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Jags may have to count on Williams

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

Ron Quinn from Green Cove Springs, FL:
This is the first year I have paid much attention to the draft, and I can tell you it was exciting. It will be interesting to see how the Jaguars' picks pan out, as well as the players they didn't pick. I would like to know what happens if the drafted player and the team cannot agree on a contract?

Vic: Ron, a team retains the rights to a player it drafted until the following year's draft. If the team hasn't reached a contract with the drafted player at that point, the player re-enters the draft. He may not sign with another team without going through the draft, again. The process repeats itself until he is signed or undrafted.
 

Javier Bencomo from El Paso, TX:
Being a Jaguar fan in West Texas is tough, so, I always look at your column for some answers. I believe the Jaguars did a great job filling up some of their needs on draft day, yet, I still have a problem with having a rookie (Maurice Williams) protecting Brunell's blind side, not that I question Williams' ability or talent, but I still feel it's a risk. Looking at the Jaguars schedule and some of the defensive ends Williams would match up with makes me question this. So my question is, looking at the free agents available, could the Jaguars make a move to sign a quality veteran (minimum salary) to allow Williams to develop and reach his potential without risking and losing Brunell to an injury that could be prevented?

Vic: Any veteran you might sign at minimum wage probably isn't going to offer the quality you're seeking.
 

Burney Dawkins from Jacksonville:
First, I enjoy reading your thoughts because they are not full of whiney second-guessing, like so many of your counterparts. I think we had a solid draft that will fill several of our holes. My question to you is: What is the money situation looking like going into the summer, and will there be some cap casualties in order to get the draftees signed?

Vic: The Jaguars' salary cap situation remains desperate and it will be that way for probably a couple of more years. Unfortunately, after massive contract re-structuring this past winter, there are only three players' whose release would represent cap gain for the Jaguars. Trading or cutting Kevin Hardy would represent a $2.2 million gain on the Jaguars' 2001 salary cap. Cutting Lonnie Marts or Carnell Lake after June 1 would provide more cap room, but the gain in cutting Lake would be minimal. If the Jaguars are creative with their rookie's contracts, they may be able to fit them all under their cap the way it is, but that would leave no room for emergency moves during the season, and "creative" is another way of saying mortgage the future.
 

Jason Wulfekuhle from Cheyenne, WY:
I believe our draft was a good draft. I just can't understand Tom Coughlin's thinking on getting a punter. Wouldn't it have been better to get a fullback instead, and then get a punter in the later rounds or in free agency? Do you agree with this and think we should have picked someone else besides a punter or a fullback?

Vic: Coughlin was afraid David Leaverton might not last until the seventh round. At the time, the Jaguars did not have a sixth-round pick. Coughlin also knew he didn't have the cap room to compete against other teams in undrafted rookie free agency. Those were his thoughts. My thoughts are that the fifth round was awfully high for a team with a depleted roster to draft a punter, especially considering the talent that was still on the board. Remember, this was a very deep draft, and the fifth round this year may be the equivalent of the fourth round in a normal year.
 

Paul Baimbridge from Temecula, CA:
Do you think that maybe Coughlin was thinking that Maurice Williams has the potential to be a better player than Kenyatta Walker? Do you think that's why he passed on Walker?

Vic: The choice of Marcus Stroud over Walker stands on its own merits, since the Jaguars truly didn't believe Williams would be available to them in the second round.
 
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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