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Fire your negotiator

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

Eric from Lakeland, FL:
First I'd like to compliment your writings. I'm a daily reader and find your column very insightful. My question pertains to more salary cap quandaries. If a player is making $16 million for one year (I know it's high, but for purposes of easy math I made it this way) in base salary with no bonus amortization, and the team he plays for decides to cut him after week three, how much of a cap hit would the team take? If I apply the "you pay it, you claim it" theory, one would have to say the team would take only a $3 million hit on that year and save $13 million because the player was never paid the $13 million. Is this the way it goes? If not, then would you please elaborate?

Vic: First of all, if your "player" is making $16 million in salary, it's safe to assume he's reached "vested veteran" status, and it's unlikely he's been cut once before during the regular season, so your team will owe him all of his $16 million salary. If you read "Salary Cap 101," you'll remember that a vested veteran gets a one-time full year's salary if he is on his team's roster on opening day. But I'm not going to discourage the scenario you presented, if it helps you understand what "you pay it, you claim it" means. So, if your "player" was a non-vested veteran and you cut him after week three of the regular season, yes, you would save the major portion of his salary, but salary is paid over 17 weeks, not 16. If you cut him by four p.m. on Tuesday of week four of the season, you would save 14 weeks of his salary, which means $13,176,470 would be credited back to your cap. Now, fire your team's contract negotiator, immediately.

Joe from Tallahassee, FL:
How much talking goes on between different teams about possible trades we never hear about?

Vic: A lot.

Jordan from Jacksonville:
Many mock drafts I have seen have Mike Williams dropping fairly far because he runs a 4.6 rather than a 4.5 or a 4.4. How much could a tenth of a second in the 40-yard dash really cost a player in terms of his draft position?

Vic: Fast is good, slow is bad. I began telling fans last week that Mike Williams was falling, and I dropped him significantly on my "Value Board" because the scuttlebutt is the scouts don't like his speed or the fact that at 230 pounds he's heavy-legged and may be more of a tight end than a wide receiver. Williams will not participate in USC's pro day this Wednesday. He will conduct a personal workout for scouts on April 8 in Tampa, at which time Williams will have a chance to answer his critics. If he shows up at a good weight, runs better than expected and turns in an athletic workout, his draft stock will shoot up. We'll have to wait until then.

Carl from Jacksonville:
Hey, Vic, assuming we go with a wide receiver in the first round, what do you think about Marquise Hill (in the second round)? He's a 6-6, 305-pound run-stopper who'd probably look real nice next to the mammoth tackles we currently have. I welcome your views on this.

Vic: Marquise Hill is being projected as a defensive tackle, too, but he's an interesting prospect at left defensive end, which is considered to be the run-stopper side. Hill is not the pass-rusher the Jaguars need, but he's a big-guy prospect who could become a long-term fixture on a team's defensive line. Hill did not workout well at the scouting combine, and that could cause him to fall into the second round, but I'm inclined to believe his size will cause him to be over-drafted. Big guys are always at a premium, and usually a run on big guys occurs at some point in the first round.

Tommy from Jacksonville:
How much interest has Tony Brackens received as a free agent? I've only heard of the trip to New Orleans. Is it possible he will end up back in Jacksonville? Would you take him back?

Vic: As far as I can tell, Tony Brackens has received very little interest in free agency. If that continues to be the case, I would expect Brackens and the Jaguars to begin discussions about re-signing with the team. As I've said several times, those discussions would probably be on a one-year basis. The Jaguars released Brackens with the idea of expiring his $7 million amortization, so the team is not going to take on new amortization in a new contract. If Brackens signed a new contract with the Jaguars, I would expect it to be for one year at a very affordable salary. Of course, a one-year deal means none of the money in it would move onto future salary caps. Before they do that, however, I'd prefer to see what the draft might yield in the way of a defensive end. I don't see any rush to re-sign Brackens.

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