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Never about short term

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

Mark from Kansas City, MO:
You know better than to just throw a name like Julian Peterson out there like that. Now your mailbox will be flooded with, "What are the chances we could land him?" So, what are the chances we could land him?

Vic: Got you excited, huh? The problem is that Julian Peterson was the 49ers' "franchise" player last year and it's likely they'll "franchise" him again this year. I don't have any information that they will but I have to believe they will since they've just hired a head coach who's a defensive guy and he's going to install a 3-4. But Peterson is on the list of prospective free agents and people keep asking me about who the Jaguars should sign, so, I said they should sign him. That's why I keep writing that it's somewhat futile to get involved in all of this free-agent talk until the tags deadline has expired. Even then, teams can still sign a guy before free agency begins on March 2.

Art from Glenolden, PA:
Do you think the Jags would go after Brian Westbrook, even though he's an RFA?

Vic: The Eagles haven't tendered Brian Westbrook, yet, but I suspect they'll hit him with one of the high tenders. They could tender him at first-round compensation, which means Westbrook would get a $1.4 million salary in 2005, or they could even tender him at first and third-round pick compensation, which would earn Westbrook a $1.9 million salary in '05. The low tender would allow a team to sign him for third-round compensation and that would probably cause someone to do a deal. The Eagles, of course, could match, but what if the deal was a biggie. No, I think the best way to go is a high tender offer to Westbrook. He's one of those few restricted free agents who has made the Pro Bowl and commands high tender value.

Chris from Jacksonville:
I've been watching Ciatrick Fason since his days at Fletcher High School and he's a big back that can really do some damage. Your thoughts?

Vic: I think he's an outstanding talent and should be a definite draft consideration. What I like best about Ciatrick Fason is that he's shown the ability to catch the ball and be a very effective screen runner.

Carter from Fernandina Beach, FL:
We're about to enter the NFL's "silly season," when the combine starts and the names on the draft boards start getting shuffled like playing cards. I realize the draft is all about futures but I have a tough time rationalizing guys vaulting up the draft board or falling out of bed based on what he does in shorts in Indianapolis. I know that what we see in the mock drafts isn't the same as what goes on with "Shack" and the personnel folks, but isn't the idea to find football players and not track stars or weightlifters?

Vic: You're right; it's about finding football players. That's why the Jaguars do what they call their "initial stacking" before they go to the combine. In other words, they do their draft board before the combine, then use what they saw at the combine to massage their draft board. If you wait until after the combine to do your draft board, there's a tendency to weight the combine results too heavily. It's important to give the greatest consideration to what you saw in the fall.

Johnny from Jacksonville:
I love this column and try to read it every day. My question is about a couple of players I was hoping would have an impact last season but fell to injuries. Do you have any information on Jorge Cordova and Paul Spicer?

Vic: I talked to Paul Spicer a couple of weeks ago and he said his leg is fine and that the team should've taken his advice and not put him on injured reserve because he said he could've returned before the season was over. In regards to Jorge Cordova, I know of no red flags in his ACL rehab. The thing we must remember, however, is that Cordova is a speed player and he has to be allowed time to get back that step ACL guys temporarily lose.

Hasso from Jacksonville:
It's good to know I'm not the only person in this world who thinks Rob Pettiti is going to be a very good player in the NFL, but you forgot to mention that in 2000 he shut down Dwight Freeney. He was the heaviest player in the Senior Bowl and he has very long arms, which really helps him in pass protection. He doesn't have attitude problems, he's durable, has all of the measurables and has a lot of experience. Why is this guy projected to be a third or fourth-rounder?

Vic: He's not the most athletic guy. He's more of a technician, but he's not a stylist either. He just gets it done.

Alex from Jacksonville:
Do you think a corner is worth going for in the first round? Who are the top corners in the draft, in your opinion?

Vic: One cornerback in particular, Marlin Jackson of Michigan, interests me. I think Jackson would be a great pick for the Jaguars. Jackson is a top corner who has also played safety at Michigan, which means he can play zone and you have to be able to play zone in today's game. I have to believe Jackson would be a consideration for the Jaguars.

John from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I got an interesting letter from the Jaguars yesterday announcing, yet, another ticket-price decrease for my season tickets next year. The team is making every effort to fill Alltel Stadium and give the Jaguars the best possible homefield advantage. What other teams go to these extremes and at what point is this town going to support our team?

Vic: I have never known a team to spend more effort in marketing their product and in satisfying their ticket-holders than the Jaguars have. I also have every hope Alltel Stadium will be full for every game in 2005.

Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
Did you catch any of the Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse game on Monday night? You were right about Chevon Troutman. He ran a stop-and-go with 11 seconds left to shake loose the defender on the inbound and received the ball down the court, just like an NFL tight end would. Do you think the Jaguars should look at him during the second day of the draft?

Vic: Yes, I did watch the game and I saw the play to which you're referring. Yeah, it was a pretty athletic play for a 6-7 guy, but catching the ball on the basketball court and catching a pass over the middle with Rodney Harrison in your face are two different things. Chevy Troutman could be the next Antonio Gates, or he could get cut in half going over the middle and decide Europe would be a great place to play basketball. Either way, I think he might be worth a seventh-round pick to find out. We're talking about a very athletic kid. He's also one of those rare kids who comes from an extremely harsh background but has somehow managed to smile through it all.

Daniel from Orlando, FL:
Do you think the best coaches are the best because of their coaching ability or because of their ability to draft and acquire the best talent?

Vic: I don't care how good of a coach you are, if you don't have players, you don't have a chance. How many Super Bowl titles do you think Bill Belichick would've won without Tom Brady? Don Shula was never the same after Joe Thomas left Miami. In my opinion, the guy who picks the players is the most important man in the franchise. When it's a combined effort, it says something about the franchise's ability to communicate and function as a team.

Ryan from Vancouver, BC:
In regards to the article you wrote about the Jags spending big and putting it all on the table now or spend small amounts and go for a long-term project, in my opinion I would go for the long-term project. What do you think is better for the Jags and why?

Vic: I believe you take care of the future and the future will take care of the present. I am a firm believer in the long term; never the short term.

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