Jaguars still must trade QB to Washington
Talks that began during Super Bowl week wrapped up late Thursday, when agent Leigh Steinberg and Redskins owner Dan Snyder agreed to a seven-year, $43 million contract with an $8.6 million signing bonus for the longtime Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback.
The deal becomes official once the offseason trading period begins March 3. The Redskins will give the Jaguars a third-round draft pick for Brunell, according to a source familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Brunell is expected to displace Patrick Ramsey as the starter, giving Joe Gibbs the veteran the coach has sought in his first season back in Washington after an 11-year retirement.
"Mark and Joe Gibbs have been talking every day, sometimes multiple times," Steinberg said. "Mark's comfort level and excitement level with Coach Gibbs has grown every day. He became convinced throughout the process that the ability to play for a Hall of Fame-caliber coach that had been to four Super Bowls was unique and too good to pass up."
Redskins director of player personnel Vinny Cerrato declined comment.
Brunell became Jacksonville's starter in the franchise's inaugural season in 1995. He completed 60.3 percent of his passes and threw for 144 touchdowns and 86 interceptions in 117 starts over nine seasons.
But he became expendable when rookie Byron Leftwich emerged as the starter last season.
Brunell had one year left on his contract and was due to count $10.5 million against the salary cap this year -- including a $2 million bonus due next month. The Jaguars were expected to cut him before paying the bonus, but the Redskins pre-empted the move by expressing interest in a trade.
At least three other teams -- Miami, San Diego and Dallas -- also inquired about Brunell, but the Jaguars allowed him to negotiate only with the Redskins. Gibbs flew to Florida to meet with Brunell on Feb. 9.
Brunell wanted to go where he could start and maintained he didn't want to become part of a quarterback controversy, although that could happen in Washington. Ramsey has become a popular player in his two years with the team, and his agent recently suggested Ramsey might request a trade if Brunell were signed. Gibbs has said he has no intention to trade Ramsey.
Steinberg did not say Brunell received any guarantees from Gibbs about the starting job.
"Obviously Mark's been a starter since 1995 and is confident of his ability to lead a team," Steinberg said. "But he looks forward to the ability to compete for a starting job in training camp."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press