Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
David from Jacksonville:
Has any team ever signed another team's designated "franchise" player and, therefore, had to pay the two first-round picks price?
Vic: Yeah, Carolina signed Sean Gilbert from Washington in 1998.
Rob from Jacksonville:
What is your take on the QBs being let go this offseason – Warner, Garcia and Bledsoe – in regards to the situation with Garrard possibly being used as trade bait?
Vic: It's all about supply and demand, and a glut of veteran quarterbacks available in free agency would probably lessen the demand for David Garrard. I think Garrard has a brighter future than the veteran quarterbacks you've mentioned, but coaches tend to think in present-tense terms at the quarterback position and the three veterans you've mentioned would probably be considered more attractive in the present than Garrard.
Steve from Orlando, FL:
Does everyone at the combine bench the same weight. How much is it?
Vic: It's 225 pounds and each man is asked to do as many repetitions as possible.
Kevin from Virginia Beach, VA:
If a team does not put the "franchise" tag on a player or re-sign the player before free agency begins, are they allowed to re-sign that player after free agency begins?
Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
Many of the Titans' feature players may be cut to make cap room, including Samari Rolle, Derrick Mason and, probably more importantly for the Jaguars, Kevin Carter, who can play any position on the defensive line. I know the Jaguars don't plan on being major free-agency players this year, but what do you think the odds are that we would go after Carter this offseason?
Vic: Who said the Jaguars don't plan on being major players in free agency? They have the cap room to do it and if the talent available is attractive to them, I would expect the Jaguars to be serious bidders. All of the players you've mentioned would be worth investigating. My inclination is, however, that they've each played their best football and I don't like signing players whose careers aren't in ascent. You're right, however, about the Titans having to cut these guys. Samari Rolle has a $5.5 million salary in 2005 and is due $1 million in bonus money this spring. Rolle's remaining amortization is a whopping $6.627 million and he is scheduled to be an unbelievable $9.813 cap hit. He would represent a significant savings cut but the Titans can't even wait until June to cut Rolle and maximize their savings because he would've earned the bonus money by then. The same situation exists with Kevin Carter, who is due a $2 million roster bonus in March. Derrick Mason is due a $1.5 million bonus. All three have to go and go now, unless the Titans were to get into another re-structuring program that would only push the problem farther into the future. The good news for the Titans is they can do some major repair work on their cap this year by having to gut their roster as significantly as it appears they will, but the repercussions on the field are going to be severe.
Keith from Jacksonville:
What's the problem with trying to get Tony Brackens back? He had six sacks in 2003 with a bum knee. Why can't we just offer him a small amount of money and see if that knee isn't better? Please answer this one. It's hard to find info on old players.
Vic: I'm going to assume you are a young fan who has yet to experience the joy of aging. Let me assure you that at a certain age and after a lengthy career in football, injuries don't get better. Football is a young man's game. Find info on young players.
Todd from Alexandria, VA:
I read that the Redskins are going to release Laveranues Coles. Do you think the Jags should try to sign the hometown product? He seems like the deep threat we covet but is the price too high?
Vic: I don't have any specific information on what the Redskins' plans for Laveranues Coles' future are, but the salary cap numbers don't support a case for cutting him. Coles is due a $1.5 salary in 2005. He has no bonus money owed this year. In 2003 he signed a seven-year contract that included a $13 million signing bonus. Of that amount, $9.3 million of amortization remains. Tomorrow, Feb. 22, is the first day teams may cut players. If the Redskins cut Coles tomorrow he would be a $9.3 million "dead money" hit on the 'Skins '05 cap. Cutting Coles tomorrow would result in a $5.9 million increased hit on the Redskins' cap. Clearly, they can't cut him before June 2 because they can't afford that kind of increased hit. If they cut Coles after June 1, his remaining amortization would be divided into "dead money" hits of $1.9 million in '05 and $7.4 million in '06, so Coles would be a $1.5 savings in '05 but a full $7.4 million drain in '06. How will they be able to take on that dead weight in '06? In my opinion, the Redskins need to stick with Coles and find a way to claim the value they saw in him when they signed him in '03. Don't forget that the Redskins gave up a first-round pick for Coles. How do you cut the guy and not look like a fool?
