Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Jason from Orlando, FL:
"Salary Cap 101" is great. Has a team been caught giving signing bonuses under the table to avoid salary cap problems? What is the penalty if a team isn't putting all the salary of a player on its books?
Vic: Carmen Policy and the San Francisco 49ers incurred major fines and penalties for what the league deemed to have been salary cap improprieties in the 1990s, but the belief around the league is that its ownership is honorable and committed to a genuine execution of the salary cap's rules and spirit. One such example occurred a couple of years ago, when the Steelers discovered they had committed a minor cap violation on Wil Wolford on the previous year's cap. The league had missed it and no one would have ever known about the violation had the Steelers not reported it to the league. By doing so, however, they invited a penalty for their mistake, and the league made the Steelers forfeit their third-round pick in the 2001 draft. Maybe I'm being naïve, but I have a high regard for the integrity of the NFL and its ownership.
Carl from Jacksonville:
Hey, Vic, this is about the fourth or fifth time I'm posting a question to you, so, hopefully, I've passed the required rejection prerequisite, especially since this is such a good question pertaining to the salary cap. My question is in reference to players retiring with years and amortization still remaining on their contracts. What happens in those cases?
Vic: You're right, that is a good question, and I'm gonna give you a good answer: Retirement is treated the same way trades and releases pertain to the salary cap. In other words, when a player retires, his remaining amortization accelerates onto that year's salary cap. Of course, if he retires on or after June 2, his remaining amortization is spread over the next two years. The club can control when they actually designate the player as "retired." In other words, they can wait until June 2. Do you remember the June 2 rule, as it was stated in the fourth installment of "Salary Cap 101?" The rule is: What's in the current year, stays in the current year; what's in future years, goes into next year.
Scott from Canandaigua, NY:
Hey, Vic, love your column. I am just outraged about being only offered a third-round pick for Brunell. Could you help cheer me up by telling me your thoughts about this trade?
Vic: My thoughts are that the sooner March 3 arrives and this trade is officially consummated, the better. I will weigh in on this matter fully when the deal is done. Ask me what I think then.
Jim from Greenville, NC:
The current rumor says a third-round pick. Is $2 million too much to pay for that? Also, as to getting out of paying the bonus, the way I read the rules is you can't trade what you don't own and unless you pay the $2 million you don't own the rights.
Vic: Rumor is Mark Brunell is going to make the $2 million roster bonus go away. He holds the key to any trade. Brunell has to be satisfied with the arrangements of the trade, or he can use the roster bonus stipulation in his contract as possible veto power. It appears Brunell is satisfied with the contract the Redskins have offered him and with the Redskins' intentions of establishing him as their starting quarterback. With those factors in mind, Brunell has every reason to want the trade to happen, and the way to make it happen is by making the roster bonus go away. That'll guarantee the Jaguars will pull the trigger. Of course, Brunell could attempt to force his release and enter free agency, and competition could drive the bidding up, but it could also have an opposite effect. From where I'm sitting, the Redskins' current offer looks real good.
Jerry from Jacksonville:
Which players do you think in the last 10 years could have bypassed college football and declared themselves eligible for the NFL draft?
Vic: If you're asking who do I think could've bypassed college football and been successful in the NFL, I can only think of a few candidates, and I doubt if they would've made an immediate impact. Guys who come to mind right away are the giant-sized players, such as Tony Boselli and Jon Ogden. Size remains the great equalizer. It's a game for big guys, and Boselli and Ogden are big guys with great natural athletic skills. Ray Lewis is another player who comes to mind. Even though he came into the league as an undersized guy, he may have been tough enough and mature enough coming out of high school to compete at any level. Dan Marino was that kind of player, too. He was an immediate star as a true freshman at Pitt, and the only rookie quarterback in NFL history who didn't endure the travails of a rookie quarterback. You get the feeling with him, too, that he was physically and mentally gifted enough coming out of high school to compete at any level. Having said all of that, I will also tell you there's a chance all four of those guys may have had their heads handed to them, too. The difference between the NFL and college football is day and night. Imagine the gap between the NFL and high school football.
Amin from New Haven, CT:
Why doesn't the NFL have a minor league? Hockey has it; baseball has it. I think the NFL should have one.
Vic: The NFL does have a minor league; it's called college football, which has offered a free source of polished football talent through the history of professional football. The NFL understands and appreciates the luxury college football offers the league, and does everything it can to legally defend and promote the system the two have enjoyed. NFL Europe and the arena leagues are also sources of minor league development.
Andrew from Ft. Lauderdale, FL:
A person had asked what the Jaguars could do to solve their pass-defense problems and you said they should draft, since they already have Mathis. Why don't the Jaguars sign a free-agent cornerback, since there are probably going to be plenty, like either Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Chris McAlister, or any of the other great free-agent corners this year? Do the Jags have enough cap room for any of them? I know they might want to draft one, instead, but wouldn't they be better off with some experience to help their pass-defense?
Vic: There are no bargains in the first week of free agency. If you can find a guy on the way up who won't kill your cap, or if you can find a guy at a good price who can be used in a specific role, go ahead and sign him. I like cheap free agency; expensive free agency scares me to death. You do it your way, I'll do it mine. Draft, baby, draft.