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'Leaguethink' still exists

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

Nick from South Kingstown, RI:
What, in your opinion, is the necessary percentage of the revenue that needs to be shared among the teams for the Jaguars to be safe in Jacksonville and competitive for a long time?

Vic: Wayne Weaver was seeking a 34 percent share of the local revenue. In other words, he wanted each team to contribute 34 percent of its local revenue to a pool, the sum of which would be divided equally among the league's 32 teams. It became obvious in this week's meetings that sharing local revenue was a concept that wouldn't get done, so, nine teams began caucusing yesterday on alternative strategies. In the end, a hybrid of those strategies was accepted by the ownership and got the whole thing done. As I said all along, when the owners agreed to a revenue-sharing strategy, we would immediately have a CBA extension, and that's exactly what happened. I can't tell you what the Jaguars' need is percentage-wise to show a profit and remain competitive, but I can tell you that without some sort of revenue-sharing plan that was acceptable to Weaver, the Jaguars would not have been able to field a competitive team. The revenue-sharing plan to which Weaver and 29 other owners agreed on Wednesday night is a victory for the Jaguars and other small-market, low-revenue teams because it acknowledges the need for sharing and it establishes a means for doing it. You gotta start somewhere.

Eric from Fayetteville, NC:
All of these teams are taking players off their rosters to make cap room but I don't see the Jags even blinking. I know their cap is healthy but does this mean the Jags are intact for the 2006 season? Nothing but upgrades this year?

Vic: It means the Jaguars are considerably under the salary cap and don't have to cut anybody for reasons based on anything other than football performance. Nothing but upgrades? Yeah, that's a good way to put it.

Jon from Durham, NC:
If it's about the money, how would you have sold revenue-sharing to the big-market teams?

Vic: I would've sold it the same way Pete Rozelle presented it and sold 40 years ago: Pooling the revenue is best for the league. It's a philosophy of "leaguethink" and 40 years later it's still working. That's what the league's owners did on Wednesday night. They confirmed that "leaguethink" still exists.

Cory from Jacksonville:
How hard do you believe in drafting the best available player? Are there exceptions?

Vic: Why do we have to go through this every year? Why can't we understand that all plans require a degree of flexibility. That's what settled the CBA/revenue-sharing issue, the willingness of the owners to be flexible. Yeah, there are exceptions to the BAP philosophy, but the fundamental premise on which that philosophy is built is that you must retain the value of the pick you have. If Sammy Baugh is available when it's your turn to pick, but you already have Johnny Unitas, then the smart thing to do is trade out of that spot and recoup the value Baugh's availability should return in the way of draft picks. If you can't work that deal, then maybe you should draft Baugh first and then trade him, as the Chargers did with Eli Manning. Sometimes you gotta call their bluff, huh? In my opinion, the thing you don't wanna do is pass on Baugh, draft an average player at a position of need and let one your competitors draft Baugh. Is that so difficult to understand? Ben Roethlisberger is the perfect example. It would've been so much better if the Jaguars could've worked a trade with someone who wanted Roethlisberger. I'll never understand why the Bills didn't jump at that opportunity. It was a major mistake.

Jason from Portland, OR:
I heard the large-market teams felt that if they have to share revenue with the small-market teams, then the small-market teams should share the large-market teams' debt. Is that going to happen?

Vic: There is no provision in the new CBA for sharing debt. The large-market teams spoke of sharing debt to make a point and it was a very valid point. That's why a formula for sharing revenue couldn't be as simple as everyone throws in 34 percent. Do the math and you'll see that 34 percent of Daniel Snyder's local revenue is a heckuva lot more than 34 percent of Mike Brown's local revenue. It just wasn't an equitable formula because the effort to market their products isn't the same. That's why a more sophisticated plan became necessary. The revenue-sharing plan the league adopted last night is ingenious. It satisfies the small-market/low-revenue teams because it doesn't require them to contribute to the revenue-sharing pot, and it satisfies the large-market/high-revenue teams because it sets the percentage they must contribute at a much lower rate. It became an acceptable strategy.

Cory from Jacksonville:
Are we that much smaller a market than the rest of the league?

Vic: Where have you been? Jacksonville is the 52nd-largest market in America with 624,220 TV households. The only NFL market that is smaller is Green Bay with 432,810 TV households, but that doesn't include Milwaukee. If you include Milwaukee in the Green Bay market, Jacksonville is the league's smallest market. That's going to change. Jacksonville is in explosive growth and this market is going to pass a lot of other NFL markets over the next several years, but as it stands right now, Jacksonville can't offer the revenue potential most NFL markets can. I think Jaguars fans are beginning to understand that Jacksonville was awarded something very special on the promise that one day it would be worthy of it. Weaver and the city and the fans of this team are the bridge to Jacksonville's sports future.

