The time frame for the Jacksonville Jaguars to work out a new contract with quarterback Mark Brunell has been cut by six weeks.
Brunell, who became the first player since Johnny Unitas to lead the NFL in passing yards and rushing yards by a quarterback, has told his agent to close contract talks when training camp opens July 20.
Brunell, whom the Jaguars acquired two years ago in a trade with Green Bay, emerged as their starter during the 1995 expansion season, then led the Jaguars to the AFC Championship game against New England last season.
He is in the final year of a three-year contract that pays him a base salary of $1.2 million this year.
Without a contract extension, the Jaguars likely would place the franchise label on Brunell, which would keep him from becoming a free agent.
Jacksonville would have to pay him the average salary of the top five quarterbacks in the league, but Brunell would lose out on a big signing bonus.
Steelers sign Jacke
The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free agent kicker Chris Jacke to replace Norm Johnson, who refused to take a pay cut from his $650,000 salary and was waived. Terms of Jacke’s deal were not released.
Jacke, 31, was an unrestricted free agent who has played the past eight years with the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
Packers ink kicker
The Packers announced the signing of rookie kicker Brett Conway, a third-round draft pick out of Penn State.
The team did not release any details of the contracts for Conway or other rookies who had to be signed in order to report to training camp.
The team also has signed linebacker Anthony Hicks, wide receiver Chris Miller and quarterback Ronnie McAda.
Baxter an Eagle
The Philadelphia Eagles signed free agent fullback Brad Baxter to a two-year contract, adding a six-year veteran who sat out last season.
The 30-year-old Baxter, the New York Jets’ seventh-leading career rusher, gained 2,928 yards and scored 35 touchdowns on 779 carries in 95 games with the Jets from 1990-95. He didn’t play in 1996 after being cut by New York on Aug. 25.
Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Larry Webster has been reinstated by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Webster was suspended for a year for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
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