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In the draft, bad is good

Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Terrance from Jacksonville:
If you could only keep one defensive back between Darius and Bryant, which player would you choose? Based on play this year, I would keep Darius.

Vic: It's not about who you want to keep. It's about who you can afford to keep. Before I consider keeping either one, I have to see a willingness on their part to move in the team's direction in negotiations. You might say the one I keep is the one who is most cooperative in negotiations.

Bill from Jacksonville:
You're a cap whiz. Recently, I read where Tony Brackens is due to receive over $9 million in salary next season that could go another $4.2 million if he gets four more sacks. If I am not mistaken, his contract was negotiated right in the midst of our cap problem realization. Did somebody spice the eggnog or was Brackens' agent that good at negotiations? Secondly, how does it affect us going forward? At some point, do we need to cut and run or can this contract make sense over the long haul?

Vic: Let's start by getting the numbers right. Tony Brackens is scheduled to earn $6.5 million in salary next season. His salary and the prorated portion of his bonus amortization would make him a $9.2 million salary cap hit. If he gets four more sacks this season, the incentive money he will earn will reach $4.3 million, but he has already earned a major portion of that figure. By the way, that incentive money was not part of his original deal in August of 2000. The incentive money is part of the re-structuring to which he agreed this past offseason, when he converted about $5 million of salary to incentives, in a very team-friendly move on his part. Now, let's stop here because we can't predict Brackens' future with any accuracy without knowing the verdict on his sacks incentive. What we know must happen is this: To have any chance of staying with the team, Brackens must be willing to re-do his deal because $6.5 and $9.2 are way out of line, and his incentive money already puts him well over the $9.2 figure. What we don't know is how willing he will be to re-do that deal if he maxes out on his incentives. Let this play out over the next two games, then write back.

Lee from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Thank you once again for your prolific writings. I remain hooked! Sure, we would all like to see a top receiver drafted and the kicking game needs to be addressed, but it just occurs to me we'll be focused on the defensive side of the ball; ironic, given the improvement. Thoughts?

Vic: Defensive end and cornerback are primary needs, and safety and linebacker are secondary needs.

Claude from Roanoke, VA:
What is a muff? Can a muff be advanced?

Vic: A muff is a furry kind of winter hand-warmer. Most muffs are the same, basic in design and manufacture, though I imagine some might be more advanced than others. Players wear them in cold-weather games so they might be able to pick up the ball and run with it after they drop a punt or kick.

Troy from Murrieta, CA:
Can you clear this up for me? When two teams finish with the same record, for the draft, does the team with the harder schedule get the advantage or not?

Vic: The team that played the weaker schedule drafts ahead of the team that played the stronger schedule. Remember, in the draft order, bad is good. What that means is that if the draft was today, the Jaguars would be eighth in the order.

Patrick from Morgantown, WV:
Why did the Jaguars change their uniforms from the original uniform that was introduced when they were announced?

Vic: If you're talking about the uniform – it looked like a hairy snake had died on the shoulders – that was used as a prop when it was announced Jacksonville would be the NFL's 30th franchise, the answer is simple: The NFL was concerned that opposing teams would be so overcome with laughter that the Jaguars would gain an unfair competitive advantage.

Lou from Jacksonville:
Your philosophy against signing high-priced free agents is well documented and hard to disagree with. However, I am very intrigued by the possible crop of cornerbacks who may be available. Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey and Chris McAllister are true shut-down corners, something the Jaguars have never had. They are all relatively young, unlike Bryce Paup, Carnell Lake, Hardy Nickerson and Hugh Douglas. Would any of these guys cost the Jaguars a number one pick? If any would not, I believe they would be worth the money. Are you willing to consider the possibility this might actually be an exception to your rule?

Vic: Chris McAllister currently bears the "franchise" tag. If the Ravens tag him again, it would cost any team signing him in free agency two first-round picks. If the Ravens do not tag him again, he would join Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey in unrestricted free agency, provided none of those three signs a new contract with their current teams or are made "franchise" players. Signing unrestricted free agents requires no compensation. Having said all of that, the thought of what it would do to a team's salary cap to sign one of those guys sends chills up my back. Next year appears to be another very good draft for cornerbacks. Why would you use free agency to get your cornerback when you can get him a lot more inexpensively in the draft?

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