Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Retain Brady; Team Must Deal with Unhappy Darius as Free-Agency Period Begins

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Retain Brady; Team Must Deal with Unhappy Darius as Free-Agency Period Begins

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO, The Times-Union

On the eve of the opening of the 2005 free-agency season, the Jaguars kept tight end Kyle Brady off the market Tuesday but were faced with an ultimatum from safety Donovin Darius, who wants to become a free agent even though he has signed the $4.97 million franchise tender offer.

The Jaguars decided to keep Brady, who is due to make a $1.9 million base salary this year, by paying him a $400,000 roster bonus that was due today. Without the bonus, Brady would have become a free agent at midnight Tuesday.

Getting to the free-agent market remains Darius' goal. He was slapped with the franchise tag last week and signed the accompanying tender offer Monday.

Although Darius said he demanded to be traded in a Monday meeting with owner Wayne Weaver and said he no longer wants to play for the team, he's under contract to the Jaguars after signing the franchise tender.

If the Jaguars don't trade him, Darius' only options are to play for the Jaguars or retire and lose almost $5 million this year. Trading him might be difficult: It would require his new team agreeing on compensation with the Jaguars and signing Darius to a long-term deal. The Jaguars have failed for three years to reach an agreement on a long-term deal with Darius.

Paul Vance, the team's senior vice president/football operations, said of Darius' trade request: "We will have to meet and evaluate what's in the best interests of the team."

Despite various Internet reports to the contrary, Vance said they haven't shopped Darius around the league.

With a $4.97 salary cap number, Darius is the second-highest paid Jaguar this year behind Jimmy Smith's $5.6 million. Hugh Douglas is third with $3.6 million in so-called dead money after being released last year.

The Jaguars also decided to keep backup safety Deke Cooper, a restricted free agent, by giving him a middle tender offer of $1.4 million. That means if a team gave Cooper an offer sheet the Jaguars didn't match, the Jaguars would get a first-round pick for him.

Because Cooper wasn't drafted, if he'd been given the lower tender of $656,000, a team wouldn't have had to give up compensation for him if the Jaguars didn't match an offer. …

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