Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Could Have Edge If Cowboys Cut Deion

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Could Have Edge If Cowboys Cut Deion

Article excerpt

An interesting plot could be developing with Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders that is sure to intrigue the Jacksonville Jaguars front office. Until Sanders injured his big toe last November against Arizona, the Cowboys were moving toward extending his contract, which is set to expire after the 1999 season, and keeping him in Dallas the rest of his career.

Now, with Sanders recovering from toe surgery and his readiness for the season opener uncertain, Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones has been mum on an extension. That has fueled speculation that Dallas might release Sanders on June 1 to clear $3.2 million in salary cap room.

If that happens, a lot of NFL teams figure to be seeking out medical opinions and studying payroll deduction plans. Sanders, 31, is regarded as the best cover corner in the NFL. And even at 80-90 percent healthy, he's still better than most anybody at his position.

The question is: should the Jaguars pursue an expensive free agent in Sanders even though they drafted cornerback Fernando Bryant in the first round?

Answer: they'd be foolish not to strongly consider it.

Forget about whatever scheme defensive coordinator Dom Capers will put on the field or whether Sanders can mesh with a regimented coach like Tom Coughlin. What is safe to assume is that Sanders and the Jaguars both want to win a Super Bowl. With Deion in teal and black -- providing he returns to reasonable health -- the Jaguars' defense gets a significant upgrade at a position where they sorely need one.

Jacksonville has a bunch of iffy cornerbacks and nobody can be certain how good Bryant is after watching second-round pick Cordell Taylor struggle so much in his rookie season. Sanders would likely prefer to remain a Cowboy, but the NFL is, above all else, a business. Should the league's best cornerback be put out on the open market, the Jaguars have got to at least window-shop. And if it's feasible, maybe buy a big piece of that Super Bowl puzzle. . . .

Hugh Durham and his Jacksonville University basketball team leave today for a two-week hoops excursion in Australia with two openings left on next season's schedule. The University of North Florida, now coached by former JU boss Matt Kilcullen, wants to play the Dolphins. But JU remains non-committal, even though it played two non-Division I teams last season. Unless the Trans America Athletic Conference puts in a rule that prohibits teams from playing non-Division I schools, JU might as well play UNF just to see if this game can draw a decent crowd. JU has played UNF in baseball for 11 years and it has been good for both programs. It's time for JU-UNF to get it on in hoops. . . .

Maybe that slick Nike commercial featuring Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine trying to become Mark McGwire ("chicks dig the long ball") hasn't given them the big head. …

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