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Players win, not X's and O's

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

Scott from Columbus, GA:
Prior to drafted players signing their deals, how are they compensated by the team for participating in mini-camp and OTA's? Does a first-rounder receive more than a fifth-rounder?

Vic: Their expenses are provided but they are not compensated.

Jay from Springdale, AR:
I am not very clear on how the NFL uses NFL Europe. I know each team sends some players over to what amounts to a minor league, but I don't know how many from each team or any of the other criteria. I also noticed on some of the broadcasts that some players don't seem to represent any NFL teams (they have no NFL insignia on the front of their jersey.) Could you clear up how the system works?

Vic: Each NFL team may allocate as many players as it wishes, with the team getting a roster exemption for each player it allocates, up to 10. A team may receive an 11th roster exemption for signing an NFL Europe "national" player, which is a player from a country other than the United States. As for players who are not affiliated with the NFL: There's a dispersal draft for non-allocated players.

Foxy from Dallas, TX:
Why are they being close-lipped about Marcellus Wiley's signing bonus and salary? I'm a huge fan and was wondering how much they offered him to go there. So low he's embarrassed and doesn't want it discussed, or so high someone might be upset?

Vic: Yeah, it's all a conspiracy to hide the news. Or maybe you just missed it, huh? In either case, here are the facts: Marcellus Wiley signed a one-year contract with a $125,000 signing bonus and $665,000 in salary.

Alan from Jacksonville:
You seem to have been inundated with e-mails regarding possible big-name, free-agent signings only to reject practically all of them. So are there any big-name free agents; heck, any free agents out there that would spark your interest?

Vic: I'm not against signing free agents, provided they represent an upgrade at a position where there isn't a younger player of equal ability. I happen to believe that in most cases, especially at this late date of free agency, the guys who come free aren't any better than what you already have on your roster, and if you sign some old guy only because of name recognition, you end up retarding the development of young players who have greater upside. In my opinion, that's exactly what would happen if the Jaguars signed a washed-up, veteran cornerback. Young guys such as Scott Starks wouldn't progress as quickly. Starks made a beautiful play in breaking up a pass in Tuesday's practice. He broke on the ball with a burst and knocked it down. When I see something like that, it makes me want to be patient. I don't like old, washed-up players. What was gained at right cornerback last season?

Shon from San Antonio, TX:
It's good that you continue to give fans insight on the talented list of players we have. We can't keep them all. Who do you foresee as a June casualty?

Vic: The Jaguars don't have any players who would be considered "June cut" candidates. That doesn't mean they won't cut a guy or two in June, it just means they won't fit the definition of a "June cut" kind of guy.

Robby from Jacksonville:
I've noticed that you have commented on the health of the Jaguars salary cap. You have also commended New England and Philadelphia for their salary cap management as well. My question is, why is it that there are some teams like Washington that are in what seems like never-ending salary cap trouble? Do they have poor cap managers or just not care? What's the deal?

Vic: Why do some people make the minimum monthly payment on their credit cards, and still continue to buy on credit? I guess they just can't discipline their desires.

Hal from Jacksonville:
Are there any team sports without a salary cap?

Vic: Baseball doesn't have a salary cap, and some would say hockey missed a whole season because it doesn't have a salary cap. Baseball has what's called a "luxury" or "sin" tax, in which teams that spend over a certain amount of money on payroll are required to pay a certain amount that is re-distributed among the teams, with the lower-spending teams getting more than the higher-spending teams. That's an interesting concept, but if the big-spenders have so much that the tax is no obstacle, then what good is it? The only way to truly level the playing field is to enforce a salary cap. It's not very American, but it works.

Geoff from NSW, Australia:
I know how good Peyton Manning's stats are but I am sick of hearing how good he would be with that Patriots defense. How good would Tom Brady be if he had the arsenal of weapons at wide receiver that the Colts have? Why doesn't anyone ever ask this question?

Vic: You're right. Peyton Manning has first-round picks at both wide receivers, tight end and running back. In what will be Tom Brady's sixth year with the Patriots, the team has never invested a first-round pick in a wide receiver or running back.

Ryan from Toronto, Ontario:
There's a lot said about how Del Rio is a great motivator. While that may be true, doesn't it really come down to X's and O's? How would you rate Del Rio as an X's and O's guy?

Vic: He's a former defensive coordinator. What do you think? You don't get to that position without knowing football strategy. In my opinion, the most critical quality a coach must possess is his ability to identify, fit and utilize talent. X's and O's don't win. Players win, and you better know them when you see them and know how to use them when you have them. Jack Del Rio has impressed me at having a lot of energy for free agency and the draft. He enjoys the talent evaluation and acquisition processes and I think he has a keen eye for talent. Just look at the decisions he's made over his first couple of years. I don't see any examples of having cut the wrong guy.

Alex from Jacksonville:
Would you consider R. Jay Soward to be the biggest first-round draft pick bust for a wide receiver?

Vic: Are you kidding? R. Jay Soward was the 29th pick of the 2000 draft. It's not as though he was a top-10 pick. Peter Warrick was the fourth pick of that year's draft. Travis Taylor was the 10th pick of that draft. Were they mistakes? David Terrell was the eighth pick of the 2001 draft and Charles Rogers was the second pick in 2003. Go all the way back to 1995, when Michael Westbrook was the fourth pick. Desmond Howard was the fourth pick of the 1992 draft. The road is littered with wide receiver busts and you don't have to leave the top 10 to find them.

Rob from Richmond, VA:
How many wide receivers do you think the team will keep on the roster?

Vic: Five.

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