Monday, April 14, 2003
Mitchell wins over jags at mini-camp
By Len Pasquarelli
In a move that signals the organization's displeasure with starting tight end Kyle Brady, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed five-year veteran Johnny Mitchell, who hasn't played in a regular-season game since 1996.
The addition of Mitchell, 32, came after he auditioned for Jags officials at a weekend mini-camp. He signed a one-year contract for the minimum base salary of $530,000.
Even though he has been out of the league for several years, and failed in previous comeback attempts, Mitchell becomes the most experienced tight end on the roster, after Brady, an eight-year veteran.
Jacksonville officials have been attempting to get Brady to agree to rework his contract, which calls for a 2003 base salary of $2.95 million, and a cap charge of $5.176 million. The veteran has declined to restructure his deal and skipped the weekend mini-camp.
Brady's contract runs through the 2006 season, but can void next spring if he is on the roster two days before the end of the league business year. There is a chance, given his intransigence on the contract matter and the fact that new coach Jack Del Rio expects players to participate in the offseason program, that Brady will be released in June.
If that is the case, and Mitchell replaces him, there would be some irony to the transition.
The New York Jets chose Brady in the first round of the 1995 draft and he eventually supplanted Mitchell, who left the team after that season.
Mitchell has played in just four games since the end of the 1995 campaign, with Dallas in 1996, and caught only one pass for 17 yards.
He signed with Miami after that, and walked out on the team, then failed in two attempts with the New Orleans Saints. He has been auditioning for some teams this spring and attempting to generate some interest. Del Rio said that Mitchell's conditioning is good for a guy who hasn't played in a game that counted for six seasons.
The itinerant Mitchell, who actually left the country at one point during his hiatus from the league, said that he walked away to deal with the illness of his daughter. He did not specify the illness but said that his daughter is now cured and that he wants to resume his career.
In his four seasons with the Jets, he had 158 catches for 2,086 yards and 16 touchdowns. His best season was in 1994, when he caught 58 passes for 749 yards and four touchdowns.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.