Laughing All the Way to the Bank

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced today that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has agreed to an eight-year, $102 million contract extension, which includes roughly $36 million of guaranteed money. If you're a Jaguars fan you're probably thinking, "that's all well and good, what does that have to do with my team?" The answer is a lot.

The Jaguars have a few players that are entering the final year of their deals and among them is none other than quarterback David Garrard. I'm certain that Roethlisberger and his agent Ryan Tollner, as well as their families are the happiest people regarding the news of Big Ben's newfound wealth, but David Garrard and agent Albert Irby are likely celebrating almost as much. Imagine that you are going to sell your house, and a house on the same street as yours that may be just a little bit bigger just sold for an exorbitant amount. That is the same type of exuberance that the Garrard family is feeling at this moment.

Is David Garrard as good of a quarterback as Ben Roethlisberger? It's certainly debatable, but the quick answer is no. Roethlisberger was a former first-round pick who has been to a Pro Bowl and won the Super Bowl, well sort of. Roethlisberger completed just 9 of 21 passes and had 0 TD's and 2 INT's in that Super Bowl victory, but he's the one that got them there, and he has the jewelry. Ben's stats were somewhat similar to Garrard's this season. They finished two and three in quarterback rating (104.1 & 102.2), and their teams faced off twice in 2007 with Garrard's Jaguars winning both games.

Does David Garrard have the same body of work as a Ben Roethlisberger? No, but Garrard has defeated him in the only two games that they've squared off, and don't think agent Albert Irby isn't going to hammer home that point in the current contract negotiations with the Jaguars. When asked about the negotiations, Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio didn't say much other than, "Oh, yeah, that's underway."

Smartly, for Garrard, he and his agent weren't in too great of a rush to begin negotiations so the news of the money that Roethlisberger has received must give Garrard some pretty good leverage. With the Jaguars acting as spendthrifts in free agency over the last three days, committing to nearly $65 million of contracts, and upwards of $25 million in guaranteed money, it's obvious that they aren't overly shy when it comes to spending these days.

Take into account that the team has surrounded itself with offensive weapons via the additions of Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson, and everything points to Garrard being the key to the entire offense. Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio talked about the new additions at wide receiver–

"I really think it was a great fit for us (Porter). He's an explosive player. He's had some big years. We think his best football is still ahead of him and we're very excited to have him. It's very competitive. We added two guys; one guy that we know is a really fine player at that position. We add another guy who has a lot of potential with a lot of speed and add them to a group that was competitive last year."

Prior to today, it was expected that Jaguars quarterback David Garrard would receive somewhere in the neighborhood of what Houston's Matt Schaub and what Dallas' Tony Romo was signed to last year, which were six-year deals worth approximately $48 million and $67.5 million respectively (with $7.5 and $11.5 million signing bonuses). Garrard's 2007 season was far superior to Schaub's, and Romo may have had greater stats, but he plays in a wide open type of offense with certainly more weapons, and they both have won as many playoff games as I have.

With Art Rooney and his Steelers, who are known for being frugal at best, opening their accounts for that enormous transfer to Ben Roethlisberger, David Garrard's future contract that is in the current process of negotiation just went up significantly. David Garrard should send his friend Ben Roethlisberger a shiny new Rolex for his deal, but then again he can now easily afford one on his own.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of, and a regular syndicated contributor to, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and 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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