Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Don from Jacksonville:
In light of the recent court ruling, can you envision an NFL team drafting a player just out of high school and waiting three or four years for him to develop?
Vic: The salary cap has put a much greater emphasis on the present. Teams can't afford to carry players on their salary cap who aren't productive. That's the NFL's greatest safeguard against the Maurice Clarett ruling. I don't expect NFL teams to raid high school rosters because the salary cap burdens and risks would be too great. As it stands right now, I see the Clarett ruling to have isolated impact. It's greatest impact will rest with players such as Larry Fitzgerald, which is to say college players who have established themselves as stars before they've completed three seasons of eligibility.
Ryan from Atlanta, GA:
In your opinion, is there any chance the 32 owners will make an agreement not to draft or sign Maurice Clarett? It would have to be a gentlemen's agreement, but it would put the league back in control of the situation.
Vic: What you're describing is called collusion and it cost major league baseball $280 million ($10.76 million per team) in settlement damages in the late 1980s. The courts are the law of the land, and they have spoken.
Glenn from Jacksonville:
If a player voted to the Pro Bowl is injured or elects not to play in the game, how is his replacement picked? Also, is that replacement labeled as a Pro-Bowler in the future?
Vic: Replacements are selected from the alternates order; first alternate, second alternate, etc. That order is determined by the number of votes for the players who weren't selected to play in the game. Any player who is selected to or plays in the Pro Bowl is considered a Pro-Bowler for that season.
Lee from Jacksonville:
You have said in the past that players such as Mark Brunell have little or no trade value, as teams know they are going to be released and can then negotiate with them as free agents. So, why are the Redskins looking to trade for Mark prior to his release date? And is trading Mark better for the Jaguars' cap than releasing him?
Vic: Let's begin with the facts. Trades may not be consummated until March 3, which is the official first day of the league calendar year. March 3 is the first day of trading, the first day teams must be under the 2004 salary cap, and the day qualifying players officially become free agents. Feb. 24 is the first day teams may release players. As far as the Redskins' reported interest in trading for Mark Brunell, I have to admit I am surprised by the news. I had previously considered a trade very unlikely for two obvious reasons: 1. Teams would be reluctant to trade a draft choice for a player who must be released. 2. Mark Brunell is due a $2 million roster bonus on the first day of the league calendar year, which means the Jaguars would have to pay Brunell another $2 million to be able to trade him. If reports are correct that Washington is willing to give the Jaguars a second-round pick for Brunell, then the issue is this: Are the Jaguars willing to spend $2 million for the ninth pick of the second round? Of course, I guess it's possible the Jaguars could find a way to negotiate-away, reduce or recover the roster-bonus money. It's an intriguing situation. If the Jaguars made that trade and paid the $2 million roster bonus, they would have added another $2 million to Mark Brunell's "dead money," which would become $4 million of "dead money" on the Jaguars' 2004 salary cap.
Paul from Gainesville, FL:
Brunell is a great quarterback, and on a solid team could put them over the top. Miami fits that bill, but no one else out of the pack that the newspaper names as "in the hunt" fits. You've said it before, Vic, "Will they ever learn?" Why are so many teams lining up to trade a draft pick for Brunell, when all they would have to do is wait a couple of weeks and try to sign him as a free agent? Does this indicate it only takes one franchise in panic mode to draw in several other suckers?
Vic: Everything seems to begin and end at the quarterback position. The Redskins lost six of their nine picks in last year's draft. Maybe they've adopted a future-is-now philosophy. They're making George Allen's teams look home-grown. Dan Snyder wants to win now and, apparently, at any cost.
Jared from Jacksonville:
Why would it benefit teams to make a trade for Brunell rather than just waiting for him to be released? No one wanted to take the cap hit a year ago, so why now?
Vic: If Mark Brunell has all of a sudden become a hot commodity, I can understand why teams would want to trade for him: To keep from losing him to a competing team in free agency. Brunell's $6.5 million salary in 2004 is high but not way out of line, and if his new team likes what they see, they would certainly have every reason to believe they could sign Brunell to an extension. But the big question is why wasn't Brunell a hot commodity last spring and summer? Why wasn't there interest in trading for him then? I can't answer that.
Taylor from Ellicott City, MD:
I am trying a new strategy to see if you might answer one of my questions; ask two a day. Anyway, thanks for keeping me entertained; sometimes life gets boring. If it was the Jaguars' pick and there was Roy Williams, Kenechi Udeze, Reggie Williams and Kellen Winslow, who would you take?
Vic: You know by now my answer is always "best available player." If I had a draft board with all of the players rated on it, I'd tell you who that player is of the four you've mentioned, but I'm not a scout, just a sportswriter. I will admit that, out of that group, I lean toward Kenechi Udeze. I have a feeling he's going to light it up in the postseason workouts and shoot up teams' boards.
Bob from Redlands, CA:
Does Brunell have a clause to refuse a trade, and why would a team give up a high draft choice when they can wait?
Vic: No and I don't know.
George from Jacksonville:
Vic, with the NFL making a big deal of tampering, if the Redskins or other teams are talking directly to Mark Brunell, how is this not tampering?
Vic: They would have to acquire permission from the Jaguars.