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The best possible price

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

Lance from Denver, CO:
I read on another website about a couple of our cuts, Shaw and Washington, that were claimed by teams but those teams were awarded a different player under the "priority claim system." Are you versed on the priority claim system enough to shed some light?

Vic: Say you want a running back and there are five running backs on waivers. If you're willing to accept a running back other than your first choice, then you stipulate that in your waiver claim by putting the backs you would accept in the order you would accept them. If the first one is awarded to another team but the second one is available to your claim, then you're awarded him. You can do this with any and all players on the waiver wire; it doesn't have to be by position.

Aaron from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Have you read Peter King's internet column this week? Two digs at the Jags: "Tackle Tony Pashos ($4.34 million salary) and defensive back Brian Williams ($4 million) whacked, and sorry, I'm not buying that those were football decisions alone for a franchise that tarps the upper deck." And "I think the London Jaguars has a nice ring to it." Do you have comments on either of these statements?

Vic: Sure, I'll comment. First of all, this is professional football, it's about the money, so I don't think it's hypocritical at all to ask a player to take a salary cut when it's been determined his role will be lessened. When that player refuses to re-structure his contract according to his new role, then I think it's common practice in the league to cut him. I can tell you without reservation that Eben Britton was judged to be either a better tackle now or a player who would quickly become a better tackle than Tony. The Jaguars are in a youth movement. This is age-old stuff and I don't understand why it's so difficult to comprehend. Committing to your future and saving money in the process is what I call a smart football decision. As far as the London Jaguars thing is concerned, it hurts. As I've said, it won't go away and it's gonna get worse. This is the big leagues.

Zhane from Jacksonville:
I was listening to the game Thursday and the guys in the booth mentioned something about salaries being guaranteed for the entire season if a player is on the roster on a certain date.

Vic: They were referring to vested veterans, as Tony Pashos and Brian Williams are. Had they been on the roster on opening day, the Jaguars would've owed them their full year's salary, even if they were to cut them a week later. It's called termination pay and a player can only claim it once in his career.

Derrick from Bozeman, MT:
I can tell from your articles that you think very highly of Gene Smith, but let's not forget that he was the director of college scouting during the mediocre "Shack" regime. Surely, he was significantly involved in drafting busts such as Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, etc.

Vic: Show me one move Smith has made in the last eight months, since he became general manager, that resembles in any way what the team had done in the previous six years.

Bobby from Jacksonville:
Could you please explain the difference between the tailback, halfback and running back positions? Are they basically the same thing with different names, or do they have different roles?

Vic: Tailback and running back are the same thing, halfback isn't. Tailback refers to the featured ball-carrier in an "I" formation backfield. Running back refers to the featured ball-carrier in the current "pro set" formation, in which the fullback is almost exclusively a blocker. Halfback refers to the primary blocker in the old "split backs" formation, in which the fullback was the featured runner. Though the halfback had to be an accomplished blocker, he got significantly more rushing attempts than a fullback does in "pro set." The Dolphins and Steelers of the 1970's are the best example of "split backs," as their fullback and halfback each rushed for a thousand yards.

Alex from Jacksonville:
Since the Falcons picked up Brian Williams after we cut him, will we still get a compensatory pick in next year's draft?

Vic: No, because the Jaguars' rights to Williams didn't expire on the day unrestricted free agency began.

Timothy from Jacksonville:
Knowing Todd Bouman was neither a QB that could compete for the starting job nor a "jar on the shelf," why did the deal with the Bucs take this long to get done? The Bucs certainly had an excess at that position since the beginning of training camp. McCown would've benefitted greatly by the extra weeks to learn the system.

Vic: The price goes down significantly when you reach final-cuts weekend. GM Gene Smith waited until the final hour to make sure he got McCown for the best possible price, which he did.

Mike from Fruit Cove, FL:
I sincerely hope you wrote "Ask Vic" from home on Labor Day. Any fond memories of what that day means to you?

Vic: When I was a kid, Labor Day was a very sad day because it meant school started the next day. It's not like that anymore. What I remember most about Labor Day, however, is a grueling high school football practice on a hot day. We were all standing with our hands on our knees after wind sprints and one of the kids was puking when the coach walked over, put his hand on the kid's back and uttered these immortal words: "Football players labor on Labor Day." Little did I know he was offering prophesy on what would be my adult life, minus the puke, of course.

Chris from Jacksonville:
With Gene Smith's youth movement, how much has the average age of the Jags dropped and who's the oldest player now? How do these ages compare with past seasons?

Vic: Before Monday's roster changes, the average age was 26 and the average years of experience were four. The oldest player on the roster is Tra Thomas at 34. The average age of the team heading into last season was only slightly older. As I have said, average age of the roster is not the way to determine the age of your team. I use two factors: the age of the starting quarterback or the quarterback of the future, if you clearly have one, and the average age of the team's nucleus players. Roster age can be grossly distorted by bottom-of-the-roster youth and old, stop-gap players.

Ed from St. Augustine, FL:
Why wouldn't Pashos or Williams take reduced pay to keep playing?

Vic: I guess if you're going to take a pay cut, you might as well give yourself the choice of teams with whom to take that cut. Brian Williams landed in a good spot in Atlanta. Tony Pashos will have his choice of a lot of great restaurants in San Francisco. Hey, it's nothing personal, it's just business.

Julian from Amelia Island, FL:
Did you catch the FSU-Miami game last night? What are your thoughts?

Vic: The best quarterbacks I saw this past weekend are Tony Pike of Cincinnati and Christian Ponder of Florida State. I was thoroughly impressed by Ponder; I knew about Pike from last year. Those are pro-style quarterbacks and that's what NFL personnel directors want.

Chari from Syracuse, NY:
How much of an impact does the loss of Bob Sanders have on the game?

Vic: The best way to overcome two rookie tackles blocking against Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis is to run the ball in the middle. I would think Sanders' absence would invite that kind of thinking.

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