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Free agency, the salary cap, and stadium construction...

Pete Carlstedt from Jacksonville, FL:
With all the cuts of the Jaguars, what about Bryan Barker? We heard that he was going to be released because of his salary.

Vic: Bryan Barker is an unrestricted free agent. I think the Jaguars' dire salary cap situation makes it easily understandable why they can't spend more than minimum wage on a punter.
 

Mark Plotner of Green Cove Springs, FL:
Brunell is a very good quarterback. No doubt one of the best in the league. But is he worth half of the starting lineup? i thought football was a "team sport". Teams change quarterbacks all the time and seem to still be competitive. Everyone acts like if we lost Brunell we will never go to the superbowl. But wasn't it Brunell who threw away our first chance of a superbowl to New England in the final seconds of the game. and wasn't it Brunell who threw the interceptions againist Tennessee to make us lose in our first AFC championship at home. I think Weaver might want to reconsider his options.

Vic:


Blaming Brunell for players having to be cut is unfair. The Jaguars spent a lot of money on unproductive players. Brunell has been the Jaguars' most productive player since the team's inaugural season. Consider ways in which cap money has been wasted. For example, Bryce Paup will be a $3.6 million cap hit this season. Is Brunell to blame?

 

R

obert Bloch from Neptune Beach, FL:
With the CBA up for renewal soon enough, I have a proposal for the NFL to think about in the future concerning the salary cap. The problem is I don't know how or two whom to suggest it. So I guess I'll try to run it by you...

1 --- Keep the cap, but create a new "uncapped" players category. Allow teams to keep 11 players in it. These players' salaries would be completely exempted from the salary cap...
2 --- With the "uncapped" eleven in place, you can eliminate the franchise and transition player tags. They are horrible and nasty and create hostility.
3 --- Lower the cap and players' share of the GDR down. With the "uncapped 11" you can lower the salary cap. It will still be interesting, just not
as impossible to manage payroll.

This isn't a perfect proposal and it needs more review, but it is a pretty neat idea? Could you ponder it or pass it along?

Vic: The players union would love your plan. It would certainly result in higher salaries and signing bonuses. However, that's not the intent of having a salary cap. The intent is to control spending so that the game is affordable to the fan. Let me bounce this idea off you. The cap is our friend. Live by it.
 

Mark Snavely from Boca Raton, FL:
For transition and franchise players - what is the definition of a players "position"? Many players play more than one position either due to injury of another player or because he can make contributions on both sides of the ball.

Vic:
The definition of a player's position is obvious, other than in special circumstances. Carnell Lake was a special circumstances example when he was with the Steelers. Though he had been a strong safety all of his career, he was moved to cornerback in an emergency situation that existed most of that season. So, what would have been considered to be his true position, strong safety or cornerback? Bear in mind, cornerbacks make a lot more money than safeties. It's an issue the league would've had to decide, as far as whether or not Lake would've been paid the average of the top five (franchise) salaries or top 10 (transition) salaries in the league.
 

Danny from Fernandina Beach, FL:
When are the Jaguars going to start adding on to the south end zone?

Vic: Plans are to add luxury suites to the south end of Alltel Stadium for the 2005 Super Bowl. There are no plans to increase the seating capacity. The start of construction is not in the near future.
 

John Andreoli of Orange Park, FL:
I do not understand why there is so much gloom and doom for this upcoming season if we can keep big searce and Brunell and Keenan. If and I know thsi is a big IF the team stays healthy and has a good draft they should be contenders? Do you agree or disagree with that?

Vic:


I agree with you, as long as all of the answers to the Jaguars' questions come up positive. The core of the team has been retained, and it is a strong core of players at the skill positions, but we all have to have a degree of concern for the effects of the Jags' salary cap situation: Players will be lost in free agency, and possibly none will be added. The Jaguars will almost certainly have to have a blockbuster draft to be a playoff contender in the NFL's best division, and in an AFC that is returning to 1970's standards. Doom and gloom? No. Reservations? Yes.

 

Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
What would the cap hit be for the 2001 season if Kevin Hardy is traded or released? Would trading him to San Francisco or Carolina for their first round pick make sense if Dan Morgan is still on the board when those teams pick? (This savings would then allow the Jaguars to possibly re-sign Leon Searcy and then they could use their regular first round pick on Santana Moss or a lineman on either side of the ball.) A LB corps of Nickerson, Slaughter, Morgan, Clark, and possibly Boyer (or Storz) would be great. I'm not trying to be Anti-Hardy. I think he is one of the best in the league but we cannot afford to keep him. Keeping Nickerson and Hardy just does not appear to be an option. To select Morgan would be a move made with an eye definitely looking toward the future.

Vic: Kevin Hardy would represent a $2.2 million salary cap savings in 2001, if he was traded or released. According to his current contract, he is a $4.5 million hit on the 2001 salary cap. Of that $4.5 million, $2.3 million is amortized bonus money and $2.2 million is salary. The $2.3 must stay on the books; the $2.2 would be extinguished if he was traded or released.
 

John Andreoli of Orange Park FL:
I was wondering do you see a new development in the Brunell negotiations? Favre and Bledsoe have recently signed long term (10 yr) deals which really are designed to make future cap hits less traumatic. The Jags have been looking for a 5 year deal? Could this change with the latest signings? Will Brunell be the first $100 Million Jaguar?

Vic: Total dollar amounts are meaningless if the vast majority of the money is back-loaded salary. Signing bonus money is what commits a team to a player and, in the process, determines the hit on future salary caps. Expect new developments soon, since reports are the Patriots have signed Drew Bledsoe to a new deal. Of course, Bledsoe, like Brunell, is a Leigh Steinberg client. The Bledsoe deal will have a major impact on what happens between Brunell and the Jaguars. At this point in time, with teams such as Seattle, Tampa Bay and Baltimore having acquired quarterbacks in the past few days, it would seem the market for quarterbacks has shrunk and the pendulum in negotiations may have swung to the Jaguars' side.
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