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His price is coming down

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

Justin from Jacksonville:
Any realistic chance the Jags could deal Darius to the Saints for Darren Howard? If that came to fruition, how would you grade the move?

Vic: That would make no sense at all. Have you considered how much money you would have tied up on the defensive line? Have you considered that two of those players, Marcus Stroud and Darren Howard, would be on one-year contracts? It's not just about getting the best personnel. It's about making it work on your salary cap. Haven't we learned that, yet, from New England? Acquiring Howard would represent a salary cap and contract disaster.

Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I have been reading your column since the beginning of the 2004 season and now I am hooked. I'm trying to get a read on the Jacksonville community's passion for the Jags. Is it on the rise, about the same, declining?

Vic: I have covered the Jaguars since their first season. In the beginning, I thought Jacksonville's passion for the Jaguars was overrated. Every home game was announced as a sellout, but I remember seeing plenty of empty seats and, frankly, I didn't get a "life or death" feeling about Jaguars games. Even in the Jaguars' Cinderella season of 1996, as the team hit a late-season winning streak that carried them to the AFC title game, they drew 57,408 for a critical game against Cincinnati in December. I can remember thinking to myself that this was a second-year franchise in the hunt for a playoff berth and, late in the game as the rain continued to fall and the Jaguars hung on for a 30-27 win, the building looked empty. Now, I think we have a reverse situation. I think we have a team for which there is genuine passion. There may not be enough fans to fill a 77,000-seat stadium, but the ranks are growing and those within the ranks of Jaguars fans are very intense about the team's fortunes. I see a fan base that is growing in numbers and passion, and I see it in ways other than ticket sales. The explosion of e-mails to "Ask Vic" is one of those barometers. The daily flow of e-mails to this column has become overwhelming, and it seemed to have exploded all at once. There was one game, one week when it happened. It was immediately after the Pittsburgh game this past year. My e-mails doubled and they haven't declined, even in the offseason. That game did something to Jaguars fans. Now, we'll see how it translates to ticket sales in a stadium that has been re-fitted specifically for the size of this market.

Hasso from Jacksonville:
Let me see if I understand your opinion on Plaxico Burress. The longer he stays on the market, the less will be his demand and the less money teams will have to offer, so the less he will cost. The less he costs, the more he fits the Jaguars. If he is still available next week, he would be at an affordable price for the Jags. So when you talk about him fitting the Jags, you are only talking about his salary, because it is all about the salary cap, right?

Vic: That's right. Plaxico Burress is not a premium player, therefore, you don't pay a premium price for him. He's not a good red-zone receiver, isn't a run-after-the-catch guy and drops a lot of balls. At the start of free agency I wrote that the Jaguars should not pursue Burress, and I was flooded by e-mails from people who vehemently disagreed. Well, if you want him, he's still there and he won't cost nearly as much now. He's a 60-catch guy who has some big-play ability. What's that worth? Yeah, all of a sudden Burress is becoming attractive because his price is coming down. It's all about price. What price are you willing to pay? What is that player worth to you? I don't like overpaying, especially for wide receivers.

E.J. from Jacksonville:
After Darius said he wants out of Jacksonville, there has been a lot of rumors of him going to Oakland for Charles Woodson, to New Orleans for Darren Howard, or to Detroit or Minnesota for draft picks. Which trade do you like the most and which one is more likely to happen?

Vic: The Donovin Darius trade rumors have escalated beyond reasonability. We all need to chill out on this. The issue is not what the Jaguars would get in return, the issue is finding a team with whom Darius can negotiate a long-term contract. That's the stumbling block.

Terrence from Jacksonville:
Antrel Rolle at the 21st pick: How big would this be for a team in need of a corner and a return specialist?

Vic: You must mean Esther Rolle because Antrel Rolle will be long gone by the time the 21st pick comes around.

Bill from Toronto, Canada:
What's your take on Holcomb going to Buffalo as a backup to rookie J.P. Losman? Do you see this as a sound football move?

Vic: It makes sense to me. The Bills traded up to draft J.P. Losman in the first round last year, which immediately made him their quarterback of the future. Well, the future is here and it's time for the Bills to move into it. Kelly Holcomb is a security blanket. He's an accomplished veteran quarterback who will cost a lot less than Drew Bledsoe would've cost, and Holcomb may even be an upgrade over Bledsoe. Holcomb is the perfect kind of caretaker to ease a team through a transition period at quarterback, and he's going to be coached by one of the best quarterback-makers in the game today, Mike Mularkey.

Mike from London, Canada:
To expand on the Jorge Cordova question about his rookie/non-rookie status, does that mean it will be year five of his career before he becomes an unrestricted free agent? Also, I'm not familiar with the terms of his contract but if it did expire in three more years, would he be a restricted or unrestricted free agent? Does the loss of a season have any effect on this?

Vic: He didn't get a minimum-wage credit. Theoretically, if Jorge Cordova was cut and claimed by another team, that team could pay him at the rate of the rookie minimum wage. That's what he lost by not playing last season; he lost a year toward minimum-wage credit. The year he spent on injured reserve counts toward free agency, however, so he is on schedule to become a restricted free agent in two more years and an unrestricted free agent in three more years. He signed a three-year contract with the Jaguars and now two years remain on that deal.

James from Hernando, MS:
For some reason I seem to be angry at the Jags for only making one move in free agency. Do you think I am being unreasonable?

Vic: In my opinion, you should be encouraged that the Jaguars have only made one big signing during free agency. More than ever, I'm convinced free agency is a trap. The best teams are the ones that discipline their spending. The Jaguars have.

Ryan from Atlanta, GA:
Could you compare Miami's signing of Kevin Carter to the Jaguars getting Reggie Hayward? At first glance it looks like we got a younger player for less money.

Vic: Here's what's interesting: The Dolphins are a team in need of major reconstruction, yet, they have spent big on a veteran defensive end who is probably at the end of his career. The Jaguars are a team on the verge of making the playoffs, yet, they have spent big on a young defensive end who is more about what he will do than what he has done. Whatever it takes, right? Just make it work.

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