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Bad news, good news

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Kelvin from Warwick, UK:
Does the Jags salary cap situation for 2006 allow them to be considered likely to be a partaker in top free agency signings or will they be planning for Byron's next contract?

Vic: We've been over this and over this but I appreciate that it's a difficult concept to understand so let's do it again. If there's no CBA extension by March 2, a league-wide austerity campaign is expected. In other words, there won't be a lot of spending in free agency because teams won't have additional years beyond 2009 to amortize bonus money. That's the bad news for teams that need to improve their rosters, but that could also be good news for teams such as the Jaguars, whose salary cap is healthy enough to allow them room to do some work in free agency. The best part is that because demand would be down, it's likely the supply would be up and prices could be very attractive. The Jaguars planned for this possibility. They moved a lot of bonus money into current years and avoided loading up their 2006-09 caps. I wouldn't expect the Jaguars to go on a spending spree in free agency – austerity will be a league-wide attitude – but I would expect them to be an interested player in free agency.

Jason from Jacksonville:
We have had a lot of young players step up this year, but my vote for the best young player would be Alvin Pearman. What is your opinion?

Vic: Khalif Barnes is, hands down, the Jaguars' rookie of the year.

Alton from Melbourne, FL:
All this talk about teams allegedly throwing games for the Reggie Bush sweepstakes; don't you think the NFL should implement some sort of draft lottery that would include the lower-tier teams in the league, which would all but eliminate the conspiracy theory of teams throwing games for special players in the draft?

Vic: I like conspiracy theories and I like the system just the way it is. As a kid, I can remember the "O.J. Bowl." Now we're going to have the "Reggie Bush Sweepstakes" games this weekend. What's wrong with that? Who would ever remember those games if it weren't for Reggie Bush? On the same weekend we're focused on teams making a mad dash for the top of the league, we have a keen interest in a group of teams playing to be the worst. I like that.

Kyle from Charleston, IL:
So if Houston does get the first pick and they select Reggie Bush, do you think they will trade Domanick Davis?

Vic: I get questions every day about trading players. Here's my question: When are fans going to understand this isn't a league that does a lot of trading? It never has. The Seahawks couldn't trade Shaun Alexander last summer for anything better than a third-round pick. In most cases, a trade isn't possible because the trading team can't swallow the player's amortization, all of which accelerates into the current year. The Randy Moss trade is one of the few examples in which a team that was willing to "eat" the "dead money" was able to find a team willing to accept the player's salary. I'll bet the Raiders are glad they made that deal. How about the Travis Henry trade? That worked out well for the Titans, didn't it? There are some trades that turn out just fine, of course, but for the most part teams are not willing to give away draft choices for other teams' rejects. The predominant philosophy is that draft choices are worth more than players. There are lots of players, but you only have seven draft picks.

Mark from Rochester, NY:
Is Del Rio looking to give Jimmy Smith his 23 yards so he can reach his ninth 1,000 yard season?

Vic: I would expect that to be the case. Jimmy Smith does not have an incentive for reaching 1,000 receiving yards, but he does have an incentive for reaching 70 catches, which means he needs four more this Sunday.

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