Daniel from Orlando, FL:
With all the talk on salary caps, what is the dollar amount of the salary cap and does the dollar amount of the cap change from year to year?
Vic: The salary cap for 2005 is $85.5 million. The yearly amount is the result of the players' percentage, as provided by the collective bargaining agreement, of gross revenues. Those two figures change from year to year.
Greg from Winter Park, FL:
What would be the salary cap ramifications for the Chargers if they were to trade Phillip Rivers?
Vic: If they're going to do it, they'll have 10 days to get it done. Phillip Rivers is due a $6.625 option bonus on the 10th day of the league calendar year, March 11th. Interleague trading begins on March 2. Rivers has $6.375 million in remaining amortization. If the Chargers trade him before the option bonus deadline, they would realize a $6.375 million "dead money" hit and a $3.5 million increase on their 2005 cap. If they decide to keep him and pay the $6.625 million option bonus, then they will have $13 million in remaining amortization for a backup quarterback. At that point, it would become clear that Drew Brees would be the quarterback who would have to be traded.
Robert from Jacksonville:
Do you think David Pollack could be in the Jags' mind on trying to pick up a good defensive end? And if so, do you think Pollack could survive in the NFL as a good starting defensive end?
Vic: David Pollack is a top player. I just don't think he's big enough to play defensive end in the NFL. I see him as a 3-4 linebacker. I could be wrong. That's just my opinion. It is not the Jaguars'.
M.J. Duberstein from Washington, D.C. :
As good as your column is, and it is that, please don't use the term "cap casualties." By this time you should know that rarely, if ever, does a club cut a player because his cap number is too high. There are literally (endless) ways of structuring/re-structuring contracts so that if a coach or the front office wants to keep a player they can do it, unless the player himself has so constructed the contract that he has the ability to pull the trigger whether or not he will be on the roster, i.e., through huge early league-year or season roster bonuses or whatever. Otherwise, the cap has become no more than an easy way for club personnel to tell a player he's being cut. Too many front office people I talk to tell me they have never cut a player just for cap reasons and, given that, we don't need to keep up the charade of "cap casualties." Otherwise, I admire the superb job you do explaining a very complicated system. I do recommend that you advise readers about the materials I have on our website, nflpa.org, in the Research Documents area of MEDIA. Best regards, M. J. Duberstein, Director of Research, NFLPA.
Vic: I love abstract thinking and you have clearly given us food for thought. Yeah, if a guy is good enough to warrant keeping, the team is going to find a way to keep him. Peyton Manning is the classic example. So, I agree with you that the issue always comes down to talent. But what about situations such as Tennessee's, where the salary cap has been so unconscionably damaged – and the player took part in that process, too – that the team has no choice but to cut players. If they don't, they won't get under the cap. Should they continue to re-structure, push the money and guarantee that recovery will never occur? I'm not going to fight you on this one because I think, fundamentally, your point is correct, but I'm not going to roll over for you on this one, either, because in most cases I have to believe the player knew what his ultimate fate would be when he allowed his contract to be structured and re-structured to the point of ridiculousness.
Dan from EHT, NJ:
I saw Drew Brees was tagged as an "exclusive franchise player." I was just wondering what's the difference between an "exclusive franchise player" and a "non-exclusive franchise player?"
Vic: An "exclusive franchise player" can't negotiate with other clubs. A "nonexclusive franchise player" can negotiate and any team signing that player must give the player's former team two first-round picks. The "exclusive franchise tag" pays at the average of the top five salaries at the position in the new year; the "nonexclusive" pays at the average of the top five salaries at the position in the previous year. I must caution that the league has yet to officially announce that Brees is an "exclusive franchise player."