Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Harvey's deal with Jaguars could be worth $30 million
ESPN.com news services
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick Derrick Harvey ended his 33-day holdout Wednesday after reaching agreement on a five-year contract that could be worth $30 million.
His base package will be $23.8 million over the five years. The key tradeoff that ended the holdout was the ability to get $6.2 million of incentives and escalators based on playing time, a source told ESPN.com's John Clayton. The escalators and incentives have less of a trigger than those in the deals signed by the draft picks taken above and below Harvey.
A former Florida standout, Harvey was the last first-round draft pick to sign and undertook a lengthy holdout that left him behind in preparation for the regular season and frustrated coach Jack Del Rio.
The eighth overall selection in April, Harvey was expected to bolster a pass rush that struggled to pressure quarterbacks last season. But he missed all of training camp and the first three preseason games.
It was unclear whether Harvey would play in the preseason finale Thursday night at Washington. He did travel with the team to Washington, D.C.
"This was a long and challenging process for the player and for the team," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said. "This was a good example of the problem commissioner [Roger] Goodell has cited with the lack of a rookie pay scale. We're all happy that Derrick can now focus on getting on the field, being a Jaguar and contributing to this team."
Harvey's deal included a little more than $17 million guaranteed and could pay him as much as $33.4 million with incentives and escalators.
Harvey had 20½ career sacks with the Gators and was the defensive most valuable player of the 2007 BCS national title game against Ohio State. The Jaguars liked -- and needed -- Harvey so much that they traded up 18 spots to get him. They may not have expected him to be so expensive.
But linebacker Vernon Gholston, selected with the sixth pick by the New York Jets, signed a five-year deal worth $50 million, with $21 million guaranteed. And New Orleans gave the No. 7 pick, defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, a five-year deal that reportedly included $19.5 million guaranteed.
Harvey's agent wanted a similar deal, but the Jaguars declined to give the rookie more guaranteed money than they gave quarterback David Garrard, who signed a six-year, $60 million extension that included $18 million guaranteed. It was the richest contract in franchise history.
"There were some unusual challenges and plenty of room for honest differences of opinion," said Paul Vance, the team's vice president of football operations.
Del Rio was the most vocal, ripping the escalating contracts of first-round draft picks.
"What's happened at the very top of the first round is ridiculous," Del Rio said last month. "When you're paying the guys who have never done anything more than star football players in this league that have played for years and established themselves at this level what they're capable of, it can be a little frustrating."
The Jaguars refused to budge from their final offer to Harvey, but they eventually gave in slightly by changing the deal's incentives and making them easier to achieve.
Now, after so many problems at the defensive end position, Jacksonville probably would prefer to see Harvey reach all of them.
James Wyche (Achilles tendon) is out for the season. Jeremy Mincey (wrist) has missed the entire preseason. Starter Reggie Hayward is still recovering from a hamstring injury. And second-round pick Quentin Groves has looked every bit like a rookie in the last two preseason games.
"We welcome Derrick and will work hard to get him up to speed as quickly as possible," Del Rio said. "I know that Derrick has been anxious to get here. It's good for him and also for us to have this done as we finish up the preseason and prepare to start the season."
The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton contributed to this report.