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He'll be long gone

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Mike from Monroe, NJ:
We all know you don't like old free agents but what do you think about signing Mike Alstott for one year? He can still move the pile and get you a touchdown in the red zone.

Vic: Come on.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
In your opinion, would the TV networks prefer an uncapped product? I think they would love to have 5-6 big-market teams they could promote from week to week. Is that a better plan?

Vic: I can't imagine a league of distinct haves and have-nots would benefit TV. Under the current arrangement, the TV networks are responsible for televising all NFL games. Why would TV want 75 percent of those games to be meaningless? That's my opinion. There are a lot of people who don't agree. A lot of people point to the 1970's, which was a period of intense haves and have-nots, yet the game was never better. The TV ratings, especially for prime-time games, were through the roof and the stadiums were full. You might be right, but I think the climate has changed so dramatically since the '70's that the way things were then wouldn't produce the same results now. How can we argue with the intense popularity the NFL has achieved since then? We have become a nation that literally couldn't do without pro football in the fall. In my opinion, that says the current method of operation is just fine.

Matt from Gainesville, FL:
If teams have to be under the cap by tomorrow, how do they still have money to sign their draft picks? Is this money built in already?

Vic: You're talking about a rookie pool. It is not built in. Most teams provide room for their rookie pool when the league year begins, but you're not required to do that. You're only required to be under the salary cap with the players you have under contract, so, as you sign your draft class, each player has to fit under the cap.

Pat from St. Augustine, FL:
Do you think you could provide a short list of bargain free agents that would be a good buy for us?

Vic: How could I do that? We don't even know who those free agents are. Without a new CBA, the free-agent market is going to be flooded by cap casualties and you're going to see bargain free agents all over the place. Should the CBA be extended, those players won't flood the market and, frankly, without those cap casualties included, this year's free-agent class would appear to be rather weak. Almost everything about the NFL is hinging on an extension of the CBA, which is hinging on a revenue-sharing agreement. That's why I said right from the beginning, it's not about a CBA, it's about revenue-sharing. As soon as the owners agree to a revenue-sharing strategy, they'll have a CBA and life will go back to normal.

John from Atlantic Beach, FL:
What is the percentage of outside revenue that a team takes in (like team merchandise, etc.) vs. ticket sales revenue?

Vic: Those percentages would vary from team to team and they are really unimportant because a new CBA will share all football revenue with the players. Under the current CBA, local revenue is not shared with the players, which means local revenue does not impact the salary cap. A new CBA will absolutely include local revenue as money to be shared with the players and that means local revenue will drive each team's salary cap higher. That's called player costs and teams with high local revenue will pass those costs on to all teams, including those with low local revenue. So Wayne Weaver would ask, why should I have to share your costs if I can't share your revenue? That question is at the heart of the whole problem the league is facing in Dallas today. The small-market/low-revenue owners wanna know why they have to share the large-market/high-revenue teams' costs but can't share their revenue. When the NFL can produce 24 owners who believe local revenue should be shared, we'll have a new CBA.

Patrick from Billings, MT:
If there is an agreement on the CBA, will this allow the Colts to re-sign Edgerrin James?

Vic: Yes.

Jason from Portland, OR:
You mentioned coaches want players with toughness. How do they determine that? What about how smart the player is concerning schemes?

Vic: I said I want players with toughness. I assume most coaches also want that and the way coaches find out about a player's toughness and his intelligence is by talking to his college coaches. By and large, the player's coaches will give the NFL scouts accurate information on the kid. If he's soft or struggles to learn schemes, they'll tell them.

Jim from Jacksonville:
Why did the first three teams fail in LA and why will the next team succeed? What's different now?

Vic: Forget about the Chargers. That was 1960 and the AFL was largely considered to be a minor league product at that time. The New York Titans was one of the AFL's worst franchises but nobody said New York was a bad football town. Why did the Rams and Raiders fail in Los Angeles? The answer is simple: The LA Coliseum is a terrible facility and LA would not agree to provide the kind of stadium those teams needed. Why will a new team in LA succeed? The answer is simple: The new team in LA will have a state-of-the-art, NFL-caliber stadium in which to play, or there won't be a new team in LA.

Nathan from Mesa, AZ:
One shot.

Vic: That's right, one shot. I also like single elimination and sudden death overtime. One shot, baby, one shot.

Fred from Portland, OR:
Are you sure current amortization will not be prorated over the length of the new CBA once we get one in place? I thought it did.

Vic: Fred, do you think I'd lie to you? If you do a deal with a player before the CBA is extended, the signing bonus in that deal may not be amortized beyond 2009 and you can't change that proration. This is not a time to do new contracts if you don't have the room over the next four years to house the amortization.

Anthony from Edmond, OK:
Anwar Philips is a name that is being thrown around a lot on the Jags site. How did he do at the combine?

Vic: Phillips declined to work out at the combine. There are concerns about his speed and that'll probably drop him into the second round, which might make him a very attractive prospect. He's a big guy with good ball skills. One cornerback who impressed the Jaguars at the combine is Antonio Cromartie, who missed all of last season after ACL surgery in July. On just seven months of rehab, Cromartie ran a 4.4 at the combine in what was judged to have been an impressive workout. He declined to do the cone drill, however, which might send a message to teams that Cromartie is not confident enough in his recovery to stop and go on that knee. Florida State will conduct its pro day next Wednesday. The Jaguars will be there and will no doubt have their eye on Cromartie. He could be a steal at 28 but you'd have to be willing to accept the risk that accompanies a guy coming off ACL surgery.

Mark from Savannah, GA:
Every free agent available isn't a reject and this deal should have already been done. Because it wasn't, it delayed me purchasing my season tickets.

Vic: You want me to believe that you won't buy season tickets until you know who the Jaguars have signed in free agency? You're putting way too much emphasis on the importance of free agency.

Greg from Notre Dame, IN:
Every player on your team cannot be a young player. Name one team that has 22 starters under the age of 30. Your stop-gap players might not be good for the future, but you need them to win, which is why free agency is so important.

Vic: Guard is a good place for a stop-gap player. Kickers, punters, safeties can be stop-gap players. Cornerback is a premium position and after two seasons of stop-gap measures at that position that left the team having to solve it all over again, I think it's time to fix it for good.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
According to the latest figures in the fan poll, roughly 52 percent of those who voted think the Jags should go for offense in the upcoming draft. Only about 30 percent believe in best available player. What does this tell us, Vic?

Vic: It tells us fans want to win now. I can appreciate that, but I think fans need to understand that these personnel guys are saddled with the responsibility of providing players who are worthy of the money they are going to be paid. Drafting good players is the mandate, always. If you draft from the total pool of players available, instead of from the pool of players at only one position, your odds of success greatly increase.

Jason from Hagerstown, MD:
Were there any players that stood out at the scouting combine?

Vic: Maryland tight end Vernon Davis is this year's combine sensation. Davis ran a 4.3-something, did 33 reps at 225 pounds and was an overall knockout in combine workouts. He'll be long gone by the time the Jaguars pick at 28.

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