It Pays to Wait

David Garrard showed perseverance does indeed pay off.

It paid off, as in a $60 million payday, spread over six years for the richest contract in team history.

A year ago this time, such a deal was the last thing on Garrard's mind. Sure he had started the last half of the 2006 season when Byron Leftwich was sidelined by an ankle injury, a setback that lingered long enough for Garrard to get the starting call for the last 10 games of the season.

But in the season finale against Kansas City, Garrard threw a pair of interceptions in the first half and the offense was non-productive. Coach Jack Del Rio pulled Garrard in favor of the team's then-backup quarterback Quinn Gray.

Even with the dismal showing against the Chiefs, there was offseason speculation that Garrard would challenge Leftwich for the starting role when the team opened training camp the following August. That possibility was squelched by Del Rio in February however, when Del Rio made the surprise announcement that Leftwich would continue in the starting role.

He did so during the team's first three games of the preseason. It quickly became evident that a change was imminent after Garrard clearly outplayed Leftwich in the early games. It then became official when Del Rio announced nine days before the season opener that Garrard would be the starter. Leftwich was released soon thereafter and later signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

Garrard admitted that a year ago, he would not have anticipated such a change in his situation.

"Absolutely not," he said when asked if he could have envisioned that this day would be here for him. "This time last year I was just trying to figure out what was in store for me because things had not turned out the way I would have liked them to at the end of the year.

"But I knew the best thing for me was to stay positive and to know that my time was going to come again. I felt like I showed enough things to be able to play somewhere in this league and I was just so happy and fortunate that Jack gave me the chance to do it here."

So it was a smiling, confident, relaxed Garrard who greeted the media knowing he had the security of $18 million in guaranteed money safely locked in place along with six more years at an average of $10 million per season beginning in 2009. The deal was a bit less than Garrard and his agent, Al Irby had originally requested from the team, but Garrard was more than content with what the Jaguars delivered. He has become a fan favorite and did not want contract negotiations to drag to the point it might soil his reputation with the paying public.

He told Irby to accept the deal.

"I pretty much had to say, 'let's go ahead and wrap it up.' I'm done. It's too much stress on me and my family," Garrard said. "My wife was done (with all the negotiations) five weeks ago. She has already been on board with everything and we just kept working on it and I finally said I'd rather be happy now, have the city happy now, have the team, the organization, the owner happy now then trying to string something out, having everybody on edge.

"And so I just said it's time to make everybody happy because I was already happy, and to be able to do this for my family is a great thing for me, my family and for the organization."

"I think every agent says 'let's wait awhile' but he has my best wishes in mind and he's just being an agent. He's trying to get everything he can and I really appreciate him for everything but when the bottom line comes, it's up to me and I felt like it was time."
-- David Garrard on if his agent was saying to wait awhile on signing a new contract extension.

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