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Bonuses, Brunell, Smeenge and more

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

Chris Walker from Jacksonville:
If a player signed a contract with a team that includes, say, a $3 million bonus for a three-year contract, and if that player retired before the season started, what would happen?
Vic: The forfeiture language in most contracts would require the player to return his entire bonus, however, the team would not have its salary cap credited until the year after the money is returned.

Mike Rodriguez from Ormond Beach, FL:
I have always been a Mark Brunell fan and have enjoyed his play through the years, however, it seems he had his best years under Gilbride. Since his departure, Mark's timing seems off, he seems to be tentative with his decisions and throws. Is this a valid observation or just NFL defense's adjusting to his style and our team?
Vic: You've romanticized the 1996 season beyond reason. The simple fact of the matter is that Mark Brunell is a better quarterback now than he was then, in all ways except one: He's not as good a runner.

Mac MacLachlan from Pensacola, FL:
As you probably know, a number of us fans have been talking about the Mike Hollis situation. Can anything now be done in order to secure Hollis for next season? One thing I know I would hate to see is Hollis kicking the winning field goal against us somewhere in the future. I know the front office truly knows his value, so why not boost his salary above its current value with some sort of bonus for this year?
Vic: Where have you been for the past seven months? The Jaguars began this year $37 million over this year's salary cap, and they're already $20 million over next year's.

Dave Kanaszka from Neptune Beach, FL:
Since Joel Smeenge signed a contract with Chicago and then retired, does that mean the Bears hold the rights to retain him if he decides to come out of retirement? I know he wants and has wanted to play for our beloved Jaguars, but we didn't have the salary cap room when he signed with Chicago. Now we do have money, since Hardy restructured, and coach Coughlin has said we need a veteran defensive end. Even though number 99 is now taken by Stroud, is there a chance we could get Smeenge back in teal, black and gold?
Vic: The Bears list Joel Smeenge on the team's reserve/retired list. That means they retain all rights to him, should he want to come out of retirement.

Pete Signorelli from Goshen, NY:
Being that there are many great running backs in the AFC Central, do you think the Jags' defensive line is now strong enough to handle Eddie George, Jamal Lewis, Jerome Bettis and Corey Dillon?
Vic: If Marcus Stroud is the player he was drafted to be, the Jaguars will have made major strides toward being better against the run in pro football's best run-the-ball division. However, the task isn't complete. The Jaguars will probably lose defensive end Renaldo Wynn in free agency next winter, and Tony Brackens is more of a pass-rusher than a run-stopper. That means the Jaguars are going to have to turn hard toward defensive end in next year's draft, if they want to stop Eddie George and Edgerrin James in the new AFC South.

Brian W. Fullford from Jacksonville:
Hardy and Hollis have made known they feel the front office is not being forthright in their dealings with contracts and paying players their "fair-market value." From what you know, are these feelings justified? Is the front office making verbal commitments and then not owning up to them? Considering how much we will need to re-sign the likes of a Fred Taylor, it would seem to me that, if this organization is bent on being a player-friendly organization, some reciprocation is needed from all of the contract re-structuring that has occurred.
Vic: I don't know if promises were made that couldn't be kept. If there were, then that was a big mistake because no promises can be made in this league beyond the next season. As I see it, re-structuring is the problem. When you re-structure, especially as much as the Jaguars have, you announce to the players that a contract really isn't binding and it can be changed at any time. All of a sudden, a player reaches a higher level of performance and he wants his contract updated. It can't work that way in the salary cap era. In my opinion, the Jaguars should get away from contract re-structuring, with the idea that if a player signs a bad deal he should blame his agent, not the team. Let's get real about this. Anyone who doesn't think the team and the players are business adversaries is being very naïve. Professional football is not a warm and fuzzy business. Anybody who can't handle that should become a fan of figure skating.

Jimmy Stokes from Jacksonville:
Is Eric Westmoreland or T.J. Slaughter going to start the season as our weak side linebacker?
Vic: T.J. Slaughter is currently the starter at weak side linebacker. Eric Westmoreland is expected to play a major role on passing downs.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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