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Total value isn't the issue

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

Jerry from Jacksonville:
I am quite surprised at the acquisitions we have made thus far in free agency. Are these contracts good values for the players we are getting?

Vic: Don't judge these contracts by their total values. In each case, the Jaguars have structured the contract in such a way that allows the team to get out of the deal without devastating its salary cap and without paying off the expensive side of the deal, if the player doesn't fulfill expectations. The structure of the deal is more important than the projected value.

Dave from Providence, RI:
I truly believe in drafting the best available player, too. I believe you draft for tomorrow, not today. But with saying that, I sure would like to see the Jags draft someone who could make an impact like a Randy Moss in their first season. Do you see any of those type players in this year's draft, and if so, who?

Vic: Yes, Terence Newman. He has the ability to be an impact cornerback and returner.

Dan from Lancaster, OH:
Jacksonville has done an excellent job so far on defense in free agency, but what about the offense? is there a top-notch wide receiver or running back left who will be good enough to sign, or wait until the draft when there are plenty?

Vic: The Jaguars already have a top-notch running back; they need a backup, and he might have to come in free agency because this year's draft crop of running backs is considered to be weak. At wide receiver, the free agency crop is getting thin, but the draft crop of wide receivers is thought to be one of the best ever.

David from New York, NY:
Considering the signings of Edwards, Douglas, Mitchell and Peterson, what is the current state of the Jags cap this year? In other words, is there any money left to sign the draft class?

Vic: The rookie-pool money had already been provided for in the Jaguars' salary cap. Obviously, the Jaguars have spent a lot of money recently and its cap has taken a hit, but it will be built back up when the Jaguars re-do Mark Brunell's contract. Of course, there's still the matter of Tony Brackens' future with the team. If the Jaguars cut him after June 1, they will get $5.5 million in cap savings this year.

Joe from Jacksonville:
What is the reason for the late notice of game dates? We attend many Gator games so we like to plan to miss as few games as possible. We don't want to miss any home games but some trips must be planned far ahead.

Vic: The NFL announces its schedule every year in April.

Jared from Edison, NJ:
I love that the Jaguars picked up two great players in Mike Peterson and Hugh Douglas. However, the Jags just got out of salary cap hell. Are these signings going to put us right back into it?

Vic: No, as long as the team continues to structure contracts responsibly.

Lane from Orlando, FL:
With Douglas and Peterson in Jaguars uniforms, it would appear the greatest needs on this team are wide receiver, offensive line depth and the defensive secondary. Do you agree with this and is this year's draft helpful in these areas?

Vic: I agree with your ranking of needs. In each case, the draft is considered to offer a good crop of prospects.

Tremain from Glen Burnie, MD:
I like what personnel is doing with bringing in some play-makers. I have one question: If Del Rio is still interested in keeping Brackens, how would it play out. Would Hugh Douglas take Brackens' spot and Brackens ride the bench?

Vic: I find it hard to believe Hugh Douglas wasn't signed to replace Tony Brackens.

Sam from Cordele, GA:
How do you rationalize and explain all of the Jaguars free-agency spending recently, after you have been such an advocate of not doing so much of this?

Vic: The explanation is simple: Teams never listen to sportswriters.

Zen from Santa Rosa, CA:
You've been right about most of the free-agent signings so far (Edwards, Mitchell, Peterson), but did you have any inkling of the Hugh Douglas deal? Your view on free agents and the salary cap seems to lean toward the frugal, so are you surprised at the glut of cash spent recently?

Vic: The Hugh Douglas signing was a shocker, and Paul Vance was just as surprised when he got a call from Douglas' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, at one o'clock Friday afternoon. Yes, I do lean toward the frugal; you might even say I'm downright cheap. And I am surprised by the Jaguars' rash of spending. I believed the team was prepared to take a slower and less-expensive approach to rebuilding the roster.

Dave from St. Marys, GA:
The "Ask Vic" column really gives us a better idea of what happens during the offseason, so, thanks. Could you please give an update of the salary cap situation now that Jax has spent some money in free agency? How does all this affect the '04 cap?

Vic: : The 2003 salary cap is in fine shape. But '04 could be a problem. If the Jaguars release Tony Brackens' after June 1 this year, he will be a $7 million "dead-money" hit in '04. That's why it's so important that Jimmy Smith return to his old form.

Greg from Jacksonville:
I think the new Jags front office agreed with your assessment of the roster; it stunk. The game is played by players and this team needed more talent. Now we have signed some quality players and, hopefully, didn't do much damage to the cap in future years. I was of the opinion more rebuilding was necessary, but technically, we're in the second year of rebuilding. I don't know the wisdom of signing all these players, cap-wise, but I'm excited by the new in-your-face attitude. With the new acquisitions and a good draft, do you think we could contend for the division title if everything gels?

Vic: With an ultra-productive draft, it's possible. But this team has major roster-depth needs, and the draft will have to address those needs.

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