Small-Market Spendthrifts?

There is a common misconception about small market teams that gets floated around media circles and is written as gospel. One of them is that small market NFL franchises are cheap because they don't have the flow of cash that bigger market teams like Dallas or Washington has. This has become more of a label specifically for the Jacksonville Jaguars and owner Wayner Weaver lately.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver has taken a lot of flack throughout the years as being a "cheap" owner. It's unclear where this misconception started, but it did and it's still alive today. Many thought that the Jaguars would be quiet in free agency early on and not sign anyone worth note. The news that wide receiver/special teamer Kassim Osgood was on his way to Jacksonville didn't to anything to quell that rumor either.

What really took that rumor to task however, was seemingly the shocking news that defensive end Aaron Kampman was in Jacksonville and they were talking contract. Many had Kampman ranked as the second-best free agent defensive end and had him most certainly signing with a team who lost the "Julius Peppers Sweepstakes", but that was a sweepstakes Jacksonville didn't even enter. Kampman signed late Saturday night with a four-year deal reportedly worth $26 million with $11 million guaranteed; very similar to the first free agent who signed, new Detroit Lion Kyle Vanden Bosch. Jacksonville also signed Kassim Osgood the same day for 3 years and $6.65 million with $3 million guaranteed.

Neither of these deals are blockbuster, but would you expect a cheap owner to pay a 30-year old pass rusher coming off a torn anterior crucial ligament $11 million guaranteed?

Most owners worried about their bottom line would just re-sign their own free agents for veteran minimum, or chase a lesser-known, less costly player at the same position.

Wayne Weaver has shown he's not afraid to spend money when it needs to be spent. He gave Jaguars quarterback David Garrard a $60 million contract after one good season. He also paid Pro-Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew while he was still a back up. He spent money on big contract free agents like Drayton Florence, Jerry Porter, and Hugh Douglas. This is also the same owner who back in 1999 thought he was close to a Super Bowl and hammered out big deals to players like Carnell Lake and Bryce Paup in a failed hope to get on top of the NFL world. This was in addition to signing quarterback Mark Brunell to a big-time contract that paid him $5 million a season, which was a lot in that time.

Wayne Weaver isn't a cheap owner, Wayner Weaver is a financially responsible owner. He's been burned many times spending lots of money in free agency so many people think he's scared to or too cheap to take another shot. He's not scared, he's just smart. If he didn't feel that his front office had a good gauge on a player like Aaron Kampman's health and recovery process, he wouldn't have shelled out the money. While notoriously free-spending franchises like Washington and Dallas sat idle during the opening weekend of free agency, the Jacksonville Jaguars jumped up and dove right in.

Alfie Crow is a contributor to JagNation.com and also the co-host of CB Sports Radio on ESPN 1420 in St. Augustine, FL. You can contact him at alfie@jagnation.com or follow him on twitter @alfiecrow


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