In part one of our two part series about whether or not the Jaguars should explore contract renegotiations with starting quarterback David Garrard, we explored some of the legitimate reasons why Wayne Weaver and the rest of the Jaguars organization may choose to wait another year before drastically increasing the wealth of their signal caller. Some of our testimony included the fact that Garrard will still be under contract for next season, and his overall body of work being too small.
In this segment, we are going to look at some of the reasons that the Jaguars should try to get Garrard locked up long term. The first reason is the state of the quarterback position in the NFL. There aren't many "elite" quarterbacks that have been proven winners. There aren't a ton of quarterbacks in the NFL that are even considered good. Garrard was clearly a top 10 quarterback in 2007, and possibly even a top 5 quarterback, depending on who you talk to. Garrard's season was as good, if not better than any other season by a quarterback in franchise history. Why wouldn't you want to lock that up? Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio believes that it would be a good idea to put something together–
"Oh yeah. He's a good player. He's good for our football team. He's a right kind of guy and I like the way he approaches things. I liked the way he approached things before he became our guy. I like the fact that once he became our guy, he continued to approach things the right way. And I think that the players in that locker room respect that."
Another reason to make Garrard a long term fixture in Jacksonville is that he has helped reunite the Jaguars fan base after a quarterback controversy that encompassed the better part of four years. After drafting Byron Leftwich with the seventh overall pick in 2003, the Jaguars fan base was mostly split about who should be the team's starting quarterback, Leftwich or at first Brunell, then Garrard. With the subsequent release of Leftwich prior to the season, coupled with the steady play of Garrard, Jaguars fans know who their quarterback is with complete certainty. The team has an identity, and much of it is thanks to Garrard.
Garrard is also a team first individual and great leader on and off the field. He's certainly a guy that fans can feel good about rooting for, and his story has made him a national favorite. With a football team that's had more than it's fair share of off the field issues, having a leader with the image of David Garrard is great for the team and Jacksonville's image.
One major argument that you can make for locking up Garrard is that if you don't think he's the guy, who else are you going to get? Honestly, who else is out there, and who else will be out there that's any better? Over the last five or so years, only one free agent quarterback changed teams and went on to make a Pro Bowl, and that was Drew Brees. Good teams don't let good quarterbacks go, and drafting a quarterback is far from a sure thing.
David Garrard had a fantastic season, and although we don't know for sure if he'll keep up his elevated level of play, but there's no reason to believe he won't. He's a great community guy, the team stands behind him, the head coach appears to love him, and most importantly, Wayne Weaver has the cap room to keep him wearing teal for the foreseeable future. It seems as if it's pretty much a consensus opinion that the Jaguars should extend David Garrard, for all the reasons mentioned above. So how much of the Jaguars precious cap room will Garrard's contract encompass? Jack Del Rio talked about the process–
"There are a lot of different ways to go about it. Dallas took an approach with (Tony) Romo where it actually went into the season. So, we'll work on our timeframe. Again, we'll meet with Wayne (Weaver), Paul (Vance) and Shack (Harris) and myself and the coaches and we'll work on our wish list and then we'll turn over the negotiation part to Paul and let him work on it like he always does. And hopefully we'll be able to get something resolved and it won't be an issue going into the year. But again, it's happened before so you hope for the best that there is something out there that makes sense for both sides and you get it done."
Quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Tony Romo are probably the best players that we can use to compare to Garrard, based on a similar body of work prior to their new deals. Schaub and Romo signed contracts of $48 million and $67.5 million respectively over six years (signing bonuses of $7.5M and 11.5M) over the last 12 months. Both subject comparisons have combined for as many playoff appearances as Garrard, and one fewer playoff victory. Although both are very solid quarterbacks, each have had their issues. Schaub was injured quite a bit in his first and only season as a starter, and appears to be made of paper. Romo was everyone's darling as he threw for big yardage in the regular season with his fantastic compliment of weapons, but his big game performances have been ordinary to poor. Although Romo is statistically better than Garrard, one must wonder what Garrard's stats would be with Romo's group of weapons. We speculate that Garrard would receive a contract nearing that of Romo's, totaling anywhere from $15-20M guaranteed over the next few years. That would ensure David and his family certain financial security, and the team would have their unquestioned leader for the ascertainable future.
Negotiating Garrard: Part I / Negotiating Garrard: Part II
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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