Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver was relieved to know his team will be under the NFL's $67.4 million salary cap this Friday, but, more importantly, Weaver was confident the Jaguars can complete a new contract with quarterback Mark Brunell before the cap deadline.
"At least we know we are going to be under the cap, with Mark, so that's behind us. Having said that, I'm still optimistic we can get a deal done with Mark in the next 24 hours," Weaver told jaguars.com this morning.
All NFL teams must submit their rosters and players contracts by four p.m. tomorrow, March 1. The league will review all information to verify that its teams are under the salary cap limit, which they must by the start of business Friday morning.
The Jaguars still have several million dollars to pare from their cap, but the numbers will fall quickly as players sign the re-structured contracts to which they have verbally agreed. Also, the Jaguars may release more players to ease the team's cap burden. Yesterday, five players were cut: Joel Smeenge, Quentin Neujahr, Reggie Barlow, Rayna Stewart and Joe Chustz. The Jaguars also announced they would not make a tender offer to reserve fullback Jermaine Williams.
Weaver is pleased by what his team has done to retain its core players and spread the money out over future caps in such a way that he believes the future of the franchise is not compromised. Brunell has been at the heart of the cap issue since the end of the 2000 season, but Weaver says a new deal with Brunell is not a cap matter any longer.
"The issue is not Mark's cap savings. The issue is getting a deal done that's fair to both sides," Weaver said.
Weaver has been firm all winter in his stance on Brunell, that the Jaguars would either retain him as their quarterback or retain his rights. The Jaguars could've saved $7 million by cutting Brunell, but "that was never an option," Weaver said.
"I've been honest all along as to what Mark Brunell means to the franchise. Mark is the guy who's going to take this team to the Super Bowl, if we're going to get there. Does this mean we're going to do a deal that jeopardizes the future of the franchise? Absolutely not. We believe our interests and Mark's interests are really aligned," Weaver added.