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It's a matter of staying young

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

Bill Wagner from Orange Park, FL:
I do enjoy reading your column and this has been a question that has lingered in my mind for a long time. I understand the need for the salary cap and to control spending, but I grew up in the era when a team stayed together for the most part. It has always seemed to me a team should draft their players for the most part. Why is it the NFL won't allow the team to compensate their drafted players whatever they feel is good for them and if the player doesn't want to agree then he can go the free agency route? It just seems this would promote the NFL to create their own team from the draft instead of buying talent for the mere reason of a run for the Super Bowl. I would really appreciate your feelings about this.
Vic: Bill, I love your idea of exempting a team's draft choices from the salary cap, but it won't fly. Here's why: First of all, the players union probably wouldn't accept that plan because it would discourage free agency. Secondly, the owners probably wouldn't favor it because it would promote wild spending, and that's what the salary cap was created to restrict. But I love your idea. Maybe it just needs refining.

James Williams from Jacksonville:
I just saw the seven players signed by the Jags on-line. There's not a 21 or 22-year-old on the list. I know Coughlin has the cap in mind, but are they all practice-team players, or do you think he's looking for something other than savings?
Tom Coughlin is looking for talent anywhere he can find it because he knows the Jaguars are going to be desperate for it.

Linda Melvin from Jacksonville:
My question is about the salary cap and veteran players. It seems that once a player gets to that x-year mark that requires a team pay him x-dollar amount, he's between a rock and a hard spot. From what I understand, the player cannot opt to take less money to stay with a team. That doesn't make sense to me. Doesn't that force some players out of the NFL if they aren't superstars and no team can afford to keep them on the roster? It seems that if a player wants to stay with a team and is willing to take less than the base, it should be their call. What am I missing?

There are a lot of general managers in the league who share your opinion. I am sensitive to it and to those veteran players who are being forced out of football by the minimum wage they must be paid. However, my big-picture outlook supports the system the way it is because it promotes the constant discovery of inexpensive, young talent. Baseball's recycling causes it to have a very old look. In contrast, the NFL stays fresh by giving us new names every season. If coaches weren't forced to find those new, young players, they would likely stay with the same tired, old veterans. Linda, make no mistake about it, this is a game for young men.

Tom Rusk from Malabar, FL:
With the Jags likely to post losing records these next two seasons, do you think coach Coughlin will make it to 2004? I know Mr. Weaver is 100 percent behind him, but doesn't fan pressure usually have the ultimate say in these matters?
Fan pressure didn't make the decision this year.

Scott Cooper from Waycross, GA:
Why were seven players signed by the Jags last week? I noticed other teams doing the same. What is done with them at this point in the offseason?

The seven players the Jaguars signed are designated "reserve/future," which means they won't count against the 2001 salary cap that remains in effect until March 1, 2002, the first day of the NFL 2002 calendar year. At that point, they would count against the cap if they are among the Jaguars' top 51 cap hits. The Jaguars signed those seven players because they wanted to remain competitive in the scouting process. If, on Feb. 28, they don't have room on their cap for those players, the Jaguars can cut them. They did that a year ago with a few players, then re-signed them after they made more room on their cap.

Bob Masten from Orange Park, FL:
I listen to your radio show each week and subscribe to Jaguars Inside Report and both are tremendous avenues to track the Jaguars. How much longer do you think we should keep Fred Taylor with his injury problems ?

Fred Taylor is one of those rare players who can hold a team hostage with his talent. He is that talented. In my opinion, the Jaguars must be patient with Taylor.

Jon Williams from Jacksonville:
With the team in search of a new defensive coordinator, what are the odds of former Vanderbilt head coach Woody Widenhofer being interviewed and possibly hired to fill the vacancy? And would the fact he was the defensive coordinator of the Steelers during their four Super Bowl titles in the '70's help him get the job?

It sure looks good on a resume, doesn't it? I covered the Steelers throughout the 1970's and I have great respect for Woody Widenhofer. I think he would be an outstanding candidate.

John Daly from Jacksonville:
Now that Jacksonville has salary cap problems and is expected to release some of their star players, when does a powerhouse team like St. Louis suffer the same salary-cap woes the Jaguars are experiencing?
Vic: The Rams' problems are right around the corner.

Cheryl Overfield from Jacksonville:
In a previous column, you wrote: "Wayne Weaver has maneuvered around the blackout rules to have games telecast in the Jacksonville market that would not have been shown in other teams' home markets." Could you explain what Mr. Weaver has done to maneuver around the blackout rules?
Vic: Wayne Weaver sought and received approval from the league for specially-designated seating that would be exempt from the Jaguars' Alltel Stadium blackout total. Those special designations are "obstructed view," "military" and "Honor Rows" seating, and they reduced the blackout-seating number by about 4,000 tickets. I know of no other team in the league that has lobbied for such exemptions. In all other NFL cities, if one ticket remains unsold (other than for those seating areas designated for "disabled" fans), the game is blacked out. Weaver has said repeatedly he wants the games televised in Jacksonville and he has worked generously toward that end.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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