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Cut to the chase; yes, sir

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

Scott Lodes from Grand Haven, MI:
How does Brackens look so far this year? Does he appear 100 percent healthy? He played great when he came back from injury last year, averaging almost a sack per game. Jaguars fans know he's a leader on defense and they will definitely need him for all 16 games this year.
Tony Brackens missed all but two practices of training camp, as the result of a slow recovery from January knee surgery. He told reporters during training camp he will need another knee surgery following the season. The hope is his knee will hold up through this season, though it will clearly have to be babied through the week. His status is clearly of major concern.

Darren Edwards from Daytona Beach, FL:
Let's cut to the chase on this Jimmy Smith holdout. I only see four options and want to know the salary cap consequences for each: 1.) Weaver gives Jimmy a new contract; 2.) Jimmy sits our all year; 3.) The Jags trade Jimmy; 4.) The Jags cut Jimmy. With that said, what do you think will happen? Or, better yet, what would you do as the owner?
1.) I can't tell you what the salary cap consequences of a new contract would be without knowing the details of that contract. I can tell you that Jimmy Smith represents $7.57 million of remaining amortization that must make its way through the Jaguars' books. 2.) Sitting out the 2002 season wouldn't seem to be a reasonable option because it would not alter the situation at all. Smith would still have five years remaining on his Jaguars contract. He could wait until week 10 of the regular season before reporting, and he would then earn an accrued season and expire one year of his Jaguars contract, but he would only be paid a prorated portion of his $2.75 million salary, and that tactic wouldn't make much sense for a guy with five years left on his contract; it would make more sense for a player with one year left to do that because he would then become a free agent. 3.) If the Jaguars were to trade Smith, they would have to "eat" all of his remaining amortization on this year's cap, and that would mean having to re-structure one or more contracts on the team to make room for that accelerated amortization. 4.) If the Jaguars cut Smith they would recover Smith's $2.75 million salary, which would "wash away" Smith's amortization hit this year but would leave the Jaguars with about $5 million in Smith amortization on their '03 salary cap in the form of "dead money." What would I do? I'd attempt to reach a financial arrangement that would satisfy Smith but wouldn't damage the Jaguars' future salary caps. If that financial arrangement couldn't be reached, then I would prepare to bid farewell to one of the best football players I have ever known. The Jaguars could do nothing; leave it up to Smith to continue his holdout or to report and begin being paid his salary. But I'm not crazy about that tactic because I don't think it settles anything. Even worse, it could become a major distraction for a young team that needs to focus on tomorrow, not yesterday. My greatest concern and commitment would be to the Jaguars' salary cap repair and future. In a year when so many players had to be cut in the salary cap repair process, Smith would seem to have picked a bad time to holdout. What makes him any different than Tony Boselli?

Randy Musselwhite from Lexington, SC:
I know you aren't a lawyer, but do the Jaguars have any legal recourse against Jimmy Smith for violating the contract he signed? I agree he may be underpaid but a signed contract is a deal. We all know players hold out for more money, but are you aware of any who have given money back to the team when they have underperformed?
Years ago, Jack Lambert offered to give the Steelers their money back after Lambert suffered a season-ending and career-ending toe injury in the first game of the season. Of course, Lambert knew the Steelers wouldn't accept his offer, so, he really didn't have to worry about losing the money. It made for a good story, though. Randy, you can't force someone to work, but Jimmy Smith's contract prevents him from working for anyone other than the Jaguars.

Rob Banner from Jacksonville:
All this talk about signing a veteran QB; are the Jaguars looking at any kickers after Hayden Epstein hit the center in the back of the head twice?
I think that goes without saying.

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