Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Ed from Jacksonville:
How much cap room will the rookie pool eat up this year and how will that impact the decision to cut Brackens and maybe Brunell?
Vic: The rookie pool of salary cap money will be about $4 million. It will have no impact on whatever decisions the Jaguars make on players already on the roster. The Jaguars are under the cap with the rookie pool figured in.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
What's your assessment of rookie defensive tackle Clenton Ballard? I seem to remember the Jaguars drafted him as a project and that he showed promise early in camp last summer. I realize it's not realistic to expect a rookie drafted in the later rounds to see significant playing time, but Ballard seemed to disappear off the radar screen altogether.
Vic: It's impossible to offer any kind of evaluation of Clenton Ballard because he saw no playing time last season. He struggled in training camp but was kept on the roster because he's a big man with a reasonable amount of athletic ability. He played small-college football and was probably overwhelmed last season. The Jaguars definitely need depth at defensive tackle and Ballard should get a solid look this summer.
Lynn from Jacksonville:
With regards to an earlier answer, besides the fact that Detroit is home, what do you refer to when you said the Detroit deal was "too good for Steve Mariucci to pass up?"
Vic: Start with the contract. How do you turn down $25 million? Steve Spurrier couldn't. Then you turn to the Lions' draft position; second overall. You can get a lot done with a pick that high; especially when you already have your quarterback of the future. And believe it or not, I think the Lions' roster is much better than the team's record. A new stadium in a big market with a fan base that's starved for a winner; Mariucci has a chance to be a hero. The Lions job is loaded with upside.
John from Tampa, FL:
I am one of the few Jags fans down here in Tampa who suffered through this last season with the rest of the Jags fans up there. It was sad to see coach Coughlin go, but I realize Wayne Weaver had to do what was best for the team. My question is: With the new coaching structure in place, how long do you think it will take for the team to come together and go all the way to the Super Bowl?
Vic: I wouldn't begin to think I could predict a Super Bowl title. What I will tell you is that, in my opinion, it's going to take at least two years for the new regime to rebuild the roster to a championship level. Logic demands that kind of patience.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
There has been a lot of talk about the new power structure Wayne Weaver has implemented in draft and personnel matters. Dennis Green made it seem like we are doing something totally off the wall. I would think the majority of teams have the same setup, as opposed to one man in total control of the draft and personnel. Am I wrong to think such a wild thing?
Vic: You are not wrong. Most teams are structured very similar to the Jaguars.
Joe from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I enjoy reading your "Ask Vic" portion of jaguars.com. I was wondering what you think will be the biggest change this year for the Jaguars? Will the defensive or offensive scheme be totally different? How will the personnel we currently have adapt to the new style? Thanks for your comments.
Vic: Change will be everywhere, but I have to believe the greatest change will be in personnel. New brooms tend to sweep cleanest.
Hicham from Dublin, OH:
What I'd like to ask is what Jimmy Smith, Fred Taylor and Mark Brunell's current situations are, as far as their contracts.
Vic: Jimmy Smith has several years remaining on his contract and is scheduled to be a $6.5 million hit on the Jaguars' 2003 salary cap; $3.35 million of that is salary. His remaining amortization is $10.2 million, an alarmingly high figure for a player who turned 34 yesterday. Fred Taylor has a year remaining on his contract. The Jaguars have to make a decision about negotiating a new deal with Taylor, or letting him test the free-agent waters next winter. Mark Brunell has two years remaining on his contract. He is scheduled to be an $8.75 million hit this year; $6.75 million of that is salary. What's best about Brunell's contract is that his remaining amortization is down to $4 million. That gives the Jaguars flexibility with Brunell that they don't have with Smith.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
What's the difference between unrestricted and restricted agents?
Vic: An unrestricted free agent has four accrued seasons in the league and, therefore, is free to negotiate with any team in the league. No compensation is owed by his new team to his former team, provided he has not been designated a "franchise player." A restricted free agent has three accrued seasons in the league and, therefore, may negotiate with any team in the league, but his original team may retain his services by matching any contract offer he receives. Depending on the player's draft status and his original team's level of tender, compensation may be owed to the original team by a team that acquires his services during the restricted free agent signing period.
Sandy from Jacksonville:
Has Jimmy Smith started to slow down or was it simply a bad year due to not having Keenan? I read that we can save a lot of money if we trade or cut Jimmy Smith after June 1. I remember you saying his contract won't allow it. What's the deal?
Vic: Your first question is really big. The Jaguars desperately need Jimmy Smith to be the player he was before last season; his contract demands that he perform to his previous level. Sandy, the Jaguars would take a big hit if they traded Smith, regardless of when they did it. All of Smith's remaining amortization would accelerate onto the 2003 salary cap. That means his hit would go from $6.5 million to $10.2 million in '03. If they cut him after June 1, they could stagger that $10.2 million over two seasons. Smith would then be a $3.1 million hit in '03 and a $7.1 million hit in '04. Yes, that would be a major savings in '03, but look at the "dead money" you'd be moving into '04. That's why I say his contract is prohibitive; too much amortization. Remember, you pay it, you claim it, and bonus amortization is money that's already been paid.