Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Rob from Richmond, VA:
Based on your answer of approximately 51,000 tickets sold, doesn't that put the Jags in a blackout mode for every home game next year?
Vic: The Jaguars blackout number next season will be about 49,000. Only general-bowl seating applies to the blackout number. As you read in yesterday's "Ask Vic," about 11,000 general-bowl seats (including 5,000 group sales seats) remain to be sold. That's all you need to know. That's how many seats, about 11,000, the Jaguars have to fill to beat the blackout. With about six months before the regular season begins, I think that's do-able. At this time last year, the Jaguars had to sell about 23,000 season tickets to beat the blackout.
Roger from Jacksonville:
From a Washington newspaper article: "The Redskins will spend more than 25 percent of their salary cap next season on players who won't be with the team, probably won't be with the team or will be with the club but not on the field playing." That strikes me as being just about as bad as it can get. Are any other teams facing that much dead space in next year's cap?
Vic: Tennessee probably will. Washington's salary cap problem may even be worse than Tennessee's.
Christopher from Fruitland Park, FL:
I just finished reading your recent column about this year's running backs crop. In the fullback section, there was no mention of Navy FB Kyle Eckel. I remember watching a few Navy games this year and they said he was a senior and a possible pro fullback. What's happened?
Vic: He's a prospect who carries a draftable grade. What interests me is that he may not have to do his hitch with the Navy. Here's why: In an attempt to aid in recruiting football talent to the Naval Academy – they're trying to do the same thing at West Point – players coming out of Annapolis who are drafted by the NFL will be allowed to play and delay their naval commitment. Nobody, therefore, has more at stake in this year's draft than Kyle Eckel. It's an interesting story. I can't help but wonder what Roger Staubach would've achieved had he not spent the prime years of his life on a boat.
Cole from Jacksonville:
If the Jags are able to trade Darius, how would that affect the salary cap?
Vic: Trading Donovin Darius would result in the Jaguars getting his scheduled salary, about $5 million, credited back to their 2005 salary cap. You can't accomplish that by cutting him, however, because once he signed the "franchise" tender the money was guaranteed.
Bill from Atlanta, GA:
Any thoughts on a possible trade of Darius to the Dolphins for Surtain? I think Surtain has some good years left in him. His statistics last year pretty much add up to what he's done throughout his career. Your thoughts?
Vic: I would favor a Patrick Surtain for Donovin Darius trade. I like the dynamics of it. Surtain was a Pro-Bowl player in the 2002-03 seasons. He has 29 career interceptions, including four last year. Something happened to his performance last season that caused the Dolphins to sour on him. That's a red flag, but he's only 29 and he's not so far removed from his glory years that he shouldn't be able to re-claim his fame. Surtain has one year remaining on his contract and his base salary is set at $5.9 million. That makes Surtain about $1 million more expensive than Darius, and I don't think that's too high a price to pay to address a more premium position and, in the process, restore peace within the franchise. My understanding is the Dolphins like Darius. I think this is a workable deal that may not even require long-term contracts for either player, since both guys only have one year remaining on their contracts.
Jason from Springfield, IL:
With the current dismantling of the Titans, the impending implosion of the Colts (salary cap issues) and the third-year Texans still building a franchise, how long do you estimate it will be before the Jags step up and dominate the division for a few years? What needs to be done with current team to get there?
Vic: I agree with the way you've characterized the AFC South. In my opinion, it's there for the taking. Now, it's a matter of whether or not the Jaguars are ready to take it. Given the desperate salary cap circumstances the Titans are facing and the Colts will inevitably face, I have to believe the future of this division will be a battle between the Jaguars and the Texans. So what do the Jaguars have to do to claim the division? They have to beat the Texans. That's what the Jaguars didn't do last season and that's why they didn't make the playoffs.
John from Atlantic Beach, FL:
With the cost of living going up and everything else in society, too, does the salary cap go up each year as well?
Vic: It has never failed to go up from one year to the next. What that means is that the game is still growing. I can remember the salary cap being in the mid-$30 million range in the early years of the cap's existence. This year it's at $85 million, which means that gross revenues in the league have nearly tripled since the salary cap system was first employed. Of course, the players' percentage of the gross has increased, so, that's part of the reason the cap has steadily grown. But the major reason for the steady increase of the cap is the steady growth of the game and the league.
Keita from Jacksonville:
Now that the Giants have withdrawn their interest, what do you think the odds are of seeing Plax in Jax?
