You might call it a “win-win” situation for both teams and Mark Brunell. Brunell agrees to a seven-year contract with the Washington Redskins for $43 million including an $8.6 million bonus. The Jaguars will trade Brunell to the Redskins for a third round pick, as soon as the league allows it to happen on March 3rd.
The deal looks pretty good in both directions, the Redskins’ Head Coach Joe Gibbs gets the veteran quarterback he wants, Brunell gets to go to a team where he’ll start, and the Jaguars get something in return for a lame-duck quarterback they were going to cut anyway. And they save about $10 million in cap money to boot.
It was a pretty good sales job by the Jaguars in the first place. A year ago on draft day, the Jaguars shopped Brunell around the league, knowing they were taking Byron Leftwich with their first round pick. The Jaguars were asking a 6th round pick in return, but found no takers. So they figured a year with both on their roster, Brunell as the teacher, and they’d release him after June 1st. They'd amortize the rest of this contract over the next couple of years and move on.
“But why?” you might ask.
Brunell is young enough to have been part of the Jaguars rebuilding process under Jack Del Rio. In fact, Del Rio apparently wanted Brunell to be his quarterback, but was overruled by Owner Wayne Weaver. Weaver had offered Brunell a contract extension, and by his own admission told Brunell he would authorize the personell department to draft a quarterback in the first round unless Brunell signed the extension. Brunell would have, but the Jaguars didn’t offer a signing bonus, the only guaranteed money Brunell would earn. So Brunell said no, Weaver didn’t like it, and the Jaguars took Leftwich in the first round.
When Brunell injured his elbow, the Jaguars seized the opportunity to put Leftwich into the lineup and Brunell never saw the field again. But the Jaguars were busy talking Brunell up around the league, how he handled the situation perfectly, what great shape he was in, how they’d like to keep him but couldn’t fit him under their cap. So when it came time to start talking about where Brunell might end up after they cut him, the Jaguars leaked that at least four teams were interested. That hastened the Redskins interest after they hired Joe Gibbs.
San Diego, Miami and Dallas were all supposedly interested. But Dallas wasn’t trading any draft picks, Weaver didn’t want Brunell playing right down the road in Miami, and San Diego was thinking about drafting a quarterback with their first round pick anyway. But the thought that there might be a bidding war for Brunell if he was a free-agent put the Redskins on the offensive, with Gibbs coming to St. Augustine to meet with Brunell face-to-face. That’s when the Jaguars upped the ante, and got a third round pick out of a deal where they might have been left with nothing. What they’re going to do in the draft will be dictated by what they can get done in free-agency before that. They’ll look for a free-agent corner first before making any draft-day decisions.