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Maybe it was Heidi

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

George from Drummonds, TN:
I read that this is the first year since 2001 that Tampa has a first-round draft pick since the John Gruden deal. What did Oakland do with the extra picks they received? Thanks in advance and love your work.

Vic: In 2003, the Raiders drafted Tyler Brayton, a defensive end from Colorado, with the 32nd pick of the draft. In 2002, the Raiders traded their first-round pick from Tampa Bay (21st) to Washington for the 18th pick of the draft, then traded that pick to Atlanta for the 17th overall choice. With that pick, the Raiders selected Phillip Buchanon, a defensive back from Miami. The Raiders also selected Langston Walker, an offensive tackle from California, with the 53rd pick of the draft, which also came from Tampa Bay.

Mike from Jacksonville:
What happened to the transition tag? When can it be used and why isn't it an option for Darius or Manning, since they are the two most talked about?

Vic: The "transition" can be used on any restricted or unrestricted free agent. Using it allows the player's original team to retain that player by matching any offer he receives from another team. If that player does not agree to an offer from another team, then he will remain with his original team, who must pay him the average of the top 10 salaries at his position in the league, or 120 percent of his previous season's salary cap hit, whichever is greater. In the case of Peyton Manning, he would be paid the same amount of money with the "transition" tag as he would with the "franchise" tag; 120 percent of last year's cap hit. The reason I believe teams shy away from using the "transition" tag is because it usually results in another team negotiating a contract you'll have to honor. If you can't negotiate your own contract, then maybe it's time to say goodbye.

Erika from Atwater, CA:
If a team uses its first-round pick in the draft to get the "the best available player" at the position needed most by said team, what would happen if the team paid millions of dollars to get this player and then he suffered a career-ending injury early in his first season or during preseason? Would all of that money spent on this player become "dead money," or would it be credited back toward the overall salary cap? Also, would the team be compensated for the loss with an extra draft pick in the following season?

Vic: Erika, there is no crying in football. Money gone, pick gone.

Michael from Georgia:
What is the average 40 time for defensive backs in the NFL?

Vic: Cornerbacks are probably in the 4.5 range; safeties 4.6.

Peter from Hoboken, NJ:
Who holds the NFL record for career interceptions?

Vic: Paul Krause with 81. Emlen Tunnel is next with 79 and Rod Woodson is third all-time with 71 interceptions.

Joe from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:
Vic, thanks for the salary cap series. What exactly is the formula for determining what the cap will be each year?

Vic: The Collective Bargaining Agreement provides for a specific percentage of the league's defined gross revenues in each year. In 2004, the salary cap ($80.5 million) is 64.75 percent of the gross. It was 64.25 last year.

Josh from Pittsburgh, PA:
Vic, since the Jags will be getting another third-round pick for Brunell, who is the Jags' best player they have ever drafted in the third round? Also, are there any third-round players in the Hall of Fame?

Vic: Aaron Beasley, Akin Ayodele and Vince Manuwai are clearly the Jaguars' best third-round selections. Take your pick. Joe Montana was a third-round pick.

Philip from Woodmere, NY:
I just wanted to show you something I found on "It's misspelled or mispronounced quite a few times," Roethlisberger said. "It's German." This is because I recall a post saying the name was Swiss after you said it was German. Therefore, you are validated and my faith in you is restored.

Vic: Maybe he was thinking of Heidi.

Steve from Sydney, Australia:
How beneficial is it for a rookie quarterback to spend a season on the sidelines watching the plays and learning the system (Carson Palmer), compared to throwing them into the action during their rookie year (Leftwich)? Are there any great quarterbacks who have not seen any action in their rookie year?

Vic: There's no one way to do it. Steve McNair was inactive in 12 games of his rookie season and didn't throw his first pro pass until the 14th game of that year. McNair didn't play in seven of the games in his second season, and didn't officially become the Titans' starting quarterback until the final game of his second season. In contrast, Peyton Manning has been the Colts' starting quarterback since the first game of his rookie season. McNair and Manning were co-MVPs in 2003.

Bob from Jacksonville:
During football seasons past, in your comments on the radio you have mentioned having "bottles on the shelf" with respect to bringing players along. Do you see indications of the new regime doing that?

Vic: It's "jars on the shelf," not bottles. We're storing food staples, Bob, not moonshine. Anyhow, yeah, I see some "jars." LaBrandon Toefield is a definite "jar." How about David Garrard, Kiwaukee Thomas, Danny Clark, Cortez Hankton, George Wrighster, Rob Meier, Lionel Barnes and Paul Spicer? They look like "jars" to me.

Sam from Largo, FL:
Good job with the cap 101 series. My question involves the preseason. What determines the schedules? And do all of the in-state teams play, like last season; the Jags played the Dolphins and the Bucs?

Vic: Previously, the individual teams made their own preseason schedules; now the league does it. One of the main criterion for preseason scheduling is geography. Other than for the games in Mexico, Japan, etc., the league wants to keep teams within their own regions, for obvious reasons. So, yeah, it makes perfect sense for the Jaguars to play Miami and Tampa Bay in the preseason. It also makes sense because Wayne Weaver has expressed an interest in hosting the Dolphins and Bucs in the preseason, because it makes the Jaguars' season ticket package more attractive.

Dylan from Lawrence, KS:
Why are the Jaguars thinking of cutting Tony Brackens? He was their leading tackler in 2003 and really helped give Jax a great run-defense. In my opinion, $7 million "dead money" is too much and Brackens should play. What is your opinion, Vic?

Vic: First of all, Tony Brackens wasn't the Jaguars' leading tackler; he was their leading sacker with six sacks. As far as his run-defense skills, that has never been Brackens' strength. He's built his reputation on making sacks and big plays. Anyhow, the current situation boils down to this: Brackens is a player with a bad knee, big salary and major remaining amortization. If ever there was a year to clear out that amortization, this is the year; the Jaguars' salary cap will allow it. And let's not forget the Jaguars have another couple of amortization issues they may have to address in the next year or two; Jimmy Smith and Hugh Douglas. In my opinion, clearing away Brackens' remaining amortization is one of the final steps in the Jaguars' salary cap repair efforts and it needs to be done.

Will from Colorado Springs, CO:
When the "franchise" tag is used, the team that tries to sign him has to give up two first-rounders to do so. Are the picks in the same year or are they counted in two consecutive years?

Vic: Consecutive years, and you have to have first-round picks in consecutive years to qualify as a "franchise player" suitor.

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