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Salary cap flexibility

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

Mark from Ft. Smith, AR:
Am I the only one who has noticed Matt Jones' tendency to hit the turf as soon as he makes a catch? Do you think this is a leftover QB thing or is he afraid of taking a hit? He is magic running the ball but I see no effort on his part to do so.

Vic: Give the kid a chance. Right from the beginning, the expectations have been ridiculous. He's learning a new position at the same time he has to acclimate himself to the most competitive and demanding league in football. What he faced at Arkansas was kids stuff compared to what he's facing now.

Marty at Gulf Shores, AL:
Thanks so much for your well-wishes to all the storm victims; it meant a lot. The loss and devastation, however, has done nothing to dampen our excitement for this upcoming Jaguars season. I know a lot of people say that when something like this happens it puts sports into its proper perspective. I agree to an extent, but I also believe sports helps all of us heal.

Vic: I'm just happy to start seeing the names of your hometowns coming into my e-mail again.

Ben from Phoenix, AZ:
When the Jaguars cut a guy like Tony Williams or Nate Wayne, who they paid signing bonuses of $500,000 and $250,000 respectively, does it say to you that this is a team doing a bad job of signing free agents, one that doesn't feel constrained by the cap in its decisions, or is it somewhere in between?

Vic: You don't sign players to cut them. I think it has to be acknowledged that cutting guys to whom you paid bonus money to sign represents a degree of waste. Yeah, that jumps out at me a little bit, but the real message in cutting Troy Edwards, Tony Williams, Nate Wayne, Fu and Brent Smith is that the Jaguars' salary cap now offers the team the flexibility to make roster decisions based mostly on performance. That wasn't the case a few years ago and it was a problem. How do you promote competitive spirit when a player knows you can't cut him. I've read where people have complained that Jack Del Rio hasn't been true to his "the best players will play" mantra. Well, these cuts, in my opinion, are proof of Del Rio's commitment to his "best players" philosophy. Edwards, Williams, Wayne, Fu and Smith represent $1.65 million in bonus money paid last spring that is now on the books as "dead" money. It's that way because those players lost the competition.

Mario from Oviedo, FL:
I just saw the news that the Jags signed a linebacker from the Seahawks? Do you think he might give the coaching staff a couple of hints and secrets about the Seahawks defense for the opener?

Vic: I'm sure he will. That kind of thing has become rather routine. Not too long ago, however, it was a no-no. When I started covering the NFL, there was somewhat of an unwritten rule that coaches would not claim players cut by teams within the same division. Obviously, Seattle and Jacksonville are not in the same division, but the timing of this claim would not have been overlooked. I still believe Greg Lloyd's hit on Keenan McCardell in 1997 was payback for the Jaguars claiming Jimmy Miller the week of the first game between the Jaguars and Steelers that year, and then cutting Miller the day after that game. This is a new day and age, however, and coaches accept the fact that players they've cut will be claimed and information will be divulged. Coaches have safeguards for that kind of stuff. It's now just another one of the demands of being a coach.

Sam from Jacksonville:
The NFL is getting too nice for its own good. These politically-correct non-replays inside the stadium are too much. The fans who sit on their butts in front of the TV get to see multiple replays of every play, but the real fans who actually go to the stadium don't get to see any controversial replays.

Vic: I agree; it's not fair. Maybe it wouldn't be that way, however, if the real fans hadn't showered the field with beer bottles in expressing their dissatisfaction for an officiating decision.

Davarrion from Buenos Aries, Argentina:
I know preseason games are not that important, but how insignificant are they? I'm really surprised that David Allen was cut since I think he was better than Owens at returning. Am I missing something or did Jack Del Rio decide he could keep another player and use Owens even if he wasn't as good?

Vic: First of all, we don't know that Jack Del Rio shares your opinion. In fact, I'd be surprised if Del Rio didn't believe Owens offered more upside as a return man than Allen did. That wasn't, however, the real problem Allen faced. When Owens established himself as a wide receiver, Allen was in a nearly impossible situation. All of a sudden, he wasn't competing against Owens, he was competing against numbers, and coaches don't like to keep a guy who does only one thing.

Dale from Atlanta, GA:
I thought Nate Wayne played fairly well during the preseason, so why was he cut? And why was Cordova put back on injured reserve and a linebacker signed off waivers? I just want to know what happened with Wayne that made us part ways.

Vic: Do you really need all of this explained? It's real simple: Del Rio believes these moves have made his roster stronger.

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