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All about tags

Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Erik from Jacksonville:
My concern is the middle of our offensive line and our blitz package. Both have been below average the past few seasons. Will the new staff focus on these areas this season?

Vic: Offensive linemen and linebackers who can run are priority needs this team will certainly address.

Octavius from Birmingham, AL:
I have a question concerning T.J. Slaughter and the linebacker depth ofthe Jags. I think he has the talent and the aggressiveness for a small linebacker. What do you think of him and will coach Del Rio keep him and Danny Clark?

Vic: Danny Clark is a restricted free agent who might be attractive to another team because they would only have to return a seventh-round pick as compensation. T.J. Slaughter is also a restricted free agent, but I don't think he'll be as attractive to another team because he would require third-round compensation. I like both players. I want to see Slaughter play a full season, which he hasn't been able to do because of injury. That's the key for him; stay healthy. Clark is durable and strong against the run. With Akin Ayodele expected to be a fixture at strongside linebacker, I'd like to see Clark get a shot at the middle position, provided the Jaguars are able to keep him.

Jay from Jacksonville:
Assuming the "franchise" tag is not reclaimed by way of re-signing Donovin Darius, aren't the Jaguars then left without the ability to put a tag onFred Taylor in 2004? Do you think the Jaguars are serious about wasting this on Darius when Fred Taylor's superior talent and market value make him the better choice? I could easily foresee a team giving up two first-rounders for Taylor if he has another successful season, which might be the real advantage of the "franchise" tag policy if we're talking about rebuilding. Either way, it's a win-win with Fred.

Vic: You're worrying unnecessarily. All indications are the Jaguars are close to a new deal with Fred Taylor. Beyond that, the Jaguars would be able to re-claim the "franchise" tag from Darius at any time, provided they don't sign him to a new contract between March 14 and July 15.

David from Tampa, FL:
What are "franchise" and "transition" tags?

Vic: They are procedural devices teams may use to retain the rights to players who have become free agents. If a team designates one of its players to be "franchise," then the team must pay that player at the average of the league's top five salaries at his position. If another team signs that player to a contract, his former team will receive two first-round picks as compensation from the signing team. If a team designates a player to be "transition," it retains the right of first refusal. That means that if another team signs that player to an offer sheet, the team holding that player's rights may retain those rights by matching the offer. In the winter of 1996, the Jaguars made offers to Alonzo Spellman and Quentin Coryatt, both of whom were "transition" players. The Bears and Colts then retained Spellman and Coryatt by matching the Jaguars' offers.

Kyle from Jacksonville:
What is the history of the "franchise" and "transition" tags?

Vic: They are products of the free agency/salary cap era and the Collective Bargaining Agreement that accompanies that period in NFL history.

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