- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Joe Gibbs had to take himself to a Florida hospital yesterday when he suffered from low insulin levels, but the minor incident did not keep the Washington Redskins coach from making it to his scheduled evening meeting with Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell.

Brunell drove Gibbs, who has diabetes, to Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, Fla., when the coach realized his insulin level was too low. Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said Gibbs received a shot from doctors and within an hour resumed his trip.

“His insulin level got out of balance,” Swanson said. “He went to the local hospital, where they gave him the appropriate insulin to get his level back, and then he went back out to dinner.”

Gibbs proceeded to meet with Brunell near the player’s St. Augustine home, where he was expected to tell the veteran quarterback he will have a chance to start ahead of incumbent Patrick Ramsey.

Starting job or not, the Redskins may soon find out their trade offer to the Jaguars of a second-round draft pick isn’t enough to bring Brunell to Washington.

Brunell’s future is ultimately in the hands of the Jaguars, who have him under contract through 2004. And Jacksonville believes it can attract an offer better than the Redskins’ from one of the several other clubs clamoring to acquire the suddenly in-demand quarterback.

The Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys are all believed to have approached the Jaguars about Brunell, and all three could outbid the Redskins’ offer before the NFL’s trading period commences March3.

San Diego, which is looking for a veteran quarterback to compete with Drew Brees, selects six spots higher than Washington in the second round. Miami, which is actively seeking a replacement for Jay Fiedler and Brian Griese, has the 20th pick of the first round, while Dallas, a playoff-team in need of a veteran quarterback, has the 22nd pick.

As recently as last week, the prospect of a team offering a first-round selection for Brunell seemed out of the question, but news of the Redskins’ surprise pursuit has driven up the market.

In fact, before Washington got involved there did not appear to be any trade market for Brunell. The Dolphins, Chargers and Cowboys all expected Brunell to be cut by the Jaguars before March3, when he is due to earn a $2million roster bonus (raising his 2004 salary cap number to $10.5million).

But when the Redskins’ trade talks with Jacksonville became public knowledge over the weekend, other clubs suddenly realized their only chance to acquire Brunell would be via trade, not free agency.

That has played right into the hands of both Brunell and the Jaguars, who now can spend the next three weeks engaging any interested teams in a bidding war for a quarterback many believed would be in little demand.

“Initially in the process, we just assumed Mark would be a free agent,” Brunell’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, said yesterday. “And it’s only recently that we’ve become aware of the possibility that he could be traded. So it was actually a little bit of a surprise last week.”

Gibbs’ house visit last night was primarily a “get-to-know-you” meeting. A source with knowledge of the talks said no contract figures were discussed; the two spoke only about Gibbs’ vision for the Redskins and how Brunell might fit into those plans.

Washington had given Brunell no assurances before last night that he would be the starting quarterback ahead of Ramsey, but it’s clear Brunell is considering only teams that can make such a promise.

“What we’ve told Jacksonville is that our preference, if they’re going to make a trade, be that Mark go to a team that would have playoff potential and Super Bowl aspirations and that he not walk into a quarterback controversy,” Steinberg said. “Beyond that, this process is just starting to play out.”

Steinberg said the Redskins were not a team on Brunell’s radar screen before they commenced trade talks last week, but the 33-year-old quarterback was immediately intrigued by the prospect of joining Gibbs.

“I didn’t take a hard look at Washington, but I’d consider it a privilege to play for Joe Gibbs,” Brunell told the Florida Times-Union on Sunday night. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about him as a person and a coach.”

Gibbs’ house visit last night represented Brunell’s first suitor, but it won’t be the last. Brunell and Steinberg now will wait and see what kind of contract offers surface from other clubs while the Jaguars field trade offers. Though Brunell has a say in where he winds up, Jacksonville ultimately gets to decide with which team it will consummate a deal.

Since no trades can be completed until March3, neither Brunell nor the Jaguars feel any urgency to strike an immediate deal.

While the possibility of the Redskins adding a player like wide receiver Rod Gardner to their trade offer has been raised, NFL sources said the Jaguars are looking only to acquire draft picks, not to take on more salary. Jacksonville reportedly is willing to pay Brunell his $2million roster bonus (and take the ensuing salary-cap hit) if it can come away with a high draft pick in a trade.

Notes — The Redskins have allocated seven players to NFL Europe: quarterback Gibran Hamdan, Amsterdam Admirals; wide receiver Sean Dillard, Cologne Centurions; tight end Leonard Stephens and offensive lineman Ben Nowland, Frankfort Galaxy; and offensive lineman Pita Elisara, wide receiver Dwain Goines and defensive tackle Cedric Killings, Rhein Fire. …

George Catavolos, the Redskins’ defensive backs coach under Steve Spurrier, has joined the Detroit Lions in the same role.

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