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Long-term strategy

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

Paul from Jacksonville:
Kyle Brady is one of my favorite Jaguars, but what makes him a draft-day story?

Vic: Kyle Brady is one of the all-time draft-day stories. Here's why: Bill Belichick was the coach of the Cleveland Browns in 1995 and Belichick had his heart set on drafting Brady with the 10th pick and consensus of opinion was that no team ahead of the Browns was interested in Brady. Belichick just sat there and waited for his turn but, out of the blue, the Jets selected Brady with the ninth pick. Belichick was stunned. He was so shaken he couldn't make a pick at 10. He ended up making a bad trade that dropped the Browns from 10 to 30 and then used that pick on Ohio State linebacker Craig Powell, who became a huge bust. Belichick went on to make five trades in that draft and came away with veritably nothing to help his team that year. After the season was over, Belichick was fired and the Browns moved to Baltimore and the first-round trade Belichick made with San Francisco in '95 provided the Ravens with the pick they used to select Ray Lewis.

Ryan from Hamilton, Ontario:
Well, now that Tagliabue is gone, we can officially start the campaign: Vic Ketchman for commissioner.

Vic: The first thing I'd do is take the skirts off the quarterbacks.

Jim from Jacksonville:
If the media stopped writing stories about Terrell Owens, many of us would be thankful. It's not about what the fans want to read, it's what the media thinks the fans want to read.

Vic: You're wrong. I get tons of questions about Terrell Owens every day and I delete them. Don't blame this one on the media. No person or subject produced more questions to "Ask Vic" this winter than Terrell Owens.

Sharon from Port Charlotte, FL:
I find it sad you can't enjoy a game and leave your work where it belongs, at work. It's also sad you get so stressed. I could read it in your reply.

Vic: You're a psychologist? You were able to get all of that out of my response in yesterday's column? Well, you're wrong, too. I watch football intently because that's what I do for a living. This is my job and I don't know why fans have trouble accepting that. Some men dig coal. I write stories about football. We use the money we earn, however, on the same things; college tuitions and orthodontists. When I watch a game, I watch it for the purpose of acquiring information. I watch it for the purpose of being able to communicate that information to readers. I don't get paid to cheer; I get paid to observe.

Lyle from Honolulu, HI:
Could you tell me the plans the Jags have for Chad Owens?

Vic: They plan to provide him the opportunity to compete for a place on the roster as a wide receiver and punt-returner. The rest is up to him. He was sensational last spring and last summer. I'm looking forward to seeing him do it again and, this time, carry it into the regular season.

Mark from Yulee, FL:
Now that Henderson is signed, how are the Jags financially? Do you think they are more inclined to make a few more signings of any significance?

Vic: The Jaguars were $16 million under the salary cap after having signed John Henderson to a long-term contract. Put about $4 million aside for the rookie pool. Clearly, the Jaguars have room to sign more players and they will, but they won't throw money around recklessly. Only fools do that. Smart teams don't think in terms of this year's cap and next year's cap. They think in terms of all caps. They only spend their money on players they consider to be worth the expense and if they have room left at the end of the year, they execute a strategy to move it forward into the next year. That's one of the reasons the Jaguars have as much room as they do.

Mark from Yulee, FL:
This coaching staff plays everything so close to the vest and never lets any information slip, that I am amazed your guesses are as close to the pin as they are.

Vic: They're not guesses. I snoop. That's what reporters do. We spy. Coaches and personnel guys aren't going to spill their guts. This is a highly secretive business; it always has been and I understand the reasons. At Tuesday's John Henderson press conference, we asked James Harris three or four different ways if he was interested in using the Jaguars' cap space to sign Lavar Arrington. He began each response with, "We will continue to monitor." A lot of people say to me, why didn't you ask this or ask that? Because I know what they're not going to answer. You gotta snoop.

Spencer from Richmond, VA:
Why don't you answer my questions? Do you not like people from Virginia?

Vic: My best friend is from Virginia so it must be something else.

Tom from Melbourne, FL:
There was something eerily poetic about your description of how you watch football; like an obsession of sorts, compelling you to glean every possible bit of information from each play. Your knowledge of football leaves you in an odd isolation, a tier reserved only for you and others with similar professions. Is it that you went behind the curtain and now the magic is gone? Or simply that the joy received from watching the game is so intrinsic and so deep that on a personal level it is difficult to share with others.

Vic: I like to watch.

Greg from Jacksonville:
I've been out of the country for a few weeks and returned to learn there's a new CBA. Could you please explain the ramifications of it? It's pretty complicated, isn't it?

Vic: No, it's really very simple. Gene Upshaw said "stick 'em up" and as the owners stood with their hands in the air, the players emptied their pockets.

Ernie from Jacksonville:
I was speaking with a friend about John Henderson's new deal and my friend said he was surprised they re-upped him, what with Stroud's deal and Rob Meier's deal. He thought they would have to let Henderson go as a "business decision." My retort was that if your salary cap is under control, you don't have to make those "business decisions" very often. Am I getting it, Vic? You have taught us well.

Vic: You're absolutely getting it. Now let me take you a step further. The Jaguars had cap room to sign John Henderson because it was part of a long-term cap-management strategy. They had room to sign Henderson because they had spent the previous three years front-loading deals with roster bonuses instead of signing bonuses, for example. Instead of squeezing every cent out of the 2003, '04 and '05 caps and spending that money in those years, the Jaguars pre-paid on future caps, thus providing the room they'd need to do guys such as Henderson, Marcus Stroud, Rashean Mathis, Donovin Darius, Reggie Hayward and Brian Williams long-term. Look at that defense. It's loaded with big-money guys, yet, the Jaguars still have $16 million of cap room. How did they do it? By not spending like fools on players and years that weren't worth the expense. The Jags are doing an exceptional job of managing their salary cap. When I hear fans complain that the Jaguars aren't spending enough in free agency, I get sad. They'll never get it.

Trey from Dundalk, MD:
Who was the Jaguars' second overall pick in our inaugural season?

Vic: The Jaguars traded the 31st pick of the 1995 draft to Kansas City for the Chiefs' 19th overall choice, then used that pick to select James Stewart. The Chiefs used the 31st pick to select offensive tackle Trezelle Jenkins.

Zach from Boston, MA:
Is it just me or is wide receiver the most overrated position in the NFL? Look at the Patriots, they basically have five number three guys. Look at the Eagles, they made it to the NFC title game three years in a row with some of the worst wide-outs I've ever seen and made it to the Super Bowl with T.O. on the bench. So, maybe when we say the Jags need a play-maker on offense, we should look at a position other that wide receiver.

Vic: I wanna say wide receivers are a dime a dozen. I wanna say they should be made to pay to play. I won't say those things, though, out of respect for a lot of great receivers I've had the privilege to cover. Let me put it this way: Give me a choice between a premium left tackle and a star wide receiver, and I'll take the tackle.

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