Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marts Plans Return to Jags Veteran Willing to Restructure Contract to Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marts Plans Return to Jags Veteran Willing to Restructure Contract to Help

Article excerpt

Speculation surrounding Lonnie Marts' departure from the Jaguars is just that, he said -- speculation. He also said it's premature.

The veteran linebacker, a candidate to be released as the team tries to solve its salary cap problems, said yesterday he plans to return to the Jaguars next season, and that he is willing to restructure his contract to help toward that end.

The Jaguars are an estimated $36 million over the NFL's projected 2001 cap figure of $68 million. They must be under the cap by 4 p.m. March 2. Marts, originally signed by the Jaguars as a free agent in August of 1999, said yesterday he doesn't believe his contract is so cumbersome as to force his departure.

"When we did my contract, we knew they were going to be strapped for money and we wanted to be cap friendly," Marts said.

Jaguars Senior Vice President Michael Huyghue said the team had no public stance on Marts' situation. Marts last February signed a four-year, $10.043 million extension with a $2 million signing bonus. He counts $1.5 million against next season's cap, but by a basic restructuring -- replacing base salary with signing bonus -- the team could reduce his figure to $1.156 million.

His contract works against him being released before March 2. If released before then, he counts $1.5 million against the cap next season, meaning the team gets no relief. But he can be released under his current deal after June 1 and count $750,000 toward the 2001 cap and $750,000 in 2002.

"If they release me, I would play somewhere else," Marts said. "I think they would like to keep me here, or they wouldn't have done the deal last year. That's the reason we did it the way we did it."

Marts started 16 games in 1999, 14 in the middle. He moved to the strong side last season, but missed nine games and 13 starts with a groin injury. …

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