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Slow, methodical repair

Join Senior Writer Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Rafi Yazji from Jacksonville:
For how long will the cap continue to hit the Jaguars dramatically, because from what it sounds like with all these signing bonuses owed to players playing for other teams, and the renegotiations of most of the starters, it doesn't look like anytime soon, unless we get rid of the majority of the starters.

Vic: Getting rid of the starters isn't the answer because their prorated bonus money would then accelerate into the current salary cap. The way to repair the situation, according to the direction the Jaguars have taken with their massive contract re-structuring, is a slow and methodical route of sound cap management. In that system of repair, it will probably take the Jaguars three years to get back to level ground. The players hold the key to the success of that plan. The Jaguars need for the majority of them to be productive and live-out the life of their contracts. If they do not and they have to be replaced, then the Jaguars would realize their accelerated bonus money, thus worsening the cap situation.

Ben Corby from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
It seems to me Fred Taylor could be kept healthy more effectively if a big, bruising fullback is able to handle the short-yardage load, which is a breeding ground for injuries. Am I completely off the mark here, or could this be a way to keep Taylor healthy for longer stretches?

Vic: You are right on the mark, but fullbacks who combine running and blocking skills are very difficult to find. Is Mike Alstott a true fullback, or is he really a feature running back?

Steve Matthews from Roselle Park, NJ:
I feel the team needs defense. That's what the Jaguars should concern themselves with in the draft. It seems like the defense plays with no heart; they play too soft. What do you think?


Vic: You can't measure heart, but you can measure performance, and the Jaguars defense did not perform well in 2000. It was at its worst in the most critical situations, allowing big plays instead of making them. If that's what you mean by soft, then you're right. Defense clearly has to be a major draft priority, but it's not as though the Jaguars haven't focused on defense in past drafts. Thirteen of their top 20 picks from 1996-2000 were used to draft defensive players.

Ken Thorpe from Jacksonville Beach, FL:

   How does Mark Brunell's roster bonus affect the salary cap? If he is paid 
   a roster bonus on March 31, will we be $2.3 million over the cap?</td>

Vic: No. The $2.5 million roster bonus Brunell is due on March 31 is already figured into the 2000 salary cap because it is bonus money scheduled to be paid in the current year. If the Jaguars were to trade Brunell before they pay that roster bonus, they would extinguish it from their salary cap. Once they pay it, they have to keep it on their cap, which is why March 31 is effectively the deadline for trading Brunell, unless the two sides push the date back.

Eric Blackman from Jacksonville:
How long do you think it will it take to repair the cap situation. Will it go beyond 2003?

Vic: Even if everything goes as the Jaguars have planned, there will be remnants of the current cap problem beyond 2003. However, at that point, it will be manageable. The major worry is: What if everything doesn't go as planned? The Jaguars can not afford to lose to injury or have to cut any of their big-money players. They don't have the room to carry on their cap any more players who are not on their roster.

Nathan Dinger from St. Augustine, FL:
I know Mark Brunell has received a lot of criticism lately from the fans. I was wondering how his fellow players are treating him, and if they expect this situation to affect the chemistry of the team.

Vic: All players are seeking financial gain from football. Tony Brackens' holdout last summer did not damage his standing with his teammates. In fact, they were all supportive of his position. Brunell is not holding out, he is merely attempting to negotiate a contract that will maximize his financial gain from football. I know that angers fans, but that's the way it is in professional sports. Not one player the Jaguars have cut has blamed his release on Brunell.

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