Coming into this season, the primary area of concern for the Jaguars was the pass rush, or lack thereof. With no available options in free agency, the Jaguars decided to trade all they way up to pick #8 and select Derrick Harvey. At the time of the deal, everyone in the Jaguars front office was enamored—
"He's got excellent first-step anticipation and burst off the line of scrimmage," Del Rio said. "He has tremendous close on the quarterback. He's produced sacks and forced turnovers and been an impact player and he's really played his best football in big games, and we just think he's a real good fit for us."
Harvey immediately said all the right things as he vowed to be in the Jaguars offseason training programs, and was true to his word—
"I am going to come in for the offseason program, work hard and get in the weight room, learn the plays, get with my defensive line coach, get with the head coach and some of the veteran players and just learn the system," Harvey said. "Whatever my role will be, special teams, defensive end, it doesn't matter. I am just trying to help the Jacksonville Jaguars win more games than they did last year."
So April bliss turned into an August mess as neither the Jaguars nor Derrick Harvey seem to want to budge on their contract demands. With every other player in the first-round signed to a contract, it appears that if one or both sides seem to be a little too stubborn with their claims.
Derrick Harvey is looking for financial security and the although the difference between the guarantees of the seventh and ninth picks is money that he may never be able to spend, he and agent Ken Kremer believe that particular amount of money is what the market calls for, and they would appear to be right.
The Jaguars organization doesn't want to pay more than an eight or nine percent increase in guaranteed money over last season's eighth-overall pick (Jamaal Anderson, Atlanta), being that is the approximate increase of the salary cap. And they appear to be in the right as well.
So with both sides having solid cases, what are both the team and Harvey to do? Negotiate. Which is something they haven't reportedly done in weeks. Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio has taken a public stance that the team has been more than fair to their first-round pick and he'd like to have him in camp—
"The time he's missing is valuable time. The fact is the team's going to be fair and we have been and that's where we are. It's not like holding out and holding your breath is going to change anything. It really doesn't make any sense for him not to be here and hopefully he'll come to that conclusion and get in soon."
Meanwhile, Harvey and his agent believe the Jaguars are short-changing them and taking a proverbial "stand" against ever-increasing rookie salaries. With the Jaguars lack of depth and wealth of question marks at defensive end, Harvey has as much leverage as he will ever have, and the team can certainly use his outstanding skill set.
Jaguars right tackle Tony Pashos, who was lined up opposite Harvey in OTA's commented on his abilities—
"Derrick Harvey, I don't want to call him any huge sack master right now, as a rookie defensive end coming into the NFL usually when you see rookie defensive ends, they pin their ears back and rush up field, this guy has a good, good feel to the game. He's not just rushing up field. He has spin moves, he's ducking under guys. The guy has a lot of pass rushing ability. Height, speed, hips, he's got it all, he has a great feel for the game."
So the Jaguars need Harvey, and Harvey is not going to sit out the season and go back into the draft. If he does, he likely won't be the eighth-overall selection and he likely won't earn as much money. It's easy for us to spend Wayne Weaver's money, but isn't potentially winning the Super Bowl worth keeping your first-round pick happy and giving him what his draft slot calls for? Although Harvey's presence certainly doesn't guarantee a Super Bowl appearance or even one regular season victory, his extended absence will cause a further media distraction and the team to be weakened at defensive end.
It seems as if most fans tend to side with management in these negotiations citing the fact that one or two million extra dollars likely won't affect the players lifestyle. Although that may be true, one or two million extra dollars certainly won't affect billionaire Wayne Weaver's lifestyle, nor will it wreck the Jaguars salary cap. To put it simply, enough is enough and the Jaguars need to get Harvey into camp, even if they spend a little more than they believe he's worth.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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