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Live by spirit of the cap

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

Tom from Malabar, FL:
I've read that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement includes an uncapped year. If a new agreement is not signed could a team in cap trouble re-write their contracts to push all of their cap problems into that year? If so, is it conceivable that enough teams would want to use that loophole that they would delay the start of the new CBA?

Vic: The last year of the current CBA is 2007, which is an uncapped year. There are rules that forbid teams from pushing too much money into uncapped years. If you knew the salary cap system wasn't going to be renewed, then you could push as much as possible into 2007 and beyond, then wait for the system to expire. But that's not going to happen. The system will be renewed. The players and the owners will agree to a new CBA and it will provide for the continuation of the current cap system. If you push a lot of money into '07 and beyond expecting the cap to go away, you'll find yourself having to deal with a major problem when the cap is continued. It still amazes me how people continue to look for loopholes in the cap system; looking for a way to violate the spirit of the rules. Yet, the Patriots and Eagles are not only the two most successful teams in the game, they are also the two most cap-conscious teams in the game.

Eddie from Jacksonville:
I have the utmost respect for you and agree with 85 percent of what you say, however, there are a couple of us dedicated Cards fans (well at least 20 or 25 of us). Denny Green is quietly ridding the team of non-team players and putting together a talented group.

Vic: I agree that he is, but I can't help but wonder how much farther ahead the Cardinals would be today if they hadn't drafted wide receivers in the first round of the last two drafts. The Cardinals need a quarterback, yet Denny Green passed on Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger in last year's draft. So what are the Cardinals going to do now? That's the big question Green is facing. Where is he going to get his quarterback? I think Green has the Cardinals on the rise, but I also think he blew it in last year's draft. Larry Fitzgerald wasn't the right guy for Arizona.

Sharon from Port Charlotte, FL:
Will you tell Dean from Jax that I'm a nice single girl and I love the Jags? I have even traveled five hours one way for games. It would be nice to know someone real close.

Vic: Just another one of the many services "Ask Vic" provides.

Shane from Jacksonville:
I'm a season ticket holder for three straight years and I'm probably getting the tickets again this year and I'm starting a "Boo Darius" group unless he gets traded. I understand wanting to get traded because of money issues, but to actually write and call the newspapers and beg them to talk about you so the other team will trade for you, that's pathetic. That's exactly what I think about Darius. Last night watching ESPN, I had to explain to my daughter why Darius talks bad about the Jaguars. Your thoughts?

Vic: Shouldn't you encourage other forms of dialogue between you and your daughter? Depending on her age, shouldn't you be explaining to your daughter why Bambi was orphaned, or why boys give girls flowers? Have we reached the point in our culture that father and daughter are bonded by "Sportscenter?" Take her to a movie, Shane. Then take her out for a burger and let her tell you about her life.

Earl from San Pedro, CA:
I've read that Plaxico Burress could sign a one-year contract in order to prove himself this year and be more attractive in next year's free agency. What would be a reasonable price for a year of his services and could you see the Jaguars shelling out a few million for a solid secondary receiver in 2005?

Vic: Some team might be interested in doing that. The Jaguars did that with Bobby Shaw in 2002. In my opinion, however, I don't think it's a beneficial situation. You're almost hoping the player fails. If he succeeds, you've got to go back through the whole thing again and now you're going to probably have to pay a lot of money. If he has a big year and you lose him in free agency, you've lost someone who became an integral part of your team and who you probably wanted to include in your team's future. In Shaw's and the Jaguars' case, it was a workable arrangement because Shaw was not a high-profile receiver who figured to break the bank a year later, and the Jaguars were in a desperate salary cap situation that left them seeking one-year patches until they could get their cap fixed. The situation is very different with Plaxico Burress. He may not be a premium receiver but he's the next notch down. He's a guy who makes big plays and though he may not get a break-the-bank deal, he'll get one that'll put him in the upper echelon of receivers. In my opinion, he and Andre Dyson are the available free agents of greatest interest. Something is going to pop soon on those two guys.

Charles from Jacksonville:
This question is about cheap teams. Are there any teams that don't spend all the money they are allowed under the salary cap? If the answer is no then how can any team be called cheap? By not giving big bonuses? If so, may the Jaguars be a cheap team.

Vic: We have come to identify teams as big spenders or cheap according to how much "cash over cap" they spend. "Cash over cap" is that amount of money that has been paid but has been amortized or pushed onto future years' caps. The Jaguars, for example, were a big "cash over cap" team. It's what got them into cap trouble. Now, they are much more conservative managers of their salary cap. Instead of exclusively paying "signing bonus," which is money that must be spread out evenly over the life of a contract, the Jaguars designate a lot of bonus money as "roster bonus," which is money that must be declared in full on that year's cap. It's a technique pioneered by the Eagles and it sure worked for them. Yes, the Jaguars use all of the cap space available to them in each year. What they're not doing is using future years' cap room for the current year. Does that make them cheap? Not in my book. I think it makes them smart. The Redskins are a big "cash over cap" team. Would you call them smart?

Eric from Jacksonville:
When are the seats at Alltel Stadium going to be covered? How many season tickets have been sold?

Vic: The covering of seats won't occur until right before the season begins, for the obvious reasons. When that occurs, the seating capacity of Alltel Stadium will be about 67,000. The Jaguars are about 3,000 season tickets sold ahead of last year's pace in March. Slightly fewer than 6,000 general-bowl season tickets remain available, with fewer than 1,000 of those in the upper deck. The Jaguars will withhold 5,000 tickets per game to offer in group sales. About 3,000 club-seat season tickets are available, and there are another 2,000 non-manifested tickets (seating for handicapped, obstructed-view seating, etc.) not included in the figures. What it all means is that the Jaguars have sold about 51,000 season tickets to date, pending one-year ticket-holder renewals.

Cody from Jacksonville:
How much more action should we expect from the Jaguars in free agency?

Vic: The Jaguars aren't done with free agency. I think you'll see them jump back in by the middle of next week. What they're doing right now is allowing for market adjustment. They have their ratings on the available players and they're waiting for price and value to meet. The key words are, "the right player at the right price." There are some guys out there who represent "the right player." Now it's a matter of getting them at "the right price."

Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
I read that the Colts are attempting to trade Edgerrin James. Given the future salary cap woes the Colts will inevitably face, is this a good move for the Colts or a bad one?

Vic: Getting return value for a star player is usually a good thing, but that's not the significance of the Edgerrin James trade-him, franchise-him debate. What we are witnessing, ladies and gentlemen, is the first dramatic sign of salary cap problems in Indianapolis. Now it begins.

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