Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
James from Jacksonville:
Long-time reader, first-time writer. How do the Redskins keep getting all these high-priced players and stay under the salary cap?
Vic: The answer is simple: They keep pushing the burden into future years. The contract to which Clinton Portis and the Redskins have reportedly agreed is a perfect example of pushing money into the future. The deal is said to include $17 million in signing bonus and option bonus money. Signing bonus and option bonus must be amortized evenly over the remaining years of the contract. For example, a $10 million signing bonus on a five-year deal results in $2 million of prorated amortization on each year's salary cap. Option bonus is money to be paid at a later date. If the money isn't paid, the player is free from his deal. If a $2 million option bonus is paid in year two of that five-year deal, then $500,000 will be assigned to the salary cap in each remaining year of the contract. You see what's happening? The amortization of the bulk of the bonus money is getting pushed to the back of the deal. So, if we're going to structure a deal that's most favorable for our team in the first year of the contract, we're going to use those salary cap techniques that require money to be spread out over the life of the deal, such as signing bonus and option bonus, and avoid those means that require money to be declared in full in the year it's paid, such as salary and roster bonus. We structure a deal that includes signing bonus and option bonus, and limits this year's salary to minimum wage. I don't know the particulars to the Redskins-Portis deal, but I'll bet it's close to what I've just described. It's perfectly legal, but there will be a price to pay in the future. Read "Salary Cap 101."
Troy from Murrieta, CA:
I just watched the "Reporter's Corner." I agree with you that Ben Roethlisberger is the top quarterback prospect. Now I have a couple of questions. Say you made the drafting decisions for the Jaguars and at the number nine spot was Kevin Jones. Do you take him, even though we have a talented running back already in Fred Taylor?
Vic: If you don't want to take a running back and it just so happens a running back is clearly the best player available, then it's time to work the phones. Who wants this guy? The Steelers sit at number 11 and they really want a running back. Give them a call. There are other teams who need a back, too, and they know they'd have to probably get ahead of the Steelers to get their guy. If the player available is as good as we think, we might have a sweepstakes situation going on. But sometimes it doesn't work that way. Sometimes you have to make the tough decision between fortifying a position that doesn't appear to need it, or drafting a lesser player because he happens to play a position where you have a perceived need. Then you have to ask yourself this question: Do I have a crystal ball? Can I predict that my star running back won't get hurt and that someone where I think I'm weak won't develop into the player I need? I believe very strongly in drafting the best available player – or adjusting the pick so it fits a player of need – because I don't believe in crystal balls.
George from Drummonds, TN:
Jacksonville gave up a seventh-round pick for safety Anthony Mitchell. Could you pass along his stats and do you believe his production was worth the seventh-round pick? Thanks in advance and enjoy your views.
Vic: The trade with Baltimore for Anthony Mitchell involved a sixth-round pick, but Mitchell had to play 35 percent of the Jaguars' defensive downs for the Ravens to get the pick. Mitchell did not meet the play-time requirement, so the Jags keep the pick. But you raise an interesting question. There are two trains of thought: 1. Make the trade because you're getting a better player than you could expect to get with the pick; 2. Don't make the trade because you know what you're getting – usually a marginal player for a late-round pick – but you don't know what the draft pick might produce; remember, Terrell Davis was a sixth-round pick. Again, we need the crystal ball. But it makes for spirited debate. By the way, Mitchell was the Jaguars' second-leading special teams tackler with 16. On defense, he contributed 10 tackles and a pass-defensed.
Vijay from Montreal, Quebec:
I was very excited for the start of March to see the collapse of the Titans. I thought they'd have to cut a lot of their stars to get under the cap. This didn't happen, as they restructured a lot of contracts and now they are even keeping McCareins and Bennett! By looking at their roster, I know they're going to be the same old Titans, but please give me some good news for their future, and how their salary cap problem is looking now.
Vic: I don't know what you mean by "good news," so I'll just give you what I believe to be the truth. Teams in the Titans' situation experience a slow drain on their rosters as they struggle each year to get under the cap. The Titans have lost a lot of key players in recent years. This year, of course, it appears they're going to lose Jevon Kearse. The personnel losses will continue until the cap problem is fixed and, frankly, I don't see that the Titans have even begun that process. They're still pushing money out, which means they'll run into this same problem next March and every March after that until they decide enough is enough, gut the roster and commit to salary cap repair and roster reconstruction. How do you wanna die? The slow way or all of a sudden?
Jordan from Lincoln, NE:
Assuming we use our first-round pick on a position other than wide receiver, do you think Lee Evans is worthy of our second-round choice?
Vic: I don't profess to know what the Jaguars think of Lee Evans, but, in my opinion, he's a perfect example of the depth at the wide receiver position that could cause teams wanting to draft a wide receiver to delay that quest until the later rounds. In the case of teams high in the first round, the depth at wide receiver could cause them to trade down and get an extra pick. It's all about supply and demand, and this year's draft class is heavy in supply. As a result, after the first wave of wide receivers, there's not a premium at the position. The premium this year is on "big guys." By the way, Evans is a player coming off an ACL. He may not have made it all the way back last season, which means his draft ranking could turn out to be lower than his future value, which could make him a major bargain in this year's draft. He's an intriguing prospect.
In identifying "core players" yesterday, I mistakenly omitted Brad Meester's name. Meester is clearly one of the "core players" for the Jaguars' future.