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Source: Leftwich signs for $23 million

Posted: Tuesday August 12, 2003 8:04 PM
Updated: Wednesday August 13, 2003 1:08 AM
  Marshall Leftwich hopes to unseat Mark Brunell as the starter. Craig Jones/Getty Images

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars reached an agreement Tuesday with rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich on a five-year, $23 million contract, an NFL source told The Associated Press.

The source, speaking on condition he not be identified, said the contract had yet to be signed as of late Tuesday night, but that Leftwich would almost certainly sign and make it to training camp on Wednesday.

The first-round draft pick out of Marshall missed 19 days of camp. As recently as Monday, both sides reported no significant progress in the stalled talks. Things apparently changed over 24 hours, although none of the parties were willing to give details.

Neither coach Jack Del Rio nor Leftwich's agent, Tom Condon, returned repeated messages left on their cell phones by the AP.

The source said Leftwich, the seventh pick in the draft, will make $11.4 million in bonuses over two seasons. The contract could be worth as much as $30 million if he reaches all the incentives in the deal. Incentives were thought to be the key issue in the negotiations.

Earlier Tuesday, Del Rio said the sides were very close to a deal. He wouldn't specify what triggered the breakthrough.

"A lot of hard work, I guess," he said. "It was people working hard to get this thing done."

When Leftwich reports, he will be up against a difficult learning curve. The Jaguars break training camp in eight days.

"We're right at that edge," Del Rio said. "He's got a lot of catching up to do. We'll answer that once he's here."

Also on Tuesday, Del Rio fined defensive tackle Larry Smith for being late to practice. Smith collapsed from heat exhaustion on the second day of camp, and since then, Del Rio has been critical of him for reporting to camp out of shape.

Smith didn't practice Tuesday afternoon, instead spending the time conditioning with trainer Mike Ryan.

"I've said it many times -- we want men here," Del Rio said on his radio show Tuesday evening. "I don't want to be a baby sitter."

 
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