It's 10 a.m. on the day for which we've spent the last three months waiting. By close of business today, the Jaguars must make a decision on what to do about Mark Brunell. Expect the news on Mark Brunell to come at mid-afternoon today.
Meanwhile, it's time for a little perspective. Here it is.
The Jaguars have five options available to them. This reporter ranks those options and the likelihood of them happening like this:
- Sign Brunell to a new deal--This is still the best bet because both sides WANT to get this done. The Jaguars want Brunell to remain their quarterback, and Brunell wants to remain in Jacksonville. That's the kind of motivation that gets deals done.
- Trade Brunell--The Jaguars have at least one team, the Kansas City Chiefs, interested in trading for Brunell. As the day advances and the Chiefs' anxiety also increases, they're likely to sweeten the pot. If another team enters the picture, the pot could become too sweet to resist and we could finish the day saying goodbye to Brunell, the identity of the Jaguars franchise for the first six years of its history.
- Extend the deadline--Remember, neither the Jaguars nor Brunell want to part company. That could lead both parties to extend the deadline (the day on which Brunell is due a $2.5 roster bonus). Extending the deadline would allow the Jaguars and Brunell to continue negotiations another couple of weeks, but not past the April 21 NFL draft, for obvious trade-option possibilities.
- Pay the roster bonus--Brunell is due a $2.5 million roster bonus by tomorrow. That stipulation is part of the re-structured contract to which the Jaguars and Brunell agreed on March 1. If the two sides haven't reached another form of agreement by close of business today, Brunell must have a $2.5 million check in his hand or he'd be an unrestricted free agent. The Jaguars won't let that happen. If the two sides aren't able to reach a new contract agreement, and if all of a sudden the trade pot sours, and if Brunell isn't agreeable to extending the deadline, then the Jaguars might be forced to pay the roster bonus. It would give them until the end of next season to negotiate a new deal, and even if they didn't have a deal by then, they could slap Brunell with the "franchise" tag. However, the Jaguars won't gain the salary cap room they need this season until they reach a new contract with Brunell.
- Cut Brunell--It's an option, but it won't happen unless Brunell's left arm falls off between now and four p.m. today, when whatever decision the two sides reach must be reported to the league.
What's the forecast? At 10 a.m., make it 50 percent new contract, 25 percent trade, 20 percent extend deadline and five percent pay roster bonus, with a no-percent chance Brunell will allow his left arm to fall off today.
That forecast is likely to change as the day progresses.