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The pure defense

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

Alan from Jacksonville:
With Terry Cousin re-signed and Brian Williams signed, is it safe to say the Jaguars have potentially one of the best secondaries in the NFL, assuming Darius comes back from his injury?

Vic: I think that's a fair expectation.

Michael from Los Angeles, CA:
What do you think of New Orleans signing Brees?

Vic: It's a major risk/reward situation for the Saints and the Chargers. The Saints are taking the risk that Drew Brees will recover from his shoulder surgery. If he doesn't, then they will have squandered the opportunity to draft a guy who might've become their long-term future at the position. Forget about the money involved in the deal. You're going to pay for anybody at that position. For the Saints, this is all about who will lead them into their future. They appear to have chosen Brees over Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler. Will they regret that choice? There's also a major risk in this for the Chargers, who've allowed a playoff-caliber quarterback to leave without knowing if his replacement, Phillip Rivers, is capable of performing at the same level. For the Chargers, money was definitely an issue because they couldn't go on paying both guys top buck. They needed to decide on one so they could re-claim the other guy's money and use it on talent at other positions. On the surface, it all makes sense. How will it look a year from now?

Michael from Jacksonville:
I've been a loyal reader for almost two years. As I read your readers' questions every day, your replies seem to come to me before I read your answers. Is this "Victhink?" and is it contagious?

Vic: I have my beliefs and they seldom change. I believe in draft and develop. I believe teams should be vigilant in protecting their salary caps. I believe in drafting the best available player, within reason. I believe in run the ball, stop the run and all kinds of old-fashioned football virtues and philosophies that nobody likes because they're boring but everybody knows they're the difference between the great franchises and the wannabe's.

Chris from Crestview, FL:
I am very interested in your feelings on the Daunte Culpepper trade.

Vic: The Dolphins may have just returned to the playoffs and all it cost them was a second-round pick. I think this will prove to be the personnel move of the year.

Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Did Steelers owner Dan Rooney get Super Bowl rings when his dad owned the team? If so, would that make Dan Rooney the only person to own all five of the Steelers' Super Bowl rings?

Vic: I can think of another guy who has five rings: Dick Hoak, who has been the Steelers' running backs coach since 1973.

Loftur from Reykjavik, Iceland:
I agree with what you say about the Patriots being great at dealing with the cap by having the guts to lose players and replace them. Do you think the Jaguars would have the guts to do the same thing today or is it something the Jaguars might start doing in the near future?

Vic: That's one of the upcoming challenges the Jaguars will face. As this team continues to accumulate talent, the day will come when it won't have room on its salary cap for all of that talent and it will have to make tough decisions on who to keep and who to let go. The Jaguars had to make one of those decisions this year on Akin Ayodele. You gotta pick the right guys and you gotta have the courage to challenge yourself to replace the ones you let go. Knowing who to let go is as much a part of the personnel process as knowing who to go get.

Blake from Tamarac, FL:
Are there any linebackers still left worth signing? What about Cato June?

Vic: Cato June is a restricted free agent who got a high tender, which means any team signing him would have to compensate the Colts with a first-round pick. Is June worth a first-round pick? No; certainly not this year.

John from Fort Smith, AR:
You have been saying for a long time that a key to the Jaguars success would be an offensive play-maker. What position do you think the play-maker would need to be at?

Vic: In the Jaguars' case, they need one of their young wide receivers to become the team's number one guy. Jimmy Smith has led the Jaguars in yards receiving for every season since 1996. How long should Smith be expected to carry this team's passing game? It's time for one of these young receivers to become the Jaguars' go-to guy; the team's star pass-catcher and touchdown-maker. Fred Taylor has led the Jaguars in rushing every year since his rookie season, 1998, except for 1999 and 2001 when he was injured. Taylor will be in his ninth season in 2006 and at some point soon the Jaguars will need to provide for a young feature runner. When I look at the crop of running backs in this year's draft, however, I don't see the big, premium types and it's my opinion the Jaguars are probably going to need Taylor to lead this team's rushing attack one more year. My expectations for a play-maker to emerge are at the wide receiver position. After all, the Jaguars have spent their last two first-round picks at that position.

Tony from Greenville, SC:
In your opinion, with the Colts letting go of their free agents and the new stadium coming soon, do you reasonably think the Colts can stay competitive in the division for years to come?

Vic: If they draft well, they should be able to continue to play at a high level. The thing that's striking me is that they've obviously made a decision to move into their future. They have a new stadium under construction and it would be self-defeating for that stadium to open and the Colts to be in the process of gutting their roster to repair their salary cap. They took their swing last season. It's time now to start thinking about the franchise's big picture and, in my opinion, that's a very smart move.

Drew from Jacksonville:
What the heck is Brady from Richmond, VA, thinking?

Vic: He wanted to take a shot at me and I'm OK with that. He wanted to make a point that I didn't predict the Jaguars would sign Brian Williams or Mike Williams and he's absolutely correct. I knew nothing about the Jaguars' interest in either Williams. The truth is the pure defense, right? Brady didn't mention, however, that I told you a month ago the Jaguars had a verbal agreement on a new deal with Rob Meier, which they did, and that I didn't mislead readers into believing the Jaguars were hot on LeCharles Bentley, which they weren't.

Lewis from Jacksonville:
Any chance the Jags may acquire Lavar Arrington or is he simply too much money and set on playing in a 3-4 defense?

Vic: I think Arrington is a wonderful player. He's a true play-maker and he would instantly improve any team, including the Jaguars. I've heard that as many as 20 teams have expressed some kind of interest in Arrington, even if it's only been a phone call. I believe the Jaguars are one of those teams. My reservation about Arrington is that he almost certainly will cost a lot of money to sign, especially after giving $4 million back to the Redskins to buy his freedom. That causes me to ask: Can't you find what you need at linebacker for a lot less money in this year's draft, which is loaded with linebackers

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