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Sunday, February 21, 1999

Guarantees from Jets led Tupa to spurn Browns





SUNDAY, FEBUARY 21, 1999

By TONY GROSSI
PLAIN DEALER REPORTER


When Brecksville’s Tom Tupa had to decide between playing for his hometown Browns or moving on to the New York Jets, the free agent punter-quarterback chose to rejoin Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick.

“It was a no-brainer, actually,” said Tupa.

Free agency can be wonderful thing if you are at the right place at the right time. And this is what happened to Tupa.

“We thought we had an inside track [on Tupa], but that deal blew us out of the water,” said Dwight Clark, Browns director of football operations.

If you compare the contract Tupa got from the Jets compared to the one the Browns gave Chris Gardocki, you would understand how Tupa turned his back on the Browns. Tupa’s deal was $6.1 million over four years, an average of $1.525 million annually. Gardocki’s deal was $6 million over five years, an average of $1.2 million.

But the fine print reveals a much greater difference.

Tupa received a $1.8 million dollar signing bonus. Plus, the Jets guaranteed his base salaries for 1999 ($400,000) and 2000 ($1.15 million), in addition to a partial guarantee of $350,000 in his third year.

In other words, $3.7 million of the $6.1 million total is guaranteed – unheard of for a punter.

Gardocki's deal totals $1.8 million in guarantees – $1.4 million in signing and roster bonuses in 1999 plus his base salary of $400,000.

“It’s obvious why Tom signed with the Jets,” said Neil Cornrich, Tupa’s Cleveland-based agent.

Why would the Jets guarantee so much of the contract?

Tupa said Parcells intends to use him as the teams No. 2 quarterback on game days. That enables Parcells to save a roster spot – and salary – for another position.

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