The final piece of the Jaguars puzzle was put into place this afternoon when the team signed first-round draft choice Marcus Stroud to a five-year contract worth $8.4 million. Stroud, the defensive tackle from Georgia, and the remainder of the Jaguars' 91-man roster was to be on the field at 4:30 this afternoon for the traditional conditioning drill that opens each training camp.
Signing Stroud was made possible by veteran linebacker Kevin Hardy, who agreed to a contract re-structuring that won't cost the Jaguars any extra money, but will provide $860,000 of salary cap relief this season. That savings allowed the Jaguars to fit Stroud under the cap.
"I applaud Kevin's team spirit. It allowed us to finalize our roster and get Marcus Stroud in," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver told jaguars.com today.
Hardy was in the final year of his contract and was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next winter. His re-structured deal adds a voidable year in 2002, which means Hardy will become an unrestricted free agent on the second-to-last day of the 2001 NFL calendar year.
He had refused to re-structure his contract last winter, as the Jaguars neared the March 1 salary cap deadline, however, the re-structured contract to which he agreed Thursday is the crowning jewel of a five-month effort by the Jaguars to correct a $37 million salary cap problem.
In exchange for the voidable year, the Jaguars converted $1.7 million of Hardy's $2.39 million salary this year to signing bonus. That conversion allows the Jaguars to move $860,000 of amortization onto their 2002 salary cap, though Hardy may be with another team next season.
Stroud, the 13th pick of this past April's NFL draft, got a $2 million signing bonus. He'll count $1.264 million against the Jaguars' salary cap this season.
"We're still very tight, but (these deals) get us through training camp and solve our 53-man roster issue," Weaver said. "Sometimes when you're patient and don't overreact, you get things done over a period of time," he added of the Hardy re-structuring.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.