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Don't spend your money

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Ed from Kansas City, MO:
Vic, what's your taste in shoes?

Vic: Soft spikes.

Daniel from Springfield, MO:
Being with the Steelers for so long I'm sure you knew David Little. With his recent death I was hoping you would make sure people knew he died while lifting weights without a spotter and the bar rolled onto his neck and suffocated him. Please, do not lift weights without a spotter!

Vic: The news of David's death caused me to stop what I was doing and think about him. He was a real good, tough football player who had the misfortune of playing in a down decade for the Steelers. My fondest memory of David is this: At the peak of his career, I interviewed him by telephone for a magazine story I was doing on him. All during the interview I could hear the sound of kids in the background. In fact, it was difficult to hear David's answers and several times he had to stop and ask for quiet. It was the unmistakable sound of a family and a family man. No mood music here. There was nothing hedonistic about David Little. He was a workingman's football player; a football player with whom the average guy could identify. I'm going to crawl under the steps in my house and find the box that has that magazine in it.

Keith from Jacksonville:
Fu (vowel rationing) has a cap hit in 2005 of $915,000 ($665,000 salary plus $250,000 roster bonus). What do you think of the coming storm clouds in the CBA renewal talks or lack thereof?

Vic: Your answer to the Fu question is right. So was everybody else who answered the question and that makes me feel real good. As far as the CBA talks are concerned, don't fret, they'll get it done. The salary cap system works and both sides know it must be continued. I guess the players feel they're far enough removed from 1987 now that they can start to squeeze the owners again.

Mario from Zapata, TX:
As the weeks are going by and the draft is quickly approaching, are the Jags focusing the right cornerback position on the draft or free agency?

Vic: I think it's plainly obvious a permanent fix at the right cornerback position will come from the draft or it won't happen this year. The cornerback crop is very deep in this year's draft. It's hard to imagine a cornerback not being worthy of selection at some point during the first day. There are several corners who appear as though they'd fit where the Jaguars are picking in the first round, and the depth at the position might even cause one or two to fall to the Jaguars in the second round. In what's left in free agency, I expect the Jaguars to sign a second-tier corner who would provide roster depth and service as a "nickel" or "dime" back.

Nate from Tampa, FL:
Your response on Tony Boselli made me think that I never really understood just how great he was. For myself and the other people who might have taken him for granted, could you give me some insight on him as a player and a man?

Vic: I remember Chad Brown once beating Tony Boselli for a sack on a stunt, but I can't remember another one. I know there were a few more, but I can't remember them. That's how good he was. When you played against Tony Boselli, you pretty much resigned yourself to the fact that you were going to be shutout. A personnel guy said to me once that he hated using his best pass-rusher on that side because he knew they'd only be wasting the guy against Boselli. That's what Boselli did for Tom Coughlin. He guaranteed victory at his position. What a luxury that was. It's what every coach wants at every position. As far as Boselli the person, everybody knows I showed favoritism toward him. He was a reporter's dream. He was always available for a comment and I don't feel like he ever gave me garbage. Tony was and I'm sure he still is a football fan. He loved to talk about football. If you didn't go to him, he'd go to you. He is in my Hall of Fame.

Josh from Jamestown, NY:
If you could have one player in the entire league to be on your defense, who would it be?

Vic: Julius Peppers.

William from New Orleans, LA:
This may be a longshot, but any chance the Jaguars could trade Darius for Buffalo's Travis Henry? You said it yourself, the Jaguars need someone to lighten the load for Taylor.

Vic: I don't think Buffalo would be in the market for another $5 million safety.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL:
What do you think of Courtney Brown and are you interested in signing him?

Vic: As I've said, I'm OK with signing Courtney Brown but only at the right price. Once upon a time, he was a big-time talent, but that was five years ago and since then his career has been about injuries. Given that risk, I wouldn't be willing to spend much in the way of bonus money, whether it's signing bonus or roster bonus. This is a great draft for pass-rushers and it's likely one of those "edge" guys will fit for the Jaguars.

Dan from Columbus, NE:
You don't think Robert Gallery is a Tony Boselli-type LT?

Vic: Robert Gallery has yet to play left tackle for the Raiders. He has played guard and he appears to have settled in at right tackle, but I don't care where you put him, he's not Tony Boselli; not even in the same league.

Ben from Rolla, MO:
You're on the clock. There is a quality OT, CB, DE and LB. They all have acquired the same draftable grade from your scouting team. Which one do you pick if the Jags sign Courtney Brown? If they don't?

Vic: Forget about Courtney Brown. At this point in time, he's just a name. He's missed 33 games in four years, so, in my opinion, you'd have to treat him as a bonus player, not as a fixture. Given the other circumstances you've presented, two thoughts would immediately come to my mind: 1) You gotta get the big guys early. 2) What positions are deep enough that it's likely one of their prospects will be the highest-rated player on my board in subsequent rounds? Cornerback, defensive end and outside linebacker are deep positions in this draft. Offensive tackle is not. This is considered to be a three-tackle draft. In the Jaguars' case, the need is for a left tackle who would offer insurance while Mike Pearson is recovering from knee reconstruction, and there are only two left tackles worthy of high selection. If one of those left tackles was available and if I truly had him in a grading tie, then he'd probably be my pick.

Don from Jacksonville:
Watching bits and pieces of the owners meeting that is taking place in Hawaii, it was mentioned that the Pro Bowl could be moved to the week prior to the Super Bowl or even to midseason to act as an All-Star Game. I must be the only one thinking this, but what about injuries?

Vic: I'm with Troy Aikman on this one. Find another way to make money. By the time the Super Bowl is over, the last thing I want to watch is a football game that is played with even less intensity than a preseason game. I can't remember the last Pro Bowl I watched.

Scot from Jacksonville:
I sure love how the Jaguars are doing contracts, like with the Troy Edwards deal you just explained. I figure he'll make the team this year, but if Williams, Hankton and Wilford really shine this year they can cut Edwards after the season and lose nothing. Not to pick on Edwards, I'm just using him as an example of how this team's management is building a long-term winner.

Vic: Thank you so much for getting it. Because of the way the deal is structured, it's completely flat: $1.3 million this year and $1.3 million next year. All of the amortization will be expired after the 2005 season, which means there will be no hostage factor when the Jaguars consider Edwards for their '06 plans. I love what the Jaguars are doing with their salary cap. They are making sure they have flexibility at all times. The cap is set at about $85 million this year, but the smart play is to save about $5 million for operating expenses and for other reasons. As witnessed by what the Jaguars did with the Quinn Gray contract at the end of last season, you can always move the money you've saved into the next year. Why save room? Here's one reason: The Jaguars are heading into an important contract negotiations with Marcus Stroud and you'd like to have the "franchise" tag available so you could use it as a wedge in negotiations. But you gotta have the cap room to use it or the tag becomes worthless. "Franchise" money requires a full hit in the year it's paid and the "franchise" fee for a defensive tackle next year is likely to be between $5-$6 million. If you have the tag and you have the room to use it you'll have the flexibility you'll need to negotiate from a position of strength. Don't spend all your money, folks. When you're broke, you start doing foolish things, like borrowing to pay your bills, which is another way of describing the strategy of re-structuring contracts.

Jose from Jersey City, NJ:
Do you think Carlos Rogers will be there when we pick?

Vic: It might be close, but he'll probably be gone.

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