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The salary cap, Hardy and Soward

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

Mark Kroes from Tipton, CA:
When a player signs a four-year contract and it has, for example, a $4 million signing bonus, does the signing bonus have to be spread out evenly on the salary cap or can the bonus be (capped) ahead of time by the team, figuring they have to pay the player sooner or later?
Vic: If the bonus is labeled as a signing bonus, it must be prorated evenly over the life of the contract. If a team wants to declare all of the $4 million on the first year's salary cap, it must term the bonus a roster or reporting bonus, or it could pay it merely as salary in the first year. A team such as the Bengals, who've had so much cap room in past years, might be tempted to do that.

Ryan Glenn from Atlanta, GA:
Are the negotiations with Kevin Hardy centered around a contract re-structuring or a long-term deal?
Vic: At this point in time, the focus is probably on the immediate need for cap room, which means the emphasis is on a re-structuring.

Cam Mincey from Jacksonville:
In what place do you think the Jaguars will place in the AFC Central?

Vic: Baltimore has to be considered the easy choice to win the division. Tennessee is the clear choice for second place, but I think the Titans could be the disappointment team of the year. The Jaguars and the Steelers seem to be on a similar level. Logically, the Jaguars are a third-place pick, but if they get off to a fast start in September, they might contend for the second playoff spot in the AFC Central. The problem with making a prediction for the Jaguars is that their lack of depth, voids at certain positions and desperate dependence on their core players and their health give them a huge downside if circumstances turn against them. I'll give them an upside of second place, but a downside of fifth place if they don't get off to a fast start or lose key players along the line.

Howard Smith from Jacksonville:
When teams cut down to their final roster at the start of the season, how many of each position does a team normally keep both on offense and defense? I mean, is there a standard formula that gets tweaked a little, based on that year's team needs.
Vic: The numbers will certainly vary, according to team needs and the versatility of certain players. For example, a fullback who has strong running skills may eliminate an extra running back. Coach Tom Coughlin has a set number of players he wants to keep at each position, and he usually sticks to that formula. In the past, the Jaguars have kept three quarterbacks, three running backs, two fullbacks, five wide receivers, three tight ends, 10 offensive linemen, eight defensive linemen, seven linebackers, five cornerbacks, four safeties and three kickers.

Joe Peters from Green Cove Springs, FL:
How does the attendance at Jaguars home games compare to the attendance at other NFL teams' games?
Vic: Attendance at Jaguars home games ranks favorably to the rest of the league. The size of Alltel Stadium makes that possible, however, Alltel's size also makes it difficult to sell out in advance of the season, contrary to places such as Pittsburgh, where Three Rivers Stadium had a seating capacity of 60,000. The Steelers have sold out every game since 1972, but never rank near the top of the league in home attendance, for the obvious reason. What are the advantages and disadvantages of large and small stadiums? Well, small stadiums limit supply and promote demand, which is favorable to the team, especially in poor-record seasons and in price-structuring. Large stadiums increase supply and discourage demand, which may make it difficult for a team to sell tickets in poor-record seasons, and clearly forces the team to be creative with its price-structuring. The size of Alltel Stadium clearly benefits the ticket-buying fans. It's a buyer's market.

George Young from Brunswick, GA:
With the addition of Sean Dawkins and the off-field antics of R. Jay Soward, what would the benefits be of getting rid of Soward? I would think the Jaguars would have been smart enough to put a clause in his contract about drug issues, considering his previous problems in college. Would that get us any relief?
Vic: You can't do it. Here's why: Because R. Jay Soward is a non-vested veteran, the pre-June rule would apply if you cut him, meaning all of his remaining signing bonus amortization would accelerate into this year if he is claimed by another team. He signed a five-year deal with a $2 million signing bonus, meaning $400,000 of that money is on this year's cap. If he was cut and claimed, the remaining $1.2 million of signing bonus amortization would be added to this year's cap, meaning Soward would become a $1.6 million amortization hit on this year's cap. The Jaguars can't afford that, therefore, they can't risk cutting Soward and having him claimed by another team.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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