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Must turn a deaf ear

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

William from Jacksonville:
Dawkins, Polamalu, Reed and Wilson are four of the best safeties in the league. Is this a coincidence or a necessity for success in today's game?

Vic: The role of the safety has increased dramatically in recent years, for one obvious reason: He's the unblocked defender, which means he's the guy with whom defensive coordinators can be most creative. The bottom line is that if your safety isn't a star on your defense, then you need another safety because he has become the featured player on most defenses in the league. Move him here, move him there, move him to where the ball is. That's what coordinators are doing with their safeties. They are, in most cases, great run-and-hit athletes that can make game-changing plays. In the "old" days, the safety was seen as a last-line-of-defense centerfielder. He was considered the easiest player on the field to replace, but that has changed in recent years because of the featured role safeties are being put in.

Matthew from Bartow, FL:
The Rams couldn't hire Haslett without interviewing a minority coach due to the Rooney Rule, so why can Indy give the job to Caldwell without interviewing a white coach?

Vic: You're mixing apples and oranges. Jim Caldwell was a coach in waiting, just as Jim Mora was in Seattle. The league likes continuity, so it doesn't apply the Rooney Rule in cases of coaches in waiting replacing coaches who have retired, such as Caldwell replacing Tony Dungy and Mora replacing Mike Holmgren. Haslett doesn't qualify as a coach in waiting because Scott Linehan was fired.

Paul from Stockbridge, GA:
Why do you think people get so excited about free agency every year, when the end results are typically extremely underwhelming?

Vic: I suppose the answer is that fans are bored and are looking for something to excite them and free agency involves players with name recognition and that excites fans. That's the best I can do in providing an answer because, frankly, I don't get it, either. Expensive free agency, in my opinion, is a trap for fools. I have always believed that and have always expressed that belief. I would go on vacation for the first week of free agency. When I return, I'd take a look at what was left and see if anybody from the bargain rack interests me. If not, I'd move on to the draft without any regrets.

Paul from Jacksonville:
Is the Jags' willingness to let so many players go through free agency a veiled attempt to get compensatory draft picks?

Vic: I don't think it's veiled. I think it's obvious. The hope is that the ones you don't want to re-sign will get huge contracts with other teams, which will increase your draft compensation the following year.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I didn't pick up what position Trey played for the Gators in the 1/14 "Ask Vic?" He kept saying "we," as if he suited up on Saturdays.

Vic: It reminds me of one of my favorite stories. I had a friend a long time ago who did high school games on radio. He was a great guy and renowned in the community for his passion for high school sports, particularly for one high school, whose basketball game he was broadcasting one night when he came of the opinion that the officials were favoring the other team. He uttered these immortal words: "Ladies and gentlemen, in the opinion of this unbiased reporter, we are getting screwed." Every so often I'll think of it and it still makes me laugh.

Mike from Jacksonville:
As for Smith's strategy, bring it. We are team strikeout right now. His approach squares up with the Steelers' and Patriots' approach, in my view, and what's not to like about that other than a less exciting offseason?

Vic: That's what people are gonna complain about. They're gonna moan and groan that the Jaguars are letting players slip through their fingers. They're going to accuse Wayne Weaver of being cheap. March is going to come and go and the fans that applauded the excitement and controversy that last March's acquisitions caused are going to be in panic mode due to the Jaguars' reluctance again to throw millions of dollars away. That's when you need to be like the Steelers and Patriots and turn a deaf ear because the same people who applaud the moves you make in free agency in March are the same people who'll rip you in the fall if those moves meet with failure.

Logan from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I'm going to start a tally sheet here on my desk at work and count how many times this offseason someone asks a draft-related question and receives a response along the lines of "BAP, or trade down and recoup the value of the pick."

Vic: It's amazing how many times I have to say it. Why do people struggle with the concept of draft the best available player or trade down and recoup the value of the pick? It's not Einsteinian theory and it's not as though I haven't been saying it for years.

Benjamin from Jacksonville:
In your opinion, Sensabaugh hasn't played well enough to keep his job? He's been the epitome of the draft and develop philosophy. How is keeping Sensabaugh not a better alternative to finding a replacement in free agency?

Vic: Part of the process is being willing to let your own players leave. You evaluate and you make decisions based on those evaluations.

Mike from Jacksonville:
Obviously, left tackle is a huge need, however, would you be OK with drafting someone other than a tackle in the first round if the personnel department felt a player was ranked higher?

Vic: Yeah, I'd be OK with that, or trading down and recouping the value of the pick.

Steve from Springfield, PA:
What is considered a "street free agent?"

Vic: He's a player's who has gone through the draft, signed an NFL contract with a team, has been cut and remains unsigned by another team. You can't become a "street free agent" until you've gone through the draft.

Bo from Orlando, FL:
It seems every red-shirt sophomore and junior in college football is coming out this year, likely because of the CBA uncertainty. This means there should be an above-average crop of undrafted free agents. What are your thoughts on this?

Vic: This should be a great draft; deep with talent at a lot of positions. It probably means this will be a great year not to have a high pick, since the top talent level is likely to reach all the way through the first round. The deeper that talent level reaches, the more it pushes good players into undrafted free agency, and that means it'll be critical for teams to access a pool of talent that, in most years, wouldn't be available.

Austin from Jacksonville:
The Cowboys seem like they are going to release T.O. Should the Jaguars try to pick him up?

Vic: No.

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