First-round pick Monroe unsigned, likely to miss start of Jaguars camp

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After enduring Derrick Harvey's 33-day holdout last season, the last thing the Jacksonville Jaguars wanted was a similar situation this year.

They might not have a choice.

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First-round draft pick Eugene Monroe, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound left tackle from Virginia, was Jacksonville's only no-show when players reported for training camp Sunday night. Monroe and the Jaguars didn't appear close to agreeing on a contract that would put the eighth overall pick on the field when camp begins Monday.

"It's going to get handled," quarterback David Garrard said. "It'll happen. He's not going to hold out for very long, hopefully. I know he wants to play this year, and the longer guys hold out, the less likely it is for you to get out on the field."

The Jaguars know all about that.

Harvey's holdout was the longest in franchise history, far surpassing quarterback Byron Leftwich's 19 days out of camp in 2003. Harvey's signing became complicated when the New York Jets gave linebacker Vernon Gholston (the sixth pick) a five-year, $50 million deal that included $21 million guaranteed.

The Jaguars balked at a deal based off those numbers. By the time Harvey signed a five-year, $23 million contract that included $17 million guaranteed, he had missed all of training camp and three preseason games. The eighth overall pick in 2008 played in every game as a rookie, but he finished with just 3.5 sacks.

The Jaguars hope to avoid the same with Monroe, who is expected to start this fall.

Eben Britton, a second-round pick from Arizona, talked to Monroe several times this week and said his teammate would prefer to have a deal and be in camp.

"Really badly," Britton said. "He wants to be out here (Monday), but there's two sides to the coin, the business side, and every situation is different. It'll get done. It's just a matter of when, I guess."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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