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I was a fool

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

Shawn from Jacksonville:
Does Walter Jones being 31 make the Jaguars wary? Also, do the Jags make a run at Bubba Franks?

Vic: From what I've seen of Walter Jones, he's playing the best football of his career. He's not old for a tackle. Bubba Franks would be worth courting, too. He's a talent, especially in the red zone. In the final analysis, it always comes down to money. You'd love to have both guys, but at what price? I expect Jones would be real expensive. The "franchise" tag for a tight end is $2.7 million, which would represent a bargain for the Packers to keep Franks. I expect Franks to be "franchised."

Howard from Homestead, FL:
What's up with the NFL going crazy over Moss mimicking pulling his pants off and the Super Bowl being filled with Cialis commercials? Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy in that?

Vic: It's a prescription drug. It enriches a man's life. It might even be a good thing for her, too. A guy comes home from shooting the round of his life. He's telling his wife about it and, all of a sudden, he begins feeling amorous. Come on, Howard. The guy didn't three-putt one green. Give him a break.

Armand from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Out of our RFA and UFA players, who should we keep and who should we say bye-bye to?

Vic: I don't think the Jaguars will lose either of their two restricted free agents, Akin Ayodele and Deke Cooper. I expect the Jaguars will use the system to protect their rights to those players. From the list of unrestricted free agents, the issue would be money. Those guys have made it to the marketplace and now the Jaguars would have to bid to keep them. The tough part about that is the teams who will be bidding on the Jaguars' UFA players are teams that have targeted those players. That means the price may be high and if the Jaguars weren't willing to do a new deal with those players before they became free agents, wouldn't that suggest they've already decided to let them go? The big decision will be on Donovin Darius. In my opinion, the "franchise" tag for a safety has become too costly to use on Darius again. If it were my decision, I would try one more time to sign him before free agency begins; you know, a take-it-or-else deal.

William from Jacksonville:
You're right about the Patriots' ability to pick up the blitz being a big difference, but there was more. I was fortunate enough to be at the game. It was clear to me that once the Patriots established Corey Dillon and the screen passes at the end of the first half, the game was over. One of the big lessons from that game was the offensive orientation of both teams. Generally speaking, the Patriots offense has a vertical orientation. The Eagles spent the game with a horizontal orientation. In fact, as the game went on, my disdain for Andy Reid's strain of the "West Coast offense" grew exponentially. Has a "West Coast" team ever won the Super Bowl without a power running back (Roger Craig, Rickey Watters) that could gash you between the tackles?

Vic: I don't want to do too much research on your question because right off the top of my head I know the answer is yes, the 1981 49ers won the Super Bowl with almost no running game of which to speak. It wasn't, however, until the 49ers got Roger Craig that they became a truly dominant team. When they mixed a balanced offense with an aggressive, domineering defense, they became darn near unbeatable. I'm most interested in your comments about Super Bowl XXXIX. An "Ask Vic" reader wrote to me last week, reprimanding me for going against my "run the ball/stop the run" philosophy of football in picking the Eagles to beat the Patriots. He was right. I went against my absolute belief in "run the ball/stop the run." But there's more. All of a sudden I arrived at the opinion that Jevon Kearse would terrorize the Patriots' tackles and Tom Brady, and that would be the difference in the game. As I look back on it, all I can do is laugh at myself. Why did I all of a sudden abandon my belief in the importance of "run the ball/stop the run," and change my opinion of Kearse, who've I've long believed is one of the most overrated football players of our time? Your analysis is right on the button. As soon as Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk started gashing the Eagles, I knew it was over and that I was a fool.

Todd from Birmingham, AL:
I'm confused about the term restricted free agent. I thought any player with three accrued seasons was automatically an RFA. So why aren't Henderson, Pearson and Garrard RFA's?

Vic: Because their contracts do not expire.

Dominic from Jacksonville:
Can you please explain the difference between restricted and unrestricted free agents.

Vic: Restricted free agents have three accrued seasons and unrestricted free agents have four or more. Their contracts must also have expired. A restricted free agent may sign with another team but compensation may be required. An unrestricted free agent is unencumbered in his ability to sign with another team.

Josh from San Bernardino, CA:
With this new TV deal, the salary cap is supposed to go up big-time. Exactly how much? What does this mean for the Titans and Colts and other teams on the brink of salary cap hell?

