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Good year for centers, guards

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

James from Jacksonville:
Vic, I know the buzz around Jacksonville seems to be nothing but excitement and anxiousness. Do you know if any other cities are buzzing about Jacksonville's new look, coaching and player additions, or do they still see Jacksonville as just a franchise rebuilding?

Vic: I've gotten calls from writers I know who were perplexed by the Jaguars' rash of free-agency spending. The comments went something like this: "I thought the Jaguars had salary cap problems;" and "Didn't they learn their lesson?" The Jaguars have caught a lot of people by surprise, and it will be even more surprising to people who thought the Jaguars were in a rebuilding year if the team is a playoff contender this season.

Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
Who do you believe is the best player in the draft who will be available at the eighth pick?

Vic: I continue to hold out hope cornerback Terence Newman will fall to the Jaguars. Newman will be a 25-year-old rookie, which might turn off a few teams ahead of the Jaguars. He was the best player I saw in college football last season. If Newman is not available, you might begin looking at players such as offensive tackle Jordan Gross, cornerback Marcus Trufant, guard Eric Steinbach, quarterback Byron Leftwich and others.

Eric from Birmingham, AL:
What is the status of T.J. Slaughter's contract?

Vic: T.J. Slaughter is a restricted free agent who is unlikely to be signed by another team because they would have to compensate the Jaguars with a third-round draft choice. The restricted free agency signing period ends on April 18. I expect, at that time, Slaughter will be securely in the Jaguars' fold. He has yet to sign the Jaguars' one-year tender.

Fred from Portland, OR:
Will you please explain Taylor's new 2003 cap hit in detail, including how much is counting toward incentives and how much his new signing bonus hit is?

Vic: Fred Taylor had one year remaining on his Jaguars contract when he agreed to a four-year extension last Friday. The new deal includes an $8 million signing bonus, the amortization of which is $1.6 million a year, beginning in 2003. The final year of Taylor's original contract included $1.274 million of remaining amortization, $816,248 in salary, a $500,000 roster bonus due on May 1 and $1 million in "Likely To Be Earned" incentives. He was scheduled to be a $3.6 million hit on the Jaguars' '03 salary cap, but he will be slightly less than that following a re-structuring of the '03 portion of his contract. Taylor will earn $530,000 in salary this season; $780,000 was moved from this year and into 2004, to accommodate Taylor's increased amortization figure this year. The contract is heavily incentivized, with Taylor able to earn about $2.6 million in incentive money in each year of the contract. Those incentives include a 45-man roster bonus and aggressive milestones for rushing or combined rushing and pass-receiving achievements.

Dave from St. Augustine, FL:
I was scanning through the Jags' latest roster listing. It is starting to look more impressive than what I expected, but I do not see the offensive line being built up and getting good support with quality/experienced backups. Do the Jags have anything in mind for beefing up the offensive line? Brunell will need all the protection he can get if he is to last through the season.

Vic: Dave, if you addressed all of your needs in free agency, you'd quickly fall into salary cap trouble. They'll have to address their offensive line needs in the draft. This is considered to be an especially good year for centers and guards.

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