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Del Rio rewarded with extension after first playoff win

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio signed a five-year contract extension Thursday, a reward for winning his first playoff game.

Del Rio's salary was not disclosed, but it was believed to be a significant jump from the original five-year, $6.5 million contract he signed in 2003.

The Jaguars, who were 11-5 last season, defeated Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs and then ended the season with a 31-20 loss at New England.

"Clearly when I reflect back on the last five years, great things have happened," team owner Wayne Weaver said. "Under Jack's leadership, this franchise has continued to really make great progress."

Jacksonville is 45-35 in five years under Del Rio and has two playoff appearances, the first of which landed the coach a contract extension that paid him $3 million annually the last two years.

Del Rio's deal could keep him in Jacksonville through the 2012 season.

"I look forward to building on what we have begun," Del Rio said a day before his 45th birthday. "I really do feel that there is something very special taking place here in Jacksonville right now."

Del Rio believes the Jaguars have closed the gap on AFC powers New England and Indianapolis, especially after the team's offseason makeover.

Del Rio hired four new assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and parted ways with several aging veterans. Then he signed cornerback Drayton Florence and receivers Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson in free agency.

He also traded oft-injured, three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud to Buffalo in exchange for two draft picks.

"We believe the arrow is up and we ought to be able to compete at the very highest level this year," Weaver said.

With Del Rio's deal done, Weaver said the Jaguars will turn their attention toward a new contract for quarterback David Garrard.

Garrard is entering the final year of a four-year deal worth about $2 million annually.

"I think you can expect something on the quarterback," Weaver said. "We hope it'll be sooner than later. We think the world of David. He's the guy that we believe can lead us and bring that world championship here to Jacksonville, so hopefully we'll get that done sooner than later."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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