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Remain true to the objective; salary cap must be repaired


Let's jog our memories a bit. Go back to Jan. 7 of this year; one day after the Jaguars ended their 2001 season with a loss in Chicago.

Tom Coughlin was giving his annual season-ending review to reporters. Primary among the topics was the Jaguars' frightening salary cap situation, which put the team in danger of having to re-structure the contracts of its veterans and pushing the problem even farther into the future.

On that day of Coughlin's season-ender, this football team would've done anything to be in the cap situation it finds itself in currently. On that day, when everything about this franchise seemed to be in doubt, there was this one great certainty on which we could all rest our thoughts: 2002 would be a year dedicated first and foremost to repair of the Jaguars' embarrassing salary cap mess.

Have you forgotten how bad it was? It forced this team to make Tony Boselli available in the expansion draft. Tony Boselli! That's how severe the situation was.

Seven months have passed since this team said goodbye to the 2001 season and began dealing with its future. The Jaguars have truly done a remarkable job of dealing with their cap, and the reason they've been successful is that they have conducted themselves with a singleness of purpose: Fix the cap.

Yeah, it's fixed, but not so completely that this team couldn't slide back into some dangerous ground very quickly. That's where the Jimmy Smith situation comes into play. Forget about all of the peripheral stuff; that he has a contract, and that you can't start sending bad messages, and that he's underpaid or overpaid or whatever your perspective is.

Just consider this: To give Smith more bonus money would be to raise his already whopping remaining amortization (second-highest on the team at $7.57 million) to an excruciatingly dangerous level. The remaining amortizations of Smith and Tony Brackens alone offer frightening "dead money" potential, and Brackens' inability to practice due to his recovery from knee surgery only serves to underscore that "dead money" fear.

This is no time to get moralistic about Smith's holdout. Forget about the emotions of the situation. This is about the Jaguars' salary cap. Everything this year is about the salary cap. No more credit card abuse! You and your wife agreed to it.

Therefore, whatever financial arrangement the Jaguars might pursue with their star wide receiver, the future health and stability of the team's salary cap must be the first and foremost consideration.

Let's make sure we don't forget that. We all agreed this would be a salary cap repair year. Sacrifices have already been made. Let's not betray them.

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