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Buying time for Manning

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

Dan from Egg Harbor Township, NJ:
Last week you said you would give us the details of the Colts Corey Simon deal. Is it back-loaded and going to kill their cap?

Vic: It's a five-year deal with a $3 million signing bonus. The big part of the deal is a $10 million guaranteed option bonus payable on the third day of the 2006 league calendar year. The significance of those two figures is this: Simon's salary cap hit this season is $1.145 million, then spikes to $5.6 million in '06, which means the Colts will probably re-structure Simon's contract and push more money out for the purpose of avoiding their inevitable cap collapse for at least one more year. The contract is just as I expected, which is to say the Colts continue to borrow from the future to make players affordable in the present. It's what the Jaguars did in 1999-2001 and we know how that turned out. I can't blame them for doing what they're doing. Peyton Manning is a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback and you have to make the most of the time you have him. At this point, the Colts have pushed so much money into the future that it doesn't matter what they do with what they have left because their fate will be the same.

Michelle from Houma, LA:
This is my first time writing, though I have read your column for two years. I lost my home to Katrina and I'm writing from a hotel room in Texas. Vic, the part of my day I enjoyed most was coming home for lunch, brewing a cup of coffee and reading your column. I just wanted to say thank you because every day when I read your column now I feel like I'm home.

Vic: Today, I owe you thanks for brightening our day. We're so glad you're safe and have begun the road to recovery.

William from Jacksonville:
You have always tried to get fans to look at the big picture and one of the best ways you do it is by looking at the quality of a roster and the health of the salary cap. So, before the games begin and we get caught up in instant replays, injuries, play-calling and prevent defenses, how many teams in the NFL would trade rosters and salary caps with the Jaguars?

Vic: That's how you do it. In my opinion, that's how you judge the overall performance of your team's front office. Chuck Noll used to always say "it's a scoreboard business." Well, this is one of the "scoreboards" I use to evaluate a team: Would you trade your roster for theirs, bearing in mind, of course, that when you trade for a team's roster, you also accept the salary cap liability of that roster? Given that criteria, a lot of teams would trade with the Jaguars. Roster depth and salary cap health are precious commodities. The one or two players who put a team over the top are a lot easier to acquire than roster depth and salary cap health, both of which require years of disciplined pursuit. Why don't you do it? Start in the AFC South. Which teams do you think would trade rosters with the Jaguars? Then go division to division and ask the same question.

John from Jacksonville:
How can Jorge Cordova be well enough to play in preseason games but when it comes to the final cuts he goes on injured reserve? Also, after his injury the Jags reported that Todd Yoder would only be out for up to six weeks, but he also went on injured reserve? It looks like the Jags are using IR to protect players who can probably play this year. Is this a correct observation?

Vic: In Cordova's case, the Jaguars are using injured reserve to protect a player who needs more time to recover from reconstructive knee surgery. The league isn't going to balk at that; everybody accepts the fact that recovery from ACL surgery is a two-year proposition. In Yoder's case, once it was decided he would not make the final roster, the Jaguars had two options: Do an injury settlement with him or put him on injured reserve. Yoder is a vested veteran, which means he is not subject to the waiver process (there's an exception to that rule between the trading deadline and the end of the season).

Barry from Gainesville, FL:
What is the purpose of the practice squad? What does a player on the squad make? Do they actually practice on a day-to-day basis with the team?

Vic: The practice squad also goes by the name "developmental squad," which should accurately portray its intent. Most coaches, however, use the practice squad as a separate reservoir of talent from which the coach can trade-out players according to the team's immediate needs. Practice squad players do, of course, practice with the team and they are paid $4,700 a week.

William from New Orleans, LA:
In response to Marty from Gulf Shores, Ala., I would just like to say that I, too, am looking forward to the upcoming season. I need something to take my mind off this.

Vic: You have our best wishes.

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