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Nothing cap-friendly about it

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

Steve from Point Pleasant, WV:
Great column; I love your views on everything. Could you please explain how the compensatory draft picks are handed out for lost free agents from the previous year? Will Jacksonville get any compensatory picks? In contrast, how many picks will the Jets get with the raiding of their roster by the Redskins?

Vic: A player must have been on a team's roster when the free-agent period begins for the team that lost that player to be considered for compensation. The NFL employs a somewhat subjective system for awarding compensatory picks. The size of the player's contract is a big consideration. So is his performance. Then the league weighs what a team lost against what a team signed. For example, the Jaguars lost Zach Wiegert, John Wade, Bobby Shaw, Patrick Johnson, Wali Rainer, Todd Fordham and Stacey Mack, then signed a couple of pricey ones in Mike Peterson and Hugh Douglas, and additional free agents in Marc Edwards, Jermaine Lewis, Keith Mitchell, Donald Hayes, J.J. Stokes, Jamar Nesbit and James Trapp. Weighing what they lost against what they signed, and how much was spent on those players, we shouldn't expect the Jaguars to get anything more than one late-round compensatory pick, if that. In contrast, the Jets will receive major compensatory consideration for having lost Randy Thomas to the Redskins, but Laveranues Coles and Chad Morton were restricted free agents and the Jets were immediately compensated directly for having lost those two players. Coles resulted in the Redskins giving their first-round pick in 2003 to the Redskins; Morton returned the Redskins' fifth-rounder. The Jets were not active in signing free agents.

Pete from South Riding, VA:
Did Vic Carucci ask you to use "Ask Vic" before he stole it? Do you know how long he has been using it? I just noticed it the other day.

Vic: I know people who can change his mind.

Thiago from Madrid, Spain:
My question is about Ramsey, Fiedler and Kitna. It seems they won't be the starters for their respective teams. I don't see them sitting in the bench, so what do you think will happen to them?

Vic: They'll probably end up with other teams. Jon Kitna can help somebody right away. He was not just a guy for the Bengals last year. He did some special things. But Patrick Ramsey is the one who really interests me. I think he could become "The Man" for someone.

Johnny from Grand Rapids, MI:
I have an odd question, but I figured it would fit "Ask Vic" perfectly. When a rookie signs with a team, of course, he is excited about being drafted. But deep down he can't wait to get his money. How quickly does a player get paid?

Vic: If his contract includes a signing bonus, the money will be in his checking account before he calls his girlfriend with the good news.

Bjoern from Stockholm, Sweden:
Manning has a huge new contract. Is that deal going to wreck the Colts' cap or is it a cap-friendly deal?

Vic: Cap friendly? What part of Peyton Manning's $34.5 million signing bonus is cap-friendly? The amortization is staggering. What if he got hurt? What do you do with $25 million of "dead money?" We're talking about an average of $5.75 million in just prorated bonus amortization on each of the Colts' next six salary caps. Tom Brady was a $3.3 million total hit last season and he beat Manning twice. Jake Delhomme took Carolina to the Super Bowl, almost won the thing, and he was a mere $1.8 million hit. But let's forget about the salary cap for a moment. What about the real money? Where do the Colts get $34.5 million? Los Angeles? We're talking about a team in the bottom third of the league in market size, and with the league's smallest stadium. The Colts are one of the league's lowest-revenue teams, yet, they have just cut a deal that probably brought tears to Jerry Jones' eyes. The repercussions of this contract are too many to mention all of them, or maybe even to know all of them, but I can think of one right off the top of my head: Every team with a star quarterback can expect to pay a lot more money the next time they try to sign that guy to a contract. The Jake Delhommes of the NFL never looked better.

Patrick from Morgantown, WV:
So, can the Colts now use the "franchise" tag on someone else?

Vic: Excuse me for laughing, but I can't help but think that after the Manning deal the Colts couldn't afford the average of the top five salaries at the long-snapper position. But the answer to your question is, yes, they can use the "franchise" on someone else now because they had until March 17 to sign him and reclaim the tag. If he had signed the tender and the deal was signed after March 17, the "franchise" tag would've been lost to the Colts for the length of the contract Manning just signed.

Joe from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Who holds the NFL record for most career TD receptions? Who holds the Jaguars record? Who holds the record for most rushing TDs in Jaguars history? Love your article; I read every day, if possible.

Vic: Jerry Rice holds the record for most touchdown catches, 194. Cris Carter is next with 130 and Steve Largent is third with 100. Jimmy Smith is the Jaguars' all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 55. Keenan McCardell is next with 30, and Kyle Brady, Damon Jones and Pete Mitchell are tied for third with 11 each. Of course, Fred Taylor is the Jaguars' all-time rushing touchdowns leader with 46. James Stewart has 33 and Stacey Mack 19.

Jim from Tampa, FL:
With the trade of Brunell and release of Brackens, how much "dead money" do the Jags have on their salary cap for 2004 and 2005 (so far)?

Vic: About $9.5 million in 2004 and none in '05.

Aaron from Jacksonville:
I saw an article that says the Jaguars are probably going to re-sign Brackens. They cut him initially to avoid paying him his roster bonus. How much of this is true?

Vic: In my opinion, it would be naïve to think the Jaguars cut someone for the purpose of re-signing him. It could turn out that way, but only after Tony Brackens goes through free agency and finds out what his value is. If another team makes him a substantial offer, I have no doubt he'll take it. If it turns out no one is interested in signing him, then the Jaguars might offer Brackens a one-year deal. But I think we need to receive yesterday's news as it was presented. He was released.

Dylan from Lawrence, KS:
Thanks for making interesting during the offseason. I saw in the newspaper that Ray Buchanan was released from the Falcons. Do you think Jacksonville would be interested in him?

Vic: I've also been asked the same question about Marcellus Wiley, Chad Bratzke and some other veteran players who've been released. Sure, the Jaguars' pro personnel department will look at all of these players, but I must caution you about getting too excited about every name you recognize that all of a sudden becomes available. There's a reason these guys are available. If you think you can re-claim a player's career, and he's affordable, it may be worth a shot. But keep it to a minimum because the percentages are not on your side. J.J. Stokes' name jammed my e-mail box for most of last spring.

Franz from Toronto, Ontario:
I'm a Jaguars fan living here in Toronto. I've been a Jags fan since their first year in 1995. My question is, who clearly is the best corner in the draft and which corner do you think has the best chance to fall to the Jags number nine pick? I think the Jaguars should embody their franchise after the Patriots. Build in the draft and less in the free-agent market. Thanks a lot and keep up the great column.

Vic: The cornerback crop is extremely deep, but there doesn't appear to be that one guy who's a definite top-10 pick. Chris Gamble of Ohio State and DeAngelo Hall of Virginia Tech are considered to be the top two guys, and they would seem to fall somewhere between 10 and 15, so they're clearly in the Jaguars' neighborhood. I favor Hall because he is a lights-out punt-returner.

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