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Source: Jags plan to pay QB


Jacksonville hopes to get quality picks for Brunell.


The Times-Union

The Jaguars consider their chances of trading Mark Brunell so good that they expect to pay the veteran quarterback the $2 million roster bonus due to him next month, a league source said Sunday.

The source, who did not want to be identified because of NFL tampering rules, said the high draft pick -- perhaps even a first-rounder -- that the Jaguars think they can get for Brunell would be worth having to count all $2 million of that bonus against their 2004 salary cap.

The roster bonus comes into play for Brunell and the Jaguars because NFL rules prohibit trades before the start of the league year, which in this case is March 3 -- the same day Brunell is set to receive his bonus.

The Jaguars had intended to release Brunell, 33, before paying him the bonus because their former longtime starter had lost his job to Byron Leftwich and no longer was in the team's plans.

But a league source told the Times-Union on Saturday that the Jaguars' thinking changed recently when Washington, San Diego, Miami and Dallas all approached them about acquiring Brunell in a trade instead of waiting for him to be released.

Conversations with the Redskins have advanced to the point that Washington coach Joe Gibbs will meet with Brunell today at an unspecified location in Florida in hopes of facilitating a deal, a league source said Saturday.

The idea of a possible trade intrigued the QB.

"After I heard the reports of a potential trade, the first thing I thought was, 'That's pretty creative,'" Brunell said Sunday night. "[A trade] never even entered my mind. The opportunity to not let a player get to free agency, it makes sense."

Brunell was flattered that Gibbs, who has coached three Super Bowl championship teams with three different quarterbacks, is among the suitors.

"It makes you feel good to think teams might be willing to give up a high draft pick," Brunell said. "All the teams that have been reported [to be interested in a trade] are in their own way very attractive."

A meeting with Gibbs is important to Brunell because Brunell, who has one year remaining on his contract, will need to work out a new, longer-term deal with whatever team acquires him.

Brunell would be less willing to work out a new deal with a team that can't guarantee him a starting job, so Brunell wants assurances from Gibbs that Brunell would start over Redskins incumbent Patrick Ramsey, the league source said Sunday.

"I didn't take a hard look at Washington, but I'd consider it a privilege to play for Joe Gibbs," Brunell said. "I've heard nothing but good things about him as a person and a coach."

Brunell is scheduled to count $10.5 million against the Jaguars' cap in 2004, although the Jaguars would recoup $6.5 million of that under the cap when they trade or release him. No matter what happens, Brunell will represent $4 million in "dead money" -- cap money that can't be used to sign other players -- next season.

Washington owner Daniel Snyder has offered a second-round pick (41st overall) for Brunell, but the league source said Sunday the Jaguars aren't close to a deal with the Redskins because the Chargers, Dolphins and Cowboys also are open to dealing a second- or third-round choice.

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith tried repeatedly to contact the Jaguars on Sunday to discuss a trade for Brunell after ESPN.com reported Saturday that the Jaguars and Redskins were on the verge of a deal. The Chargers have the 35th pick in the second round, six spots higher than Washington.

The Jaguars' hope is that the intense interest in Brunell from so many teams might even land them an extra pick in the first round. The Jaguars already are set to draft ninth overall based on their 5-11 finish in 2003.

Brunell said he is willing to meet with any teams interested in talking to him, but made it clear that won't happen unless Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver grants permission because the quarterback is still under contract.

"There's too many factors to weigh to pick anyone at this point," Brunell said. "But I'd be willing to sit down with anybody and talk. What better way to find out about a team's philosophy and direction than to sit with a general manager or coach and get a feel for it."


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