Keenan McCardell thanked fans for their support, but said he doesn't expect to remain with the Jaguars in 2002 and has turned his attention to finding a new team.
"You got great fans in Jacksonville who know football. They know what I've done. I can't do anything but love the fans. I give them the utmost respect because they give me the utmost respect," McCardell said in response to a scene at Thursday evening's Fan Forum at Alltel Stadium.
At the event, a fan asked Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver if it was possible to work a new deal with McCardell that would keep the popular wide receiver in Jacksonville. Expectations are McCardell will be released by the team after June 1, a salary cap move that will save the team about $3 million on their 2002 salary cap.
When the fan described McCardell as "the heart and soul of the team," the rest of the audience stood and cheered. Weaver said, "We're trying to work through all of this," but McCardell told jaguars.com today there's no chance he'll be back with the Jaguars.
Why? Because McCardell won't agree to the significant paycut required to help ease the Jaguars' cap constraints, and because the Jaguars had already made an ironclad decision to move in another direction.
"No chance of (contract) re-structuring. That's what they told me," McCardell said.
Agree to a paycut? "Has my play diminished? McCardell asked rhetorically.
Coach Tom Coughlin informed McCardell in Feb. of the team's intention to release him in June. "They gave me a release to talk about a trade, but that's not going to happen because all of the amortization would go on the (Jaguars') cap," McCardell said.
"I appreciate all of the support the fans gave me, but there's nothing that's going to happen. You let Boselli go. He's more popular. I believe they're resigned to start over," McCardell added.
McCardell caught 93 passes for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns last season, as he and Jimmy Smith combined for the best year of their six seasons together. "It's not good enough for them so it's time to move on," McCardell said.
"They said they're going in a different direction. From what I understand, they think I'm too slow. I'll just continue to catch a lot of balls," he added.
Some expect McCardell to sign with his hometown Houston Texans following his June release, but McCardell said he won't close the door on any team.
"I'm open to anything right now. I'm a young person," the 32-year-old pass-catcher said. "I feel I can play another 4-5 years."