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
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