With the NCAA Basketball Tournament now in full swing, it was appropriate for the Jaguars' Jeremy Mincey to label his re-signing with the Jaguars a "game-winning shot."
That's what the Jaguars' defensive end called his last-minute decision to stick with the Jaguars instead of accepting an offer to join the Chicago Bears. And for that game-winning shot? Credit it to Jaguars general manager Gene Smith.
"Gene, man. He really wanted me here and that was the bottom line," Mincey said hours after he signed his four-year contract. "He really wanted me here, you could hear the sincerity in his voice.
"For him to reach out and outbid Chicago in a situation they could have easily let me go and grab a few guys from the free-agent market, but he didn't. He chose to keep me here and that speaks volumes. I'm just glad that he chose to make that decision. That's what grabbed me, pulled me in and won me over."
Mincey later said that he was within five minutes of accepting the offer from the Bears when Smith made his final plea. In the end, it didn't come down to a matter of who was willing to pay the most.
"At first it was a battle between Chicago (and Jacksonville), a bidding war basically between (the two teams)," he said. "I am a loyal man and I don't just play the game for money. I play the game to win and inspire people to be the best at whatever they do in life.
"The business is about money. I'm not about money. Both ends were happy with the deal and it was an offer I couldn't refuse. Plus, for my home team, I'm back here in Jacksonville with the greatest fans in the NFL and with an up and coming team. I just want to be a part of something special."
The Jaguars want something special too and they knew that Mincey was a big part of why the defense was so improved a year ago. The fifth-year pro enjoyed his best season with the club with a franchise-leading eight sacks and was one of just five players to start every game on defense.
The Jaguars rewarded him for his efforts. The four-year deal is worth an estimated $20 million with $7 million more in possible incentives. A total of $9 million of the deal is guaranteed.
The money is good Mincey said, but there were other factors that weighed in even more so in his decision to stay with the Jaguars.
"It was more seeing the organization step up at the right moment and show how much they cared and how much they respect me as a man and a player at the right time," Mincey said. "I was kind of just shocked at the moment and impressed. They won me over at the last minute like a game-winning shot and they made it happen at the right moment."
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