Vic: I have to believe Minnesota will make a major effort to do a deal with Plaxico Burress, and I have to believe the prospect of playing with Daunte Culpepper will be a major attraction for Burress. I think Minnesota will be Burress' destination, but if it doesn't work out there, anything becomes possible. If he's still available by the middle of the next week, I would agree that it's time for the Jaguars to get interested.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
Do you think the media is overblowing the Donovin Darius situation? He never said anything bad about Jacksonville, he's just frustrated with the "franchise" tag.
Vic: Wait a minute. We're gonna blame this one on the media, too? What did the media do? Didn't he e-mail them? And what about his use of the words "immoral" and "disgusting?" Do they qualify as something bad?
Ben from Fruit Cove, FL:
What are we doing to address an offense that was our Achilles heel all year? Is a new offensive coordinator all we need? Yes, we need to stretch the field more often, but do we have the players to do that? What are your thoughts about our offense?
Vic: If you're going to address the offensive side of the ball in free agency, you're gonna go broke real fast. If I was a personnel guy, I would favor defense in free agency and offense in the draft. Why? Because offense is the expensive side of the ball and the draft is the least expensive forum for player acquisition. Is it just a coincidence the Jaguars have used their last two first-round picks to draft offensive players (Byron Leftwich and Reggie Williams), and have made their most expensive acquisitions in free agency on the defensive side of the ball (Mike Peterson, Hugh Douglas, Deon Grant, Reggie Hayward)? I don't think so. Yeah, you've got to get value in the draft and you do that by selecting the highest-rated player, but when you can do that and still address need and salary cap concerns, you do it.
Chris from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I just read that the Packers released Sharper. How much, if any, does this hurt Donovin Darius' trade value?
Vic: I would think it has to hurt in some way. All of a sudden, a safety with 39 career interceptions is available and you don't have to trade for him to get him. Such is the nature of the safety position. They're everywhere. When free agency began, there were more safeties available than there were players at any other position. Some of those safeties who were available at the start of free agency are recognizable guys. Dexter Jackson is a Super Bowl MVP. Keion Carpenter has some nice interception totals. Kenoy Kennedy, who signed with Detroit, is a big hitter. Sammy Knight had 31 career interceptions heading into last season. Marlon McCree, who just signed with Carolina, led the Jaguars in interceptions in 2002. Dwight Smith just signed with New Orleans. And the draft crop is always loaded with safeties. There are four college safeties – Thomas Davis of Georgia, Brodney Pool of Oklahoma, Josh Bullocks of Nebraska and Ernest Shazor of Michigan – who fit in the top 50 prospects of this year's draft, and who knows how many of the cornerbacks will end up playing safety in the NFL. The glut of talent at the safety position makes it difficult to trade one. The Patriots had to cut Lawyer Milloy.
Dean from Jacksonville:
Will you please tell Sharon from Port Charlotte, Florida, that I'd sure like to meet her now that I've broken up with my ex-fiancee.
Vic: Wow! That was quick. I hope I didn't say anything that caused the breakup.
John from Jacksonville:
Under poor advice from his representation, Ciatrick Fason did not work-out at the scouting combine and waited until his pro day to work-out for NFL scouts. Most of the country expected him to put up a 40 time near or under 4.4. I could hear it in Shack Harris' voice when he was on your radio show on Wednesday night and he said, "When you grade a guy at a 4.4 and he runs a 4.6, you know a little bit more about what you got." He prefaced his comment by saying it was not a good day to run, and on most websites they cited wind as a factor. All players that ran that day were slower than expected. I think this is a prime example of why players should work out in the controlled conditions of the combine. They run it on the Colts' field, for crying out loud. Do the math.
Vic: You are a student of the game. It warms my heart that someone knows how to listen to an interview and "get it" without a safe falling on their head.
Timothy from Tampa, FL:
Why is everyone interested in signing Plaxico Burress when there is a much better receiver out there that is probably only looking for a one-year deal? That man is none other than the great Jerry Rice.
Vic: How many times do I have to say it? The NFL doesn't allow canes on the field.
Eric from Columbus, IN:
My brother kicks for Indiana University and just yesterday a scout called him to ask him questions about Courtney Roby and his hands. What do you think about Roby?
Vic: Someone whispered his name in my ear a few weeks ago. Remember the name Courtney Roby. You will be seeing it again. Who knows, you may be seeing it a lot for a long time.