jones' agents, Dave Butz and Alan Herman, are obviously comfortable with the numbers in Jones' contract.
"You try to find a middle ground. We talked a lot about the range. When the Spears deal came in, it significantly narrowed what that range would be," Vance said.
So now Jack Del Rio's "house" is in perfect order and just in time to do a little hitting.