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Don't spend wildly

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

Steve from Maitland, FL:
Where do the Jaguars stand in the revenue rankings?

Vic: The Jaguars were in the 23-24 range in 2005.

Kelvin from Warwick, UK:
Is the incremental revenue-sharing pool, which looks like it will start at $45 million, remain sufficient to cover the above 65 percent costs the low-revenue teams will have in 4-6 years from now?

Vic: The incremental revenue-sharing pool will average out at $120 million a year. It has three funding components but they will not contribute equally. The top 15 revenue teams will contribute $30 million a year. The major contributor is expected to be new business in the national revenue category.

Brian from Orange Park, FL:
I love your insight to the nuts and bolts of the game. Under the new CBA and revenue-sharing plan, what is to stop any small-market team from fielding a competitive team in lieu of being very profitable?

Vic: Their will to win. Some teams have been in a financial situation that has forbidden them from pursuing winning as fully as they'd like. Cincinnati was in that position through the 1990's. Then the Bengals got a new stadium and the revenue that goes with it and all of a sudden they're back in the playoffs. The 65-percent limit may have the same effect.

Nick from Jacksonville:
Aren't you getting tired of reading and answering all these e-mails? Some are even disrespectful. Why do you even do this daily and in the offseason?

Vic: The short answer is it's my job. The long answer is that I enjoy the give and take with the fans and I'm curious to know what issues intrigue the fans. "Ask Vic" has a lot of high-class and football-smart readers. There's another easy answer to why I enjoy doing this, and to get that answer all you have to do is go to the "Ask Vic" golf tournament.

Jacob from La Crescenta, CA:
How much damage will the Colts take because of their cap, even though there was an agreement?

Vic: They can keep everybody they want by re-structuring contracts and pushing money out. That's the major impact of the CBA extension for the Colts. It's not just the extra $7 million in cap room they got, it's the extra year of proration and the elimination of the "30 percent rule" that will allow them to be as creative as they need to be to keep the players they want to keep. The question is how much more of their future will they mortgage to keep their roster intact? Their future is what's being damaged. At some point, and it happens to all teams that mortgage future caps, you're going to have players on your cap who are no longer on your roster. That's called "dead money" and that's what gets you.

Mike from Jacksonville:
So without local revenue-sharing, maxing-out local revenue will still be a top priority for the Jags? Things like club seat sales, concessions, advertising and direct merchandise sales will still be the defining point of whether the team will stay in Jacksonville for the long haul or bolt to LA?

Vic: I'm not going to hang that LA thing over the fans' heads because I don't think that threat is imminent. I will tell you, however, that the Jaguars' ability to drive sales will go a long way toward securing the team's future. I think that's fair.

Mike from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Regardless of what the cap number is, won't teams always be protected if they structure all contracts with the first year being the largest hit on the cap? Am I oversimplifying this?

Vic: You're oversimplifying it a bit because you shouldn't completely mortgage the present for the sake of the future, either. The technique you're describing is known as "prepaying on the cap" and the Eagles popularized it. When your team appears to be in a down period, it's a good time to move money forward by, for example, paying roster bonus instead of signing bonus. The Jaguars have done a lot of that in Jack Del Rio's first three years as coach and that's the prime reason the Jaguars have as much cap room as they do right now. At some point, however, you have to take advantage of the room you've provided. You do that when you believe your team is in an up period and a player here or there could put you over the top. The charm of the pre-paying technique is that it allows you to take a "swing" at a top player or two without wrecking your future. If that player or players were a bad decision, what you've wrecked is your past.

Chris from Jacksonville:
With the new CBA, the Redskins and Colts are let off the hook again. When does the cap catch up to either of them?

Vic: As I said, the cap catches up to you when you have players on your cap who aren't on your roster. As your "dead money" grows, so do your losses mount.

Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What was the final resolve of the cash over cap issue?

Vic: The new CBA provides for a system that will encourage teams to spend at a rate of two percent cash over cap. Why? The players union negotiated that into the CBA because, well, they want more money. They want to encourage teams to spend. Last year, the league did not spend cash over cap. Teams are becoming better cap managers and the players union saw a possible trend developing that it wanted to discourage. So, if your cash-over-cap spending is less than two percent in any year, that dollar amount will be divided by 32 and that amount will be added to each team's salary cap in the next year. Don't forget, salary cap money isn't just play money, it's real money and owners are not looking to increase their costs. The owners gave in on the two percent demand but negotiated in a stipulation that would discourage teams from spending wildly. If a team spends more than two percent cash over cap, they will have that dollar amount subtracted from their next year's cap, but only if the league as a whole spends more than two percent cash over cap. The Redskins, for example, could spend five percent cash over cap and not suffer a penalty if the league didn't spend more than two percent cash over cap.

James from Kamloops, BC:
I agree with you 100 percent that this is a young man's game, but please don't tell us that Willie McGinest can't still be an effective player in the right system.

Vic: So, it's a young man's game except for the old man you like.

James from Jacksonville:
I was watching on ESPN that the Vikings are trying to trade Daunte Culpepper before the free agency period begins. I thought it was a rule that you can't make trades until after the free agency period begins?

Vic: You can talk trade all you want but you can't execute a trade until 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, at which point all teams must be under the salary cap. First, you have to get under the cap, then you can trade.

Brian from Fredericksburg, VA:
With the deal done and the salary cap $17 million above last year's cap how much money are the Jags able to work with this offseason?

Vic: The Jaguars will go into free agency about $23 million under the salary cap. That figure does not provide for a rookie pool, which is expected to be about $4 million for the Jaguars this year.

Jonas from Jacksonville:
Now that free agency is going to begin, who is that guy the Jags must get?

Vic: I don't think you should ever go into free agency desperate to sign a guy. If you go shopping with that attitude, you'll almost certainly overspend. I think teams should go into free agency with a buyer's beware mentality. The Jaguars need a cornerback and a linebacker. Most people think they also need help in their interior offensive line and I think they need help at running back. If players available at those positions are judged to be affordable upgrades, then go for it. Just don't get wild with your spending. That would be my advice to any team.

Mack from Jacksonville:
Under the new CBA, what are the rules to the franchise tag now?

Vic: Everything stays the same except if you hit a guy with the franchise tag for a third time, you have to pay him the average of the top five salaries in the league, not the average of the top five salaries at his position.

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