Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Jay from Jacksonville:
I think your insight about the "new era" really beginning with the addition of Leftwich was a fair assessment, but there is still work to be done. What are the chances of the Jaguars either trading or releasing Mark Brunell, Donovin Darius and Jimmy Smith after training camp? With Mark Brunell unhappy, isn't it likely this attitude will spread to the Brunell loyalists among the players? The toxic mixture of new coaches and angry players is slowly killing our 2003 playoff chances, since team chemistry is an essential component for NFL success, so we might as well "blow it up."
Vic: Fans keep asking about trades for this guy and that guy, but trading away veteran players is nearly impossible to do. When that player's amortization is high, the team can't trade him because it would hit their salary cap too hard. When that player's salary is high, no one wants him because it would hit their salary cap too hard. The Jaguars couldn't release Donovin Darius or Jimmy Smith because of cap ramifications. In Darius' case, the Jaguars would have to give him $3 million, which is his guaranteed salary for this year after having signed the Jaguars' tender offer. Smith has $10.2 million of remaining amortization; if the Jaguars cut him after June 1, his "dead money" hit in 2004 would be $7.1 million. Brunell's cap situation would allow the Jaguars to cut him after June 1 and receive $6.75 million in cap room, but the Jaguars have said they want him to be their starting quarterback this season. Jay, before you can play general manager, you have to really know the ins and outs of the salary cap. It all begins and ends with the salary cap.
Amin from New Haven, CT:
Why is the team with the first pick of the draft the only team that gets to sign its player before the draft?
Vic: They're not. Technically, the entire draft could be completed before its scheduled start. It goes like this: The team with the first pick of the draft is allowed to negotiate with any player who is draft eligible. If they sign a player, then the team with the next pick of the draft is able to begin negotiations with any of the remaining players who are draft eligible. And so on and so on until the final pick of the draft order.
Samuel from Jacksonville:
Who have been the franchise players in Jaguars history?
Vic: The "franchise" designation has been used twice: On Tony Brackens in 2000 and on Donovin Darius this year.
Paul from Jacksonville:
What will the cap look like after the probable release of Kyle Brady?
Vic: Kyle Brady represents $3.3 million of remaining amortization. That figure must pass through the Jaguars' salary cap over the next two seasons, if Brady is released after June 1; $2.2 million in '03 and $1.1 million in '04. His cap figure this season was scheduled to be $5.2 million, which includes a $3 million salary. So, the Jaguars would realize a $3 million salary cap savings this season if they release Brady after June 1.
Paul from Temecula, CA:
I wouldn't necessarily call Hugh Douglas "cheap free agency," but I think he is by far the Jags' best offseason acquisition. How much longer do you think Douglas has left in his career? Is he just one of those guys who a team signs and he stays for two or three years then retires because he is too old?
Vic: Eventually, all players retire. And when you're 32, you're closing on it. How many years does Hugh Douglas have left in him? Only time will answer that question, but coach Jack Del Rio has stated that he believes Douglas has something left in his tank. As far as the salary cap is concerned, the Jaguars need Douglas to give them two good years for the signing to have been worth the bonus money that was paid.
Fred from Portland, OR:
You've informed us the new Brackens deal has freed up just over $4 million, but is there anything else you can tell us? Did he take an actual paycut to arrive at this savings or did he just re-structure his salary? More to the point, what is his new cap hit and where does that leave the Jaguars under the cap?
Vic: The Jaguars lowered Tony Brackens' salary cap hit from $8.2 million to just under $3.8 million. That's a little more than a $4.4 million savings this year. It was accomplished by incentivizing more than $4 million of his $5.5 million salary. Those incentives are termed "Not Likely To Be Earned" because Brackens didn't equal any of them last season. And since they are "NLTBE," they do not count against this year's salary cap. However, if they are earned this season, the money paid will have to be put on the Jaguars' '04 cap.
Bob from Jacksonville:
What is the knock on Romberg? I thought he would at least be drafted. Does he lack the skills to be an NFL center?
Vic: At 6-2, Brett Romberg is shorter than what teams want. He is a smart, tough and dedicated player, but his physical skills are limited. What I've just described is the classic undrafted over-achiever, and there have been a lot of them who've carved out impressive NFL careers.
Greg from Jacksonville:
I might be more excited about the potential of Byron Leftwich than any of the Jaguars' previous draft choices. Over the years, which Jags draft picks have you been most excited about?
Vic: I thought Byron Leftwich was a very exciting pick; especially considering all of the hype and the way the pick went down. But the guy who's really interesting me right now is David Garrard. He has looked great in both mini-camps. He was a plum pick in the fourth round.