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Salary cap system makes loyalty difficult

Join *Jaguars Inside Report *Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Nathan Semones from Richardson, TX:
How is an expansion draft conducted? Where can I find out about the players from other teams who were put into the draft pool?
The two key rules stipulations going into the draft are that the Texans must select 30-42 players, or a lesser number of players whose total 2002 salary cap hits equal 38 percent (about $27 million) of the Texans' 2002 salary cap. The NFL's 31 other teams have made 155 players available to the Texans. When the Texans select a player, the team from which that player was selected will have the opportunity to withdraw one of the four remaining names from its five-player pool. If the Texans select a second player from a specific team's list, that team will have the opportunity to withdraw two names from the remaining names in its pool. That means no team may lose more than two players, unless it chooses not to exercise the option of withdrawing names. The expansion draft will terminate when the Texans have selected their 42nd player, or when they chose to terminate their selections, provided they have satisfied the 38 percent requirement. Check for the expansion list.

Fern Malowitz from Jacksonville:
I realize football is a business, but the decision to have Boselli available for the Houston franchise is quite disappointing. Not only is Boselli a quality player, but he is a leader and motivator for other players. When he is in the game, the entire team appears more enthusiastic and willing to play hard, knowing their teammate is also motivated by the game. I know no one player is the team, but where is the loyalty?
Loyalty ends where salary cap problems begin. I agree with everything you've said, but let's not forget that the players agreed to this system because they believed they would prosper within it, and they have. Player salaries have skyrocketed as a result of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that gave us the current salary cap system. The owners would've been very willing to have continued the previous system, but the players union was adamant about a system that would provide unrestricted free agency. That's what we have now. Loyalty is a two-way street. If it's unfair of us to expect a player to accept a contract that is less than market value, and it is, then it is also unfair of us to expect a team to not represent its own needs. All of this serves to underscore the need for sound cap management. Tony Boselli is the unfortunate victim of a salary cap that spiraled out of control. I share your despair, but if you're looking for loyalty, you better get a dog.

John Rezsonya from Jacksonville:
Before the Boselli announcement, you indicated you thought the Jaguars would re-structure the contracts of Brunell, Boselli and Smith. Now we are faced with losing our recurring Pro-Bowler and best chance for a Hall of Fame player to a division opponent. I understand that releasing Boselli to Texas will (help) fix the salary cap, but I think the smarter decision would be to re-structure the contracts and keep Boselli, Brunell and Smith as you initially suggested. The Jaguars may have had a salary cap problem for another year or two, but the Jaguars would keep the heart and soul of this team in these three players. The Jaguars also would keep the integrity of the Jaguars owner and management staff in honoring a contract for a player who has done everything he could for his team and the Jacksonville community. That's my opinion. Your thoughts?
Yes, I believed the Jaguars would re-structure the contracts of Mark Brunell, Tony Boselli and Jimmy Smith. In Brunell's case, my thoughts were based on a very favorable contract; the team's best. In Boselli's case, my thoughts were based on the fact that he is not only a great player, but the identity of the franchise and a player who wanted to stay in Jacksonville badly enough that he would've probably been very accommodating in re-structuring his contract. As far as Smith is concerned, it was my opinion the Jaguars would have no choice but to re-structure. His cap hit jumps from $2.9 million in 2001 to a staggering $5.7 million in 2002, and his $7.4 million in remaining amortization clearly restricts the Jaguars' options. The key to all of this was Tony Brackens and his $11.34 million of remaining amortization, nearly $4 million higher than Smith's, the second-greatest remaining amortization on the Jaguars' books. In my opinion, if the Texans had given the Jaguars reason to believe Brackens would be selected in the expansion draft, Boselli's name would not be on the list today. The Jaguars had to dump at least one major amortization on the Texans. My guess is the Texans said "no" to Brackens and Smith, and "yes" to Boselli, whose $7.2 million in remaining amortization is the Jaguars' third highest.

Thomas Wolansky from Orange Park, FL:
Did you watch the Senior Bowl? If so, what players do you think would be eye-openers for the Jags in the upcoming draft? In other words, what players do you think are the "best available athletes," by their performances in the Senior Bowl and the previous college year?
I am very unimpressed by the quarterbacks crop. Everyone is raving about David Carr, but I don't see it. The most impressive players seem to be linemen. Miami offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie is clearly a dominant player. North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers and Tennessee defensive tackle John Henderson are the same. Of course, those players will be gone by the time the Jaguars select, and you know all of the big names, so let me throw some lesser names at you. Syracuse inside linebacker Clifton Smith knocked me out with his bowl-game performance against Kansas State. Boston College offensive tackle Marc Colombo was outstanding in BC's bowl win over Georgia. Pitt safety Ramon Walker is a big-hitter who is coming out as a junior and could be a middle-rounds steal. Virginia Tech wide receiver Andre Davis is a big-time talent whose poor senior season has probably pushed him into the second round. Colorado offensive tackle Victor Rogers might be a first-round pick in another year, but he appears destined for the late second round or early third round this spring. Ohio State center LeCharles Bentley is a middle-rounds guy who has the ability to be a long-term starter. Those are just a few names.

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