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Don't swing for the fence

Join Senior Editor O'Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions on St. Patrick's Day.

O'Ed from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What happens when a player is under contract for a season but decides to sit out that whole year (like Abraham is threatening to do to the Jets)? How does that count against the cap? Also, does that year a player sits out count as a year in a multi-year contract?

O'Vic: A player under contract who elects not to play forfeits his salary for that season. The years remaining on his contract remain the same and he is not credited with having added an accrued season. The team would have his salary credited back to their salary cap. John Abraham hasn't signed the Jets' "franchise" tender, therefore, he is not under contract.

O'Kelvin from Warwick, UK:
Reading your comments on what positions the Jags need to address, I was surprised that a tight end wasn't included. Don't you think that considering the offensive shortcomings of last season, an alternative passing option to Jimmy Smith would perhaps help Leftwich, and someone like Heath Miller could improve the offense rather than concentrating purely on the defense and yet another number two receiver?

O'Vic: If the Jaguars can find a tight end who can do for them what Antonio Gates did for the Chargers, I'd be all for drafting him, signing him, kidnapping him or whatever else it took to get him. I am not, however, big on the tight end position. In other words, I don't like spending high picks on tight ends unless they are truly special players. I still believe in the old-school credo that the tight end is your worst receiver and your worst blocker. The Chargers found Gates in undrafted free agency. Is he really a tight end or is he just another wide receiver who lines up as a tight end? When I think of a tight end, I think of guys like John Mackey, who blocked you to the ground at the line of scrimmage and ran over you in the secondary. Find one like him and I'll be all for drafting him in the first round.

O'Dave from Columbus, IN:
In your opinion, who is more of a dominating force, John Henderson or Marcus Stroud?

O'Vic: It depends on what they had for breakfast.

O'Ryan from Jacksonville:
Are the Jags not spending big money because they are saving it for Marcus Stroud and other important players?

O'Vic: They've got enough salary cap room to do that and sign other players, too. The reason they're not spending recklessly in free agency is because they don't want to wreck their salary cap. They did that once before by signing too many free agents. They have assigned values to those players in free agency and they are adhering to those values. It's about the right player at the right price. I honestly believe a team will never regret money it didn't spend because there is an endless supply of talent that streams into the league. But a team will horribly regret money spent poorly because it brought a bad player onto the roster and it restricts the team's ability to replace him. Money spent unwisely can be a double hit.

O'Cary from St. Simons Island, GA:
I have to say you are doing a wonderful job. I've never been so interested in the offseason before. I want to know how Burress' recent change of agents will affect his chances of coming to Jacksonville? I mean, isn't it getting close for us to be interested?

O'Vic: The Jaguars have a very good relationship with Drew Rosenhaus, who is also Fred Taylor's and Marcus Stroud's agent. I don't know whether that will produce interest from the Jaguars in Plaxico Burress, but I think he's a player worth investigation. My instincts tell me, however, that the Jaguars have a wide receiver or two targeted in the draft and want to see if one of those guys might be available where they have him graded to go in the draft. The fact that the Jaguars re-signed Troy Edwards might indicate the Jaguars aren't real interested in going for a somewhat pricey fix at the position in free agency.

O'Jonathan from King George, VA:
Which college system do you think is the most exciting between the Bowl Championship Series and "March Madness?"

O'Vic: Without a doubt, it's "March Madness." The NCAA basketball playoffs is what a college football playoff system would be if the NCAA had the guts to dump the outdated and laughable bowl system it uses to determine a champion.

O'Luis from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I must not be an ordinary fan. I welcome Darius back because I know he will perform as well or better than last season. It's easy to understand Darius if you can think as a professional athlete. Now, do you think the Jaguars can match the contract that Darren Sharper signed with the Vikings? Would Donovin be happy with the same deal?

O'Vic: The Jaguars already have matched the money Darren Sharper got with the Vikings. Sharper signed a four-year deal that paid him a $4 million signing bonus. He will earn a $1 million in salary this year, which means his total take in 2005 is going to be $5 million. That's what the "franchise" tag will pay Donovin Darius this season and, at the end of the year, he'd become a free agent again and would be able to negotiate a better deal. Darius is seeking a much bigger contract than the one Sharper got from the Vikings.

O'Jay from Jacksonville:
Do you think the Jaguars have targeted a specific player for the first round or are they content to simply wait for their pick and choose the best player available?

O'Vic: All teams target players. The Jaguars will have one or two players in their sights when draft day rolls around. Then it becomes a matter of whether or not those players are available when it's the Jaguars' turn to pick, and will they be the highest-rated players on the board at that time.

O'Andy from Jacksonville:
Off the subject, you have seen many quarterbacks over your career and I'd like your thoughts on Dan Fouts. He was one of my favorite growing up but he is rarely mentioned among the best. It seems like a shame there was never any defense to go with that offense.

O'Vic: Dan Fouts was the Peyton Manning of his time. He never could win the big game. Fouts lost in the playoffs in four consecutive years and it wasn't the defense that was the problem in those games. The most devastating of those losses, in my opinion, was in the 1979 playoffs. The Chargers lost at home, 17-14, to a Houston team that was without Earl Campbell and Dan Pastorini. Fouts was intercepted five times in that game. Had the Chargers won, they would've hosted the Steelers the following week in the AFC title game. A year later, the Chargers lost at home to the Raiders, 34-27, in the AFC title game. Fouts threw two interceptions. The following season, Fouts lost to Ken Anderson and the Bengals in the AFC title game in Cincinnati, 27-7, in what was one of the coldest games in NFL history. Fouts was intercepted twice. In the 1982 playoffs, Fouts threw five interceptions in the Chargers' 34-13 loss in Miami. That's 14 interceptions in four playoff losses. Blame the defense? Fouts was a great regular-season quarterback. He was one of the most feared passers in history, but he couldn't get it done when it counted.

O'Kamal from Novi, MI:
Do you think it's wise for the Jags to maintain a very healthy salary cap like we have now and remain one player away for the next five years, or would you like the team to swing for the fence and sign that one player in the next couple of years, trying to win the Super Bowl, while unfortunately sacrificing some health of the cap?

O'Vic: What makes you think you have to swing for the fence? What makes you think you have to ruin your salary cap to win the Super Bowl? The Patriots have won three in the last four years and they haven't swung for the fence or ruined their cap.

O'David from Oviedo, FL:
Over the past few years, the Jaguars have toyed around with uniform colors for home and away games. Are we set now or are there more changes on the horizon?

O'Vic: I'm not a fashion kind of guy. My side of the closet is a series of khaki cotton pants and Oxford shirts. They go with everything, including my blue blazer, which you can wear all of the time and nobody says anything, but if you wear a pin-striped suit twice in a month people look at you as though you stole it off a stiff. So, I don't feel real comfortable commenting on uniforms because I know people laugh behind my back about what I wear. Lageman, in fact, has even insulted me to my face a couple of times, but I'm too much of a gentleman to poke fun at the stupid shirt with the picture of a fish on it that he wore to last night's radio show. I have to say, however, that I don't like the Jaguars' uniforms. I like uniforms that you can wear forever; uniforms that allow you to establish an identity and tradition. That's my idea of a good uniform; one that says who you are. The problem I have with the Jaguars uniform is that it's trendy and I think it'll undergo periodic change. I'd like the Jaguars to settle on a color scheme and a uniform design and wear it forever. Frankly, I'd like to see them wear khaki pants.

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