Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Keith from Jacksonville:
Besides Hugh Douglas' $3.6 million remaining amortization, how much "dead money" is on the Jags' 2005 cap?
Vic: The Jaguars only have about $4.1 million in "dead money" on this year's salary cap. Your figure on Hugh Douglas is correct. Jermaine Lewis occupies about $367,000. The rest of the "dead money" is mostly "nickel and dime" operational stuff.
Chris from Albuquerque, NM:
Responding to the question of turning signing bonus into roster bonus, can you turn future years' salaries into present roster bonus? I know it doesn't help with older players, but with younger core players it could help with the cap in the future. Would players be receptive to this?
Vic: Yes, you can do that and players would be very receptive to that strategy because you would be turning non-guaranteed salary into guaranteed bonus. It's a way of pre-paying on future years' salary caps. It's a good strategy if you're a team on the rise that has lots of cap room, doesn't expect to be a playoff contender this year and the money you're guaranteeing is for a core player whose performance won't be compromised by getting his money up front.
Bharat from Jacksonville:
Many people say that when a running back hits 30, his productivity and such start to decline. Where do you see Fred Taylor in the grand scheme of things? I'm a big fan of his but could use an objective perspective.
Vic: Next year will be Fred Taylor's eighth year in the league. When a player begins to push a double-digit career, that's when you have to start watching for a fall-off. Everybody's not as ageless as Curtis Martin. Eddie George's eighth pro season was in 2003 when he went over 1,000 yards rushing for what will probably be the final time in his career. What Taylor does next season will go a long way toward defining his future as a feature back.
Cory from Sandy, UT:
Assuming Jimmy Smith continues to play at the level he has the last few years, which of the Jaguars' young receivers do you think will step up the most this upcoming season?
Vic: The guy for whom I continue to hold out hope and who I believe has genuine upside is Cortez Hankton. I'd like to see him get a legitimate shot at significant playing time.
Dave from Saint Marys, GA:
Can a new player with the Jaguars wear numbers of great players from the past whose numbers haven't been retired, such as 8, 71 and maybe 90? Is there a way to protect numbers without retiring them?
Vic: A lot of teams take numbers out of circulation. For example, the Steelers don't retire numbers and don't have a ring of honor, but 12, 32, 52, 58 and 75 haven't been used in regular-season action since their esteemed former owners wore them. I think that'll be the case with 8 and 71 for the Jaguars. I think it'll be a long time before you see someone wear those numbers again. I don't like retiring numbers because where do you draw the line? I like taking them out of circulation. That gets the message across.
Andrew from New York, NY:
What do you think of Tom Coughlin and what he did in the draft? We had a good team that was built through the draft and were Super Bowl contenders.
Vic: Tom Coughlin was an outstanding drafter in the first round. Coughlin was a needs drafter all the way and he was very good at matching need and value. Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson were all great first-round picks. I wish, however, Coughlin would've abandoned his needs philosophy in the later rounds. As the pool of available players shrinks, it clearly becomes more difficult to match need and value. In the later rounds, I think you absolutely have to go with the best player available. I prefer that philosophy in every round, but I think you can get away with needs drafting in the first and, maybe, the second rounds. After that, you're batting average is going to dip sharply by trying to manufacture players who address needs. We must give Coughlin credit for Stroud and Henderson, who are the foundation on which the Jaguars' current roster is built.
Eric from Jacksonville:
Is Kyle Brady going to be a part of the Jaguars next year?
Vic: Kyle Brady is due a $400,000 roster bonus on March 2. We'll have our answer then.
Chris from Ormond Beach, FL:
I noticed in your article that you said it would benefit teams to have the draft first and free agency after. Did the players union arrange for it to be opposite?
Vic: No, the dates for the start of free agency and the draft are not the result of players union manipulation. The draft was conducted right after the Super Bowl until the mid-'70's, when it was moved to a later date so that teams would have more time to gather information. That's when the scouting combine surfaced and, shortly after that, the draft became a major spring event. The high-profile free agency with which we are familiar today didn't occur until after the salary cap era began in 1993. The date we use for the start of free agency was chosen because it is the first day of the league calendar year, which is also the day interleague trading begins. In other words, it's a good time to start things. There have been discussions in recent years about moving the draft forward and pushing the start of free agency back, and I think you'll see the day when that occurs because the current order isn't conducive to making the best decisions.
Kevin from Cocoa, FL:
The Jaguars had the Texans and the Titans have nobody. Who did the Jaguars and Panthers bail out?
Vic: The rules were the same for the Jaguars-Panthers expansion draft, but the salary cap was only two years old at the time and nobody needed to be bailed out. Even at that, the Jaguars took an opposite approach to what the Texans did in 2002.
Greg from Chicago, IL:
I was wondering if the current moves by the Colts have set them up for what is happening to the Titans?
Vic: No question.