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The "Perfect Storm"

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

Jeremy from Jacksonville:
I was just wondering how many receptions Jags receivers had this season that gained 20 yards or more. Where would that compare to the rest of the league?

Vic: The Jaguars had 43 receptions of 20 yards or greater, which tied for 15th place in the league. Arizona led the league with 63. Now there's a meaningful stat.

Artie from Westbrook, ME:
What exactly is the CBA and how does it work?

Vic: The Collective Bargaining Agreement is a pact between the owners and players that provides rules and regulations for the two group's financial operating arrangement. Most prominently, the CBA provides for a draft and a salary cap. It also provides for a percentage of designated gross revenues to be paid to the players by the league. If you don't have a CBA, you run the risk of a player strike or a lock-out. The current CBA expires following the 2007 season.

John from Jacksonville:
I was at the wild-card game and must admit that Patriot fans are fanatical. The Patriots have done a great job of creating a football environment for their fans. It exudes excitement as far as the music they play and the way they acknowledge first downs. While I was rooting for the Jaguars, I was envious of what the Patriots' fans have. What do you think it would take to build such a frenzied environment at Alltel?

Vic: I don't believe what you're describing is something that can be artificially induced. I don't think it comes from the music or any other artificial means. I believe what you're describing is genuine and all genuine enthusiasm must come from within. It must be spontaneous, not contrived. It's happening in Jacksonville. Just give it time.

Franklin from Jacksonville:
Do you think the threat of the Redskins salary cap being in deep do-do next year without a CBA extension might help get Snyder on board with a revenue-sharing proposal?

Vic: What you're suggesting is that the small-market owners might suggest to Daniel Snyder that they would agree to suspend some of the cap's harsh rules that would collapse the Redskins, in exchange for a revenue-sharing agreement that would make life a little more manageable for the small-market boys. It's a great idea, but can Snyder deliver the big-market vote?

Will from Jacksonville:
Who gains negotiating leverage due to the March 3 deadline, owners or players?

Vic: I don't think an advantage would be immediately realized by either side. My inclination right now is that we might be heading for 1987 all over again. I'm seeing all of these teams hiring these inexpensive, no-name head coaches and it's telling me the owners might be preparing to go to war.

Scherer from Lincoln, NE:
Who do you think are the top five teams with the worst salary cap problems going into the March 3 deadline and who do you think will be the biggest cap casualty from each of those teams?

Vic: The five worst cap situations belong to Washington, Tennessee, Kansas City, Indianapolis and the Jets. In Washington's case, nearly all of their players have more amortization than salary, so candidates are few. Patrick Ramsey, because he has more salary than remaining amortization, is a good candidate to go because they drafted Jason Campbell and Ramsey would represent a $2.2 million savings cut. Steve McNair and Brad Hopkins are the high-profile possibilities in Tennessee. Will Shields and Willie Roaf are top players but they're older guys who would represent cap savings cut. Priest Holmes is hurt and his career could be over, but he has more amortization than salary and would represent a cap cost cut so he would hardly qualify as a cap casualty. Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James are the candidates in Indianapolis. The Jets have better choices. Ty Law is the main guy.

Ryan from Hamilton, Ontario:
What teams do the Colts play next year? Is their schedule next year setting up to be as easy as it was for them this year?

Vic: Teams within the same division play similar schedules. The only differences are two games within the conference that are decided by where the teams finished in the standings the previous season. For example, this past year the Colts played the Patriots and the Chargers because those teams finished in first place in their respective divisions the previous season. The Jaguars didn't play the Patriots or the Chargers this past year. The Colts' strength of schedule this past season was .457; the Jaguars was .465. In 2006, the AFC South is going to play the NFC East, which means everybody in the AFC South is going to have a tougher schedule than they had in '05. The Colts will host Buffalo, Miami, Philadelphia, Washington and Cincinnati, and travel to New England, the Jets, the Giants, Dallas and Denver. How's that for a schedule? Is that tough enough?

Bryan from Kernersville, NC:
I'm curious to know what teams have maintained a healthy cap since the start of the cap era? What has been the key to keeping their caps healthy?

Vic: A lot of teams have maintained salary cap health and their common trait has been their willingness to allow players to leave in free agency. This is not a game of maintenance. It's a game of replacement. You have to be willing to lose players. If you're not willing to do that, you're going to experience cap problems. The key to success is knowing who to keep and who to let go.

Jeff from Westminster, CO:
After reading your comment that pushing money out on the cap is "mortgaging your future," I couldn't help but think that's exactly what our federal government does with the deficit.

Vic: If the federal budget was the salary cap, the United States would have been unable to field a team for the past several years.

John from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Can you foresee what the season ticket situation will be in 2006? I know the fan base has grown but based on seat coverage and tickets sold this past year, do you think the Jaguars will have the same problem selling tickets this year?

Vic: The fan base is growing. In my opinion, that means selling tickets should become less of a problem each year, as long as that trend continues. Here's a TV ratings statistic from this past weekend that makes the point: Of all the U.S. markets that didn't have a team in last weekend's playoff games, Jacksonville had the second-highest TV rating for a playoff game. Jacksonville got a 28.9 rating for the Steelers-Colts game, which was second only to Buffalo's 32.0 for the same game. A 28.9 is sensational; that's higher than Jacksonville's rating for most Jaguars games. What that tells me is that Jacksonville is a hotbed for pro football, and that's what's going to drive Jaguars ticket sales in the future.

Jonathan from King George, VA:
You have mentioned the Redskins' salary cap is one of the worst. Can the Redskins afford to cut or trade a very disgruntled LaVar Arrington?

Vic: Arrington's situation is what I call the "perfect storm." In other words, either way the Redskins turn, they're trapped. Without a CBA extension there will be no June 1 rule in 2006, which means teams can't use June to dump amortization into '07. That means that if the Redskins cut Arrington, all of his $12.2 million in remaining amortization would accelerate into the Redskins' '06 cap. If they keep him, however, they would have to pay him his $7 million salary, which would make him a $12 million cap hit. It reminds me of the woman behind the car rental counter in the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." "You're screwed." The only way out for the Redskins is to get Arrington to agree to a restructuring, but that's only going to worsen the problem long-term.

Barry from Jacksonville:
I was watching NFLHD game of the week last night, the Steelers vs. the Colts. Guess what? "NFL Films" sideline cameras and mikes caught Bill Cowher while the ref was reviewing Polamalu's interception. He gathered the defense at the bench and told them that no matter what the officials did with the review, the defense would still need to play the game. He said, "Just put on your helmets and go out there and finish this game." I still give Polamalu a lot of credit for putting on his helmet, but the proactive thinking of Cowher was a revelation. I don't have a question today, but that was priceless and I wanted to make sure you knew.

Vic: "Ask Vic" has had a great week and it's because of readers such as yourself, who have provided first-rate information. In what has been the hottest week of the NFL season, you have been at your absolute best and I am appreciative of what all of you have brought to this forum. Thank you.

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