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A proud edition

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions. Vic: There will be no "Ask Vic" column next week.

Howard from Buford, GA:
I read that Ty Law's agent said he and the Jets have mutually agreed to part ways. I know the Jets had a rough season last year but it seemed that Law had decent stats. Why would the Jets agree to release him to become an unrestricted free agent? Why not trade him and get something for him? I would think they could get a mid-round pick for him.

Vic: The Jets have a major salary cap problem. They are way over the cap and Ty Law is one of the reasons. Law will provide a major cap savings when he is cut. Remember the rule about the first day of the league calendar year, which is the day all teams must be under the cap and the day trading may begin? At midnight on March 3, all teams must be under the cap. Then you can trade. You can't trade to get under the cap. The Jets are trying to find a way to "franchise" John Abraham and keep him on their roster so they can trade him. Cutting Law will help provide room the Jets can use to "franchise" Abraham. Law has no trade value anyhow.

Nick from Hanover, NH:
I'll have you know that because of how interesting you've made the CBA and because of how well you've communicated its magnitude and importance over the past few years that I've been reading "Ask Vic," I've decided to major in Labor Economics at school.

Vic: It'll be a proud day for "Ask Vic" when you graduate from Dartmouth in Labor Economics. Who would've ever thought one of our sons would get a degree from an Ivy League school? I'm teary-eyed.

Eric from Fayetteville, NC:
When a player falls short of an incentive during the regular season, do postseason games count toward that player's stats for incentive money or is that dependent on the verbiage of the contract?

Vic: It all depends on what the contract says. Most contracts, of course, don't include postseason stats in their escalators, for the obvious reason. What if the team doesn't make the playoffs?

Joseph from Statesboro, GA:
How come some teams can sign free agents (the Colts signed 16) before the start of free agency?

Vic: Those are street free agents. No team owned their rights.

Brian from Rowland Heights, CA:
I think it's ironic that you were completely right about the Colts similarities to the 1999 Jags. Their records were 14-2 and both lost in the AFC playoffs. The Jaguars went through years of troubled times right after the 99 season. Will the Colts go through that, too, with their salary cap woes, similar to our '99 Jags?

Vic: Probably.

Carter from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Thanks for the DGR/TFR info. Pro football is a business and it is all about the money. One issue I've heard nothing about lately is a new revenue-sharing agreement among the owners. I don't see how the owners can agree to a new CBA until they have determined the actual revenue streams that each team can expect. Is there any sign of the owners reaching a new revenue-sharing agreement?

Vic: This is a very proud column for me because of our Ivy League son and the quality of your question. You're right on, Carter. All of that stuff the people who don't want to know anything about the CBA and revenue-sharing have been throwing out about progress in the CBA negotiations recently has left me shaking my head. Do they really not understand that there can't be any kind of significant progress on a CBA extension until the owners make significant progress on a revenue-sharing plan? Any progress or verbal agreement between the players and the league on a new CBA would have to be tied to a revenue-sharing agreement among the owners, and the owners are nowhere on a revenue-sharing agreement. They will meet in Dallas on March 7 in a special meeting, obviously to discuss revenue sharing. Unless there's some kind of cataclysmic event between now and March 7, nothing firm can be decided until then, regardless of any progress made on the CBA. Truth be known, revenue sharing is more of a problem than the CBA negotiations with the players union. The gap between the players and the owners on a CBA can be bridged. The division among the owners on a revenue-sharing plan is much wider.

Mikey from Richmond Hill, GA:
I seem to remember someone saying the Texans can make their pick before the draft. Can they?

Vic: They can sign a draft-eligible player to a contract right now and he would be their first-round pick. At that point, the Saints would be on the clock.

Mark from Jacksonville:
Are players ranked on draft boards by a numerical system or by some other means?

Vic: It's numerical. Teams have a grading system. They put a number on a guy according to his ability, then slot him in the rankings according to that number. If you pick the player who has the highest number on your board, you are picking the best player available.

Nick from Annapolis, MD:
Larry Johnson finished the season with 1,750 yards rushing and 20 rushing touchdowns. Could he be the best back in the league?

Vic: In my opinion, he's the best back in the game. He's a big, powerful runner who can pound inside on short yardage and in goal line, yet, he has open-field elusiveness that makes him one of the best big-play guys in the game. He's a deft pass-catcher and on top of all of that he's young and just coming into his prime years. I think if I was going to start a team and I was allowed to pick any three players in the league, Tom Brady would be my first pick, Johnson would be my second pick and Julius Peppers would be my third.

Chris from Tampa, FL:
If I recall correctly, years back you said the league could step in and void contracts of a team that is over the cap, and do so until they were under the cap. I'm just wondering what happened to that? You seem worried the Redskins may be able to elude the cap troubles they have set themselves up for.

Vic: Voiding contracts won't work with the Redskins. It'll only worsen the problem because most of their players are higher in acceleration than salary. You can cut their whole roster and they'll still be way over the cap. That's why I'm worried about how the league will handle the Redskins situation if there isn't a CBA extension. What if the league hits them with a penalty that isn't a death sentence? What kind of precedent would that set?

Joseph from Statesboro, GA:
How in the world did the Titans extend Kyle Vanden Bosch without a CBA extension? Are they just ignoring their cap problems like the Redskins?

Vic: It's too early to know the details, so what I'm going to say is pure speculation. First of all, no team has to be under the cap until March 3. The Titans can go over the 2006 cap right now because enforcement of it won't begin until March 3. There's also the possibility the Titans won't even turn the contract into the league for awhile. It wouldn't matter either way. What the Vanden Bosch deal tells us, most likely, is that the Titans are going to start cutting or re-structuring some guys between now and March 3. I don't know who those guys are but here are some obvious candidates: Benji Olsen is due $8 million in salary in '06; Brad Hopkins has an $11 million salary; Travis Henry is due $5 million. The Titans can provide a lot of cap room just in those three guys, not to mention whatever decision they make on Steve McNair. Fixing the Titans' cap won't be that hard to do, but they still have hard decisions to make. Teams may begin cutting players on Feb. 23.

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