Vic: How much the salary cap will increase will be determined by negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The cap may go way up, it may not. The Titans and Colts probably hope it'll go way up, but it's all relative. More money for them to spend means a lot more money for their competition to spend.

Todd from Jacksonville:
With Belichick and his young minds around the organization, I'm confident the Pats defense will make things work, but who is out there to take the offensive coordinator position? Weis left some big shoes to fill.

Vic: You're talking about the number one story of the offseason in New England: Who's going to be the Patriots' new offensive coordinator? Romeo Crennel did a wonderful job on defense, but Bill Belichick's fingerprints are all over the Patriots defense and I don't think replacing Crennel is nearly the issue replacing Weis is. It's that way on the side of the ball opposite the head coach's expertise, especially when the head coach is a defensive guy. I'm not close enough to the Patriots to know who the top candidates are to replace Weis. All I can tell you is that whoever that person is he will be accepting enormous pressure. Talk about a job with more downside than upside. If the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl next season, he'll be the reason. I wouldn't want that job. Give me Miami or San Francisco.

Joe from Tallahassee, FL:
What is the status of Muhsin Muhammad of Carolina?

Vic: Muhsin Muhammad's contract includes a $10 million roster bonus to be paid on March 2. If he's not paid that amount of money on March 2 he'll become an unrestricted free agent. I think it's safe to say he'll be available.

Nick from Jacksonville:
I just read that Deion Branch is a restricted free agent. Could you tell us what round he was drafted in?

Vic: You have been misinformed. Deion Branch signed a five-year contract in 2002 when he was drafted in the second round by the Patriots.

Tom from Jacksonville:
I know that in the past some teams have not made the deadline to be under the salary cap. What does the league impose on those teams?

Vic: No team has ever failed to be in compliance with the salary cap on the first day of the league calendar year. Should that occur, the offending team would likely lose a draft pick or picks.

Steve from Orlando, FL:
Where do the Jags rank in amount of money to spend in free agency?

Vic: The Jaguars will take a lot of salary cap room into this year's free agency period and that should allow them to be aggressive. I've said that they should be somewhere around $22 million under the salary cap, after tenders are made. But you really can't look at it in terms of hard dollars and cents because all of that would depend on how the contracts of free agents the Jaguars sign would be structured. You can push money out with signing bonuses and deferred signing bonus payment, or you can move money forward and eat up more space in the current year by paying roster bonus instead of signing bonus. What's important to know is that value is everything. The Jaguars have the room to be very aggressive in pursuing free agents of perceived value, but having a lot of room should not be a temptation to spend recklessly. We know how that turns out, don't we?

Johan from Gothenburg, Sweden:
You continuously preach about always drafting best available player. So you are really saying we should have drafted "Big Ben" last year, even though we picked Byron the year before?

Vic: When I gave the "BAP" answer yesterday I knew it would result in what you're asking, so let's get this out of the way, too, and then be done with it. When you run into a situation in which the BAP is at a position where you have no perceived need, then I believe it's important to trade down and recoup the value of the pick. Value is what's important. If you don't like what's available where you're at, then move down to where need and value meet and, in the process, pick up an extra pick or picks. Don't waste value on a player who doesn't fit where you're picking him. That's what I'm preaching.

Andy from Neptune Beach, FL:
I noticed that during the coin toss to start the Super Bowl, the coin was never flipped. The boy tossed it and it landed the same way it was placed in his hand, without really flipping. Should they have re-flipped? Are there any guidelines for the coin toss?

Vic: I hope not. We have enough guidelines. Maybe someone should've just taught the kid how to flip a coin. He threw it like a Frisbee.

Jon from Van Buren, AR:
How would you compare the Patriots dynasty to other NFL dynasties?

Vic: It stands alone. It is the only dynasty of the salary cap era. All other dynasties are pre-salary cap and, therefore, are not comparable to the Patriots. All of the previous dynasties did not have to deal with a salary cap limit or the loss of players through free agency. There was no limit as to how many good players they could have on their team. Nine players from the Steelers teams of the 1970's are in the Hall of Fame. How many from these Patriots will make it into the Hall? Ultimately, that's how you compare teams and the Patriots are at a distinct disadvantage. The great teams from the pre-salary cap era are the best teams of all-time. The Patriots are the best team from now on.

Charles from Jacksonville:
How long does it take for the bargains to become available in free agency?

Vic: As I have often said, there are no bargains in the first week of free agency. If you're looking for a bargain, you need to wait a couple of weeks, at least.

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