Jeff from Boonsboro, MD:
I think the Jaguars are by far the most conservative team when it comes to free agency. Do you agree?

Vic: No, there are a lot of teams that spend conservatively in free agency. I can think of one right away, the Steelers. How about the Ravens? They spent a fortune in free agency last year. That worked out well, didn't it?

Hasso from Jacksonville:
Finally the owners got it done. Does this assure the Jaguars won't leave Jacksonville in the near future?

Vic: I think it does. This is something that had to happen for the Jaguars to have any chance of success. Of course, the Jaguars' future will ultimately be decided by the fans. You have to sell tickets.

Jared from Edison, NJ:
What factors would cause Cincinnati and Buffalo to reject the proposal?

Vic: I'm guessing that Mike Brown wanted to go on record as saying he didn't consider the arrangements acceptable. Ralph Wilson said he didn't vote to approve because he didn't understand the details. I can understand that, too. The revenue-sharing strategy the owners have accepted is a very complicated model and it's difficult to predict whether or not it'll work.

Asley from Jacksonville:
OK, the NFL has finally reached a new CBA. Now, please explain it in full to us and let's finally get started on talking about free agency.

Vic: The owners agreed to a revenue-sharing plan that will direct money from the high-revenue teams to the low-revenue teams, who will use that money to pay for the costs the high-revenue teams will have passed on to the low-revenue teams in the form of increased player costs (salary cap). That revenue-sharing agreement caused the owners to adopt a labor agreement, assuring labor peace and a continuance of the salary cap system for 4-6 years; either side may opt out of the new CBA after four years. I have a feeling you don't want to know any more.

Danny from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
It's 10 p.m. Wednesday and we have just signed a new CBA and you haven't posted anything yet? Are you sleeping on the job?

Vic: Actually, that's exactly what I do at 10 p.m. Plus, Wayne Weaver was on his plane returning to Jacksonville and I told him not to call me with the details if he got in too late because, of course, I need my sleep. Weaver will meet with the local media today and he'll no doubt tell us what this new deal means to the Jaguars. will post that story shortly after the press conference, provided I can get it done before my bedtime.

Kevin from Virginia Beach, VA:
Does the first year of the six-year CBA extension start with the 2006 season or does it start when the current CBA expires?

Vic: It begins at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, which is the official start of the league year and free agency.

Ben from Phoenix, AZ:
How much of "Salary Cap 101" has to be re-written now?

Vic: That's an interesting question. I was told yesterday that a new CBA would likely create some changes in salary cap procedures. I'll make a point of finding out what those changes are. I trust you'll allow me a few days to do that, right?

Jack from Vancouver, BC:
Here's a straight question. Is the new CBA good or bad for the Jaguars by financial means?

Vic: The new CBA will only be good for those teams that can afford it. I gotta tell you, I think the players won. The question is can the Jaguars afford it? I'm trusting the answer is yes because Wayne Weaver voted to ratify, but I have my suspicions. If I was an NFL owner flying back from Dallas on my private jet last night, I might've been thinking: We gave the players too much.

Frank from Orange Park, FL:
Now that we've got a new CBA and some more revenue-sharing, the free-agent boom is not going to come. Can we turn our attention to the draft? I really want to know who we can expect to be on the board when the Jaguars are on the clock.

Vic: If you're saying this is going to be a weak free-agent class, I agree. Teams now have the cap room to re-structure contracts and keep good players they would've been forced to lose. Is it time to look at the draft? Sure it is. began its draft preview series this week and with the CBA out of the way now, we'll get into previewing the draft in a big way next week.

Stevon from Jacksonville:
Is there a hero we can applaud?

Vic: Every owner contributed to securing the future of the league for the next six years and let's not forget that Wayne Weaver fired the first salvo on revenue-sharing last summer when it was learned Weaver and Dan Rooney were the architects of a Jacksonville-Pittsburgh plan for sharing local revenue. That's when it became apparent that revenue-sharing would be the major issue in achieving labor peace. There were nine teams that Commissioner Tagliabue singled out last night as major players at crunch time. In the final-day desperation, two plans surfaced that kicked off progress. There was a Jets-Patriots plan and a Steelers-Ravens plan. Then John Mara of the Giants, Pat Bowlen of the Broncos and Jerry Richardson of the Panthers met with Tagliabue and blended the ideas from those two plans. Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and Arthur Blank of the Falcons got involved and advanced the hybrid plan that was being developed, then Rooney joined with Falcons GM Rich McKay for more tweaking.

David from Jacksonville:
At $102 million for this year, are there any teams that will have to still cut players to get under the cap?

Vic: Yeah, there will be cuts, but teams will have the cap room and the extra years necessary to re-structure contracts and maintain the integrity of their rosters.

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