Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Keith from Jacksonville:
In the case of Donovin Darius, why can't the Jags, as part of a trade, agree to pay part of his salary? For the sake of argument, why can't the Jags trade with Detroit where Darius goes to Detroit for a third-round pick and the Jags agree to pay $3 million of the $4.1 million salary? The Jags get a valuable draft pick and a lost distraction for their money; the Lions get a reduced-cost look at Darius, which would make them happy. If other teams didn't trade for Darius because the high contract scared them off, why can't the Jags take some of the hit to make a trade work?
Vic: You're missing the big issue in all of this, which is that Donovin Darius would still be dissatisfied with his "franchise" salary. It's not that Darius wants to leave Jacksonville, it's that he wants a new contract. That's what's scaring off other teams. They don't want to trade for a dissatisfied player, and all of the teams who aren't trading for Darius are telling him they don't think he's worth the kind of contract he wants. As far as trading him to another team with the agreement to pay part of his salary, that's something the commissioner would probably flag because it would involve one team paying a portion of another team's salary cap, and that flies in the face of the spirit of the cap. However, it would be very easy to maneuver around that stumbling block and accomplish the same thing you're suggesting. All the Jaguars would have to do is work a trade that would include a new deal with Darius that would require the Jaguars to pay Darius a roster bonus before the trade was consummated. That would be, in effect, the same as paying a portion of his salary to play for another team. But from where I sit, that's bad business. Instead of all these shenanigans, maybe it's just better to let the guy go in free agency. I'm not big on the "franchise" and "transition" tags. They seldom work to the team's advantage, and even when they do they seem to create irreparable enmity between the player and the team.
Anissa from Jacksonville:
Can Donovin sit out this year and, if so, does he still get paid? If he was so unhappy with the franchise tag, then why sign the contract?
Vic: He can sit out the year but he wouldn't be paid. His leverage in the situation is that his $4.1 million salary became guaranteed the moment he signed the tender. The Jaguars can not cut him without paying him that full amount. That's why he signed the tender; it protected him. It put the pressure on the Jaguars to trade him or pay him. Had he not signed the tender, they could've cut him without paying the salary. Vic from Springfield, VA:
Is the salary cap use-it-or-lose-it each year? In other words, if a team does not use all of its available space in a given year, does it roll over into the next year? After having signed a restricted free agent to an offer sheet, when is the earliest that contract can be re-structured? When can the team re-work the contract to change the performance bonuses to a signing bonus to free up cap space?
Vic: Salary cap space does not carry over from one year to the next. As far as re-structuring the contract of a player who was acquired as a restricted free agent, the Collective Bargaining Agreement forbids the team to re-structure or re-negotiate that player's salary or any other money that counts against the salary cap until the day after the trading deadline. Also, after a contract has been re-structured, it can not be re-structured again for a period of one year. Don't try to be cute with the cap. If the Jaguars have taught us anything, it's that re-structuring contracts is a formula for disaster. Make a deal, live by the deal. Freeing up cap space is usually another way of saying ruining your future.
Mike from Orange Park, FL:
Why did the Jaguars tell Darius not to attend the mini-camp?
Vic: It was Jack Del Rio's request of Donovin Darius that he not attend the Jaguars' mini-camp this past weekend, if Darius was going to remain an absentee at the team's offseason conditioning program. Del Rio's stance is that he doesn't want Darius to re-join the team until he is ready to completely re-join the team. In my opinion, that strategy went a long way toward creating the kind of energy and genuine enthusiasm that prevailed at this past weekend's mini-camp. Discontent is not a positive emotion and usually results in having created a distraction.
Chad from Jacksonville:
Do you think the Jaguars will trade Donovin Darius and, if so, to what team?
Vic: How about the Cowboys? They have the salary cap room, Bill Parcells likes older players and my understanding is the Cowboys showed some interest in Darius on draft weekend. By the way, I hope everybody got their fill of Darius questions and answers today. I probably get 20 e-mails a day asking, "Do you think the Jaguars will trade Donovin Darius?" The answer is easy: Yeah, as soon as they find a team that wants him. Figure it out, folks. It's not that difficult.