Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Jags, It's Good and Bad; Jacksonville in Decent Short-Term Shape, but Would Be at Long-Term Disadvantage

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Jags, It's Good and Bad; Jacksonville in Decent Short-Term Shape, but Would Be at Long-Term Disadvantage

Article excerpt

Byline: BART HUBBUCH

The ongoing labor crisis that engulfed the NFL on Thursday could have major consequences for the Jaguars, both in the short run and long term.

Still hopeful of a new collective bargaining agreement after talks appeared to break down, the league announced late Thursday that today's scheduled onset of free agency will be delayed until Monday.

Whether or not a new deal is reached, the Jaguars appear in good shape for the time being. They are roughly $10 million to $12 million under the initial $94.5-million salary cap, making them one of only a handful of clubs capable of making a splash when free agency finally starts.

If no deal is reached, leaving the NFL without a cap in 2007 and suddenly flooding this year's market with talent let go for financial reasons, the Jaguars would be in even better short-term shape.

"There would be a lot of attractive players on the market, driving down the price, and we would have the flexibility to pursue them," Jaguars senior vice president Paul Vance said Thursday. "Whether we do that remains to be seen.''

Even with the renewed possibility of a new labor deal, a host of talented players already were cut this week by teams needing to get under the cap.

Even if a deal is reached, maintaining the cap, the Jaguars would benefit in theory because this year's cap would soar over $100 million and leave them with more than $20 million to spend.

Whether the Jaguars would use all of that space is unknown because owner Wayne Weaver has been mostly frugal in free agency the past four years after reporting financial losses in two of those seasons.

"We really have two plans for free agency right now -- one for if there's a deal and one for if there isn't," Vance said. "We'll be ready either way."

Vance spoke from New York, where he accompanied Weaver for a vote by the owners Thursday morning to reject the NFL Players Association's initial demands.

As an owner in the league's second-smallest market, Weaver is leading a push for greater revenue-sharing that continues to receive opposition from large-market owners and is the primary stumbling block in negotiations. …

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