Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Skeeter from Jacksonville:
Vic, it's my understanding players are not allowed to participate in training camp unless they are under contract. Is this true and does that also apply to the offseason conditioning program and mini-camps, especially in the case of the newly-drafted rookies? The Jags have their first mandatory mini-camp starting this Friday. Will any of the new guys be there?
Vic: Once training camp begins, all participating players must be under contract. They are not required to be under contract to participate in offseason conditioning and the spring mini-camps. Yes, this weekend's mini-camp is mandatory for veteran players, but it is voluntary for the new draft choices who are not under contract; they can not be fined for not attending. Why would a new draft choice not under contract not attend mini-camp? Because he's afraid of suffering an injury that would damage his position in contract negotiations. There was a time in the early-1980s when high-round draft picks opted not to attend mini-camps prior to signing a contract, but insurance policies are now usually purchased to give unsigned draft choices the security necessary to attend mini-camp. I expect all of the Jaguars' new draft choices will be in attendance this weekend.
Lee from Jacksonville:
Finally, a break from you having to continue to answer the "draft for need/draft for value" question. So before you are smothered with "What's the future of Brunell?" questions, take a breather with this: Why does everyone refer to our new personnel director as James "Shack" Harris? What does the "Shack" nickname mean?
Vic: James Harris' father originally had the nickname and it was passed down to James' older brother. James took the name as a result of a mistake in a softball league when James was 12 years old. The coach wrote James' older brother's name on the roster instead of James'. And the nickname was passed on; from father to son to brother. By the way, James said he tore that league up.
Juanus from Los Angeles, CA:
I think the drafting of Leftwich was a fabulous choice and I am really pleased with the new draft strategy. But how do you see Leftwich fitting into the "West Coast offense" that will be installed here? With him being more of a big-arm, strong pocket QB, it doesn't seem like a natural fit.
Vic: There's a natural tendency to consider the "West Coast offense" to be a dainty scheme fit only for sissies. But Brett Favre plays in the "West Coast offense" and I can't think of a more unlikely quarterback; wild, unpredictable, throw it up for grabs. You're going to be very surprised by Byron Leftwich's touch and accuracy. He's more than a big arm. By the way, the "West Coast offense" is not designed for quarterbacks to run. It's very much a pocket-passing scheme.
Chris from Jacksonville:
I know the team will realize a significant savings if they (the team) cut Brunell this year, but what are the savings on the '04 cap (if any) if the team decides to cut Brunell after the '03 season? I look forward to your answer.
Vic: Your question is impossible to answer without knowing the details of a re-structured contract. I can't imagine the Jaguars would keep Mark Brunell under the terms of his current contract, which would pay Brunell $6.75 million in salary this season, a $2 million roster bonus next winter and would increase his salary cap hit from $8.75 million in 2003 to $10.5 million in '04. That's not going to happen. But if it did, the cap savings in '04 from cutting Brunell after the '03 season would be $8.5 million. But, I repeat, that's not going to happen.
Ben from Jacksonville:
My question is about the guys the Jaguars signed as undrafted free agents. Who of that bunch do you see making the roster, maybe even making a contribution next year? Seth Marler certainly looks good. We need a kicker and he was one of the best; far more consistent than Damon Duval. And I could also see Brett Romberg getting onto the regular-season roster. Your thoughts?
Vic: The two names you mentioned are good prospects. Seth Marler is the top-rated kicker in the 2003 NFL Draft. He has decent leg strength and he is very accurate, but he is not much of a kickoff candidate. Brett Romberg is a hot name because of the exposure he received from playing at Miami. He's smart, tough and durable. But, honestly, for a team attempting to rebuild its roster, I would think any of the undrafted players have a chance of making the team. Undrafted guys are great for the salary cap.
Dustin from Bel Air, MD:
What do you think the chances are of Byron Leftwich starting this year over Mark Brunell?
Vic: They didn't draft Byron Leftwich to sit the bench.