Jaguars salary cap boss and lead negotiator Paul Vance was satisfied this morning that he had achieved the Jaguars' primary goal in negotiating a contract with first-round draft choice Byron Leftwich.
"The key we had from the beginning was we wanted to do a deal that was fair to Byron and responsible for the team," Vance told jaguars.com this morning, following the announcement that Leftwich had signed a contract and ended his holdout at 19 days last night.
Leftwich, the seventh pick of the draft, agreed to a seven-year deal that allows Leftwich the opportunity to void the contract after the fifth year. Leftwich received a $10.9 million signing bonus, which is about $500,000 less than the sixth pick of the draft, Georgia defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan, received from New Orleans. Leftwich will be a $1.73 million hit on the Jaguars' 2003 salary cap.
Quarterback Carson Palmer, the first overall pick of the draft, got a $14 million signing bonus. It was believed Leftwich was seeking the same kind of deal, but that wasn't the major stumbling block in negotiations. What slowed negotiations was the lack of a significant precedent at the seventh slot, where no quarterback had previously been selected during the salary cap era (since 1993). Giants quarterback Kerry Collins is the only quarterback during that period to have been selected between the third and 11th picks.
"It's a deal for a quarterback at the seventh spot. Quarterback deals are very complicated. Bringing all of the terms together when you don't have a precedent leads to a lot of discussion," Vance said.
Ultimately, Leftwich's holdout was the difference. As time passed, both sides grew anxious. The Jaguars needed the signature player of their new era in training camp, and Leftwich needed to be there to have any chance of playing this season.
"He wanted to play; we wanted to have him here," Vance said.
Jaguars.com will update this story following practice this morning.