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Great fiction, but cap is for real

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

Tom Howard from Jacksonville:
What changes to the salary cap would you suggest in order to prevent a single player from becoming such a large percentage of the cap that the team can't afford to keep core players? Also, with so many quality players getting cut every year for cap reasons, why has the players union not recommended changes to the cap that will help keep teams together?

Vic: If the players had it their way, there would be no cap. The cap is the owners' way of controlling salaries. Any change to the system would only soften it and cause spending to spiral upward again. The only way to prevent a single player from representing an overwhelming percentage of the cap is for owners not to pay it. Any owner who allows one player to occupy a grossly disproportionate percentage of the salary cap is asking for trouble. That's why Wayne Weaver has held his ground in negotiations with Mark Brunell. This free agency period would appear to indicate owners have learned their lesson. We can only guess at how long that'll last?

Don Hilton from Jacksonville:
I just read "Rude Behavior" by Dan Jenkins, the guy who wrote "Semi-Tough." It is a hilarious book about starting a new football franchise and one part of it deals with the salary cap and ways to get around it. My question is: Wouldn't it be possible for an owner to deposit x-amount of money in a Swiss bank account for a player to get around the cap? I don't think Wayne Weaver would do such a thing but I am not too sure about some of the other owners.

Vic: Jenkins is a great fiction writer, but the salary cap is for real. The 49ers attempted some deceitful tactics and it cost Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark a lot of money and embarrassment. Beyond that, the league is going to flag any contract that doesn't appear to be within the guise of fair-market value.

Ryan Siplon from Jacksonville:
I am aware that the highest compensatory pick that can be awarded is a third-round selection, but is there a limit as to how many of these picks you can actually be given? I know that it is way premature, but it would seem that if all of the Jaguars' free-agent losses this year perform well on their respective teams in the coming season, the Jaguars should see better compensation coming their way in 2002, rather than the three seventh-round picks that they always seem to get. Am I correct on this assumption?


Vic: There is no limit to the number of compensatory picks a team can be awarded. However, Mike Logan is the Jaguars' only loss in free agency to date, therefore, the only loss that would currently apply to next year's compensatory picks awards. Brenden Stai, Brant Boyer, Leon Searcy and Reggie Barlow were all released by the Jaguars prior to the start of free agency, therefore, they do not apply to the rules of compensation. To be considered for compensation, a player must have been on a team's roster at the start of free agency and that player must have been signed by another team after the start of free agency but before June 1. Ben Coleman was not part of the Jaguars' compensatory picks award because he was signed by San Diego after June 1.

Jason Wulfekuhle from Cheyenne, WY:
With the four compensatory picks, do you think the Jaguars will have enough picks in the draft to cover, if not all, most of their needs?

Vic: The Jaguars don't have enough high-round picks for us to expect them to solve all of their needs in this draft, but the four compensatory picks should allow them to address their most major of issues: roster depth.

Matt Kochan from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Thanks to the Jaguars situation, a lot of people are attacking the salary cap. Personally I love the salary cap, since it prevents teams from paying outrageous sums like baseball and basketball teams are. One thing I am wondering, though, is how is the league-wide salary cap determined for each year? How did they come up with the $69 million cap figure for this year?

Vic: The salary cap maximum for 2001 is $67.4 million per team. That figure is 63 percent of the defined gross revenue of the league divided by its 31 teams. In 2002, the percentage-of-the-defined-gross-revenue figure will increase to 63.5 percent, and to 64 percent in 2003. That is the last capped year scheduled, but an extension of the salary cap system is currently being negotiated. The percentage-of-the-gross figure for each year is provided by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the owners and the players union.

Lou Del Bove from Toronto, Canada:
Why is it that the Jaguars fail to put up Indianapolis Colts-like offensive numbers? Don't you think our big three (Brunell, Taylor and Smith) compare to Manning and company? Is it an offensive play-calling philosophy? Will that change this year with a new coordinator?

Vic: There's nothing wrong with the offensive production the Jaguars posted in 2000. When a team has two wide receivers over 90 catches each, a tight end with 60 catches, and a running back with 1,399 yards rushing and 36 catches for 240 yards receiving, the problem isn't offense. The fact of the matter is the Colts had to overcome the same problem the Jaguars did in 2000: a weak defense. That's why they both had disappointing seasons.

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