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They will be aggressive

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

Gerard from Seaford, NY:
What is the compensation for Akin Ayodele's contract?

Vic: The Jaguars have yet to extend tender offers to their two restricted free agents, Akin Ayodele and Deke Cooper. The deadline for extending tender offers is March 1. That's why I keep saying everybody is rushing the season. I can't answer the majority of these free-agent questions because we haven't reached the deadlines for decisions. Anyhow, the Jaguars' decision will be between two tender offers. The low tender would pay Ayodele $660,000 in 2005 and any team signing him would be required to compensate the Jaguars with original draft pick compensation, which would be a third-round draft pick. The high tender would pay Ayodele $1.4 million in '05 but would require any team signing Ayodele in free agency to compensate the Jaguars with a first-round pick. I expect the Jaguars to use the low tender on Ayodele.

Andrew from Flagstaff, AZ:
I have heard in several places the Jags have pretty significant cap room and will be a player in free agency. Considering the cap troubles that they just got out of do you see them spending big money in the free-agent market or going after reasonably-priced players to fill holes. I would much rather see them spend their money wisely and consistently have a good team than try to go for the home run and end up in cap trouble again.

Vic: I expect the Jaguars to be more aggressive in free agency this year for two reasons: 1.) They have the cap room to do so; 2.) The roster is at the point that a player here or there could put this team over the top. That doesn't mean I expect them to spend recklessly. That's not going to happen.

Tommy from Richmond, VA:
When will Byron and the rest of the offense begin learning the system Carl Smith will bring with him?

Vic: Intense learning will begin when the Jaguars conduct their post-draft mini-camp the weekend following the NFL draft. That learning will continue throughout the spring, which will include 14 other on-field practices before training camp.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Watching the Florida vs. Kentucky basketball game last night, Dick Vitale mentioned that Kentucky forward Chuck Hayes would make a perfect NFL tight end, comparing him to Antonio Gates. Could an NFL team risk a sixth or seventh-round pick on him?

Vic: Antonio Gates' success is causing scouts to search the hardwoods. Let's not forget that Tony Gonzalez also played basketball in college. Here's another name for you: Chevy Troutman, a power forward at Pitt. Watch for him to get a try as a tight end. Considering Gates' unbelievable impact on the Chargers' turnaround, I wouldn't be surprised at all if a team drafts a basketball player in the late rounds.

Anthony from Jacksonville:
Love your insight. With a new offensive coordinator coming in, where do you see the current Jaguars personnel fitting into the scheme that coach Smith and coach Del Rio would like to establish?

Vic: In my opinion, the greatest challenge Carl Smith faces is making all of the Jaguars' many pieces on offense fit together into one sensible and productive picture. In my opinion, it's the top story of the Jaguars' offseason. We'll have to wait and see how it turns out.

Jim from Tampa, FL:
When did the salary cap start? A friend of mine says the Patriots are less of a dynasty than his beloved Cowboys of the 1990's. I love watching his face turn purple when I put down his Cowboys but I want to make sure I have my facts straight. With the exception of the pre-salary cap era argument, do you have any other ammunition for me? His claim is the Cowboys are superior because they slaughtered the competition, whereas the Pats seem to only win by three points. I love the web site.

Vic: The salary cap began in 1993. I'm glad you love the web site, but you're not going to like what I have to say. Your friend's Cowboys would hold your Patriots up by one arm and kick them in the teeth until they said please stop. There is no comparison between the Cowboys of the early '90's and the Patriots of this decade. Why do I say that? Because the Cowboys had better players at nearly every position. I've danced around this subject long enough. The Patriots aren't even in the '90's Cowboys' league. The Cowboys would do to the Patriots what the Cowboys did to the Bills, who, by the way, were also a better team than these Patriots.

Ben from Phoenix, AZ:
What kind of interest do you expect Troy Edwards to get in free agency, assuming the Jaguars don't re-sign him before March 2?

Vic: I expect him to attract mild interest.

Jeremy from Buford, GA:
What do you think of Darren Howard's and John Abraham's chances of not being re-signed, and would they likely be targets of the Jags?

Vic: John Abraham is almost certain to be "franchised" by the Jets. Darren Howard wore the "franchise" tag last season, which caused the Saints to pay Howard $6.5 million. "Franchising" Howard again would cost the Saints $7.8 million in '05, and that's awfully pricey, though they have the room for it. I would expect Howard to be targeted by the Jaguars and a lot of other teams, should he be free on March 2, but I also expect him to get tagged again by the Saints. A player of his quality and at such a premium position as defensive end is usually someone whose rights a team wants to protect. Once a player signs the "franchise" tender, he may be traded, and the Saints would have no difficulty trading Howard.

Ambuj from Jacksonville:
I just read today that Norm Chow was hired by the Titans. This scares me because he brings an explosive style of football to the Titans. Looks like they are going to be on our tails again next year. Why didn't we look at Chow? Were the Jaguars not aware of him? I would rather have Chow than some inexperienced QB coach.

Vic: One more time: Jack Del Rio did speak to Norm Chow, but Chow did not express interest in the job. I don't know why not, though I'm thinking timing had something to do with it. When Del Rio talked to Chow, the 49ers job was still open and there was talk Pete Carroll might take it and that, of course, would've meant Chow would've probably become the head coach at USC. When the Titans began courting Chow, Mike Nolan had been hired by the 49ers and it had become clear Carroll was staying at USC. In other words, the timing was right for the Titans. Beyond all of that, do you really think Chow made USC explosive? Is there any chance Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart and Mike Williams and Reggie Bush are the reasons for USC's rise to the top of college football? USC has been judged to have the top recruiting class in the country again this year. Do you think that might have more to do with the Trojans' success than the play-calling?

Rick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
How close is the Jaguars' philosophy to the Patriots' model?

Vic: It's closer to the Patriots' than it is to the Redskins'. The Jaguars are doing smart things in managing their salary cap and spending the cap room they've provided. What the Jaguars do with Donovin Darius will go a long way toward defining whether the Jaguars are Patriotsesque.

Bobby from Orange Park, FL:
Any opinion on why the Jaguars didn't even talk to Norm Chow?

Vic: See answer above.

Tyler from Des Moines, IA:
Don't you get tired of answering the same questions over and over?

Vic: That's why we need to get a "search" mechanism for "Ask Vic," and my information is the IT guys are working on it.

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