A dispute over contract language that affects seven fired Jacksonville Jaguars assistant coaches for more than $3 million in salary may have been one of the factors that led to the dismissal of Paul Vance, the team's senior vice president of football operations and general counsel, according to league sources.
A source said the dispute is over an amount of money between $3.5 million and $4 million.
The seven assistants had signed extensions in 2010 and the club believed it was for two years that would expire at the end of the 2011 season. However, the applicable clause in dispute states, "shall terminate on the later of January 31, 2012 or the day after the Jaguars' last football game of the 2012 season and playoffs ... "
Consequently, the assistant coaches want to be compensated for the 2012 season, especially if they remain unemployed. Those coaches' specific names have not been confirmed.
Vance, who was dismissed Sunday as the team's senior vice president of football operations and general counsel, called it an incorrect reference and that it "should have read the 2011 NFL season." Vance termed it an error and "there was no intent on your part or our part of the club to establish a contract for the 2012 season," according to a correspondence acquired by ESPN that was sent to the coaches.
Currently, the dispute remains between the club and the coaches, but without resolution could end up as a formal grievance filed with the league office, sources said.
Vance initially joined the expansion Jaguars in 1994 as the team's general counsel before he was appointed by former owner Wayne Weaver to oversee football operations, mostly related to contract negotiations, but with a very influential voice on all matters.
Sashi Brown has been promoted as new general counsel after serving as the assistant general counsel. Vance will be utilized as a consultant during the transition and for the remainder of the calendar year.
The organization was informed of the changes via an internal email, in which there was no mention on whether there will be a new vice president of football operations. Currently, Gene Smith is the Jags' general manager overseeing the personnel department. Smith also is heading the search for a new coach, with new owner Shad Khan making the final determination on that hire.
Jacksonville will interview Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey on Tuesday, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Weaver agreed to sell the franchise to Khan on Nov. 29 for $770 million. The deal included a $660 million sale price and $110 million in debt. Khan, an Illinois businessman who tried to buy the St. Louis Rams in 2010, began negotiating to buy the Jaguars later that year.
Last Wednesday, when the team officially was transferred to his ownership, he said he "will do everything possible to build a consistent winner on the field and a model franchise off the field."
Chris Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst. Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.