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Never do a bad deal

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

James from Jacksonville:
Tiger is the face of golf, Jordan was the face of the NBA, and Earnhardt is the face of Nascar. Who do you think is the face of the NFL?

Vic: In my opinion, it's Tom Brady. The NFL publishes a media manual every year – The NFL Record and Fact Book – and it's tradition that the Super Bowl MVP appears on the cover of that publication. Tom Brady, therefore, has gotten some face time in recent years on the NFL publication that promotes the player who it largely considers to be the face of the league. A lot of people would suggest Peyton Manning is the face of the league, but that's becoming more difficult for me to digest with each loss to Brady. Clearly, Brady is the guy the NFL is putting out there as the symbol of what's good about this league. He's the symbol of winning. He's the symbol of what a sixth-round draft choice can accomplish. He's the favorite and the underdog all rolled into one.

AuBrey from Montgomery, AL:
How does running back Greg Jones' future look? Do you think he will ever be a star back in the NFL? Will he even be the backup to Fred Taylor this season?

Vic: Greg Jones is the Jaguars' starting fullback. He will be asked to block a lot, catch a little and run seldom. New offensive coordinator Carl Smith made that clear to reporters following a practice last week. Jones will be used in short-yardage situations, but his days as a feature back are over. He needs to embrace his new role. It's his ticket to a long and productive career in the NFL.

Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
Why don't single-game tickets for regular-season games go on sale until Aug. 20?

Vic: Because the Jaguars are attempting to sell-out Alltel Stadium on a season-ticket basis. That's what the best franchises do; they sell-out their stadiums with season tickets. I think it would be safe to say selling-out Alltel Stadium with season-ticket holders is one of the top two goals of this franchise. The other, of course, is to win a Super Bowl. Some people might even tell you selling-out your stadium with season tickets is more important than winning a Super Bowl because filling the building with season-ticket holders is what gives a franchise long-term stability. It allows for a franchise to make all of its decisions based on one thing and one thing only; what's best for the football team. That's one of the big advantages franchises such as the Packers and Steelers enjoy. They never have to make a decision based on how it will impact ticket sales.

Kay from Houston, TX:
Do you think Brian Jones will play this season?

Vic: Brian Jones established himself last season as a young tight end with a lot of upside, especially in the passing game. He made an important touchdown catch in Minnesota last season, and I think it said something about the coaching staff's confidence in him that they would make him a prime target in such a critical late-season game. Jones got that opportunity because George Wrighster had been lost to a back injury. Wrighster is recovered and he and Jones will compete this summer to become the Jaguars' number one pass-catching tight end.

LeRoi from Cleveland, OH:
It's a young man's game, right? If George Allen were the head coach of the Jaguars, how would you and George Allen differ about him trading away his draft picks for older, more experienced players?

Vic: I'd be sick to my stomach. I might even have to find a new team to cover because, in my opinion, nothing is more hopeless and "suicidal" than trading away draft picks for older players who have only a few years left in their bodies. It's one thing when you sign a Hugh Douglas and lose salary cap room, but it's far worse if you trade away a draft choice to acquire a Hugh Douglas. Now, you've not only accepted a big salary cap hit, but you've rejected a less-expensive young player who might have developed into the long-term solution at that position. George Allen gave the Redskins some good years and an NFC title in 1972 with his "Over The Hill Gang." He brought in over-the-hill players such as Billy Kilmer and Jack Pardee and they gave Redskins fans a few years of fun and memories. When it was over, however, it was really over. The Redskins went through a real dry stretch as they rebuilt their roster, and teams didn't have free agency back then as they do now. The draft was the only real source of talent acquisition. The bottom line is that Allen couldn't do today what he did back then because the salary cap wouldn't allow it. Those older players would cost too much money and eat up too much cap room. Yes, it's a young man's game, especially in the salary cap era because the draft is the least expensive venue for player acquisition. When you build through the draft, you assure that your roster will be full of young, healthy and affordable talent.

Ben from Coventry, England:
What are the areas of concern for our division rivals?

Vic: The Colts' major concern, as always, is on defense. They just don't have the salary cap room to address it. The Colts took some wild shots on defense in the draft, which is a product of their desperation on that side of the ball. Houston has assembled a nice cast of players in four years. They have a franchise quarterback and a star-caliber wide receiver. They have a top, young cornerback and they used their first-round pick this season on a defensive tackle who has big-time upside. The Texans, however, haven't spent much of their first four drafts on big guys, which has forced them to spend a lot of money in free agency on their two lines. They are still the areas of concern; offensive and defensive lines. Tennessee is in an obvious rebuilding situation. Their concerns are mostly for the repair of their salary cap and the reconstruction of their roster.

John from Jacksonville:
If you're a team like the Jaguars, you think you're one or two players from a championship-caliber team and key players are available but aren't salary cap-friendly, what would you do?

Vic: I ascribe to the old credit card axiom: Don't buy on credit what you can't pay for in cash. In other words, I'm not signing anybody who's going to screw up my salary cap. Consider what the Eagles did with Terrell Owens last year. The Eagles needed a top wide receiver and Owens offered the potential to put the Eagles over the top, but he was going to cost a lot of money. The Eagles, however, being the great cap managers they are, structured Owens' bonus money so that $6.2 million of it was roster bonus, which had to be declared in full on last year's cap. As a result, the Eagles have very little bonus proration left on Owens, which safeguards the health of the Eagles' salary caps of the future. The Eagles were able to do this because they had salary cap room to spend. They had flexibility because they had put a greater emphasis on saving salary cap room than they had on spending salary cap room. Take care of the cap and the cap will take care of you. Never do a bad deal.

Brian from Jacksonville:
What are your expectations of the Jags' divisional opponents this season?

Vic: I'm going to look at this through what I believe are the eyes of their fans: The Colts need to take the next step, which means making it to the Super Bowl. The Texans should be playoff contenders. The Titans have to take the first steps of recovery and reconstruction.

Matt from Jacksonville:
What's the situation with Rich Alexis? I thought he flashed potential last year in preseason?

Vic: Alexis caught the Jaguars' eye in training camp practices as an undrafted running back who had some tackle-to-tackle quickness and running skills. He'll have a chance this spring and summer to build on that impression. That's where it's at.

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