Clay from Jacksonville:
What is the date for this year's NFL draft?
Vic: April 26-27.
J.D. from Jim Thorpe, PA:
Vic, what's stopping Del Rio and Harris from unloading big names (and big cap hits) like Brunell and Jimmy Smith? Don't coaches like the prospect of totally rebuilding a franchise? I know I would. Those two should attract some good draft picks, shouldn't they? I believe when a veteran is losing his effectiveness, he's overstayed his welcome and it's time for the boot.
Vic: Your philosophy is time-honored, but it's unlikely the Jaguars could get much in a trade for either Mark Brunell or Jimmy Smith. Simply put, draft picks are more valuable than players. Quarterbacks are the exception, and Brunell would return something, but probably not what you would expect. Maybe the new regime will unload the team's big names. We'll have to wait and see.
Steve from Gainesville, FL:
Vic, I have a question about the players allocated to NFL Europe. First, who is responsible for their salary; their NFL team or NFL Europe? Also, how do you think the NFL teams view the players they send? Are NFL teams taking the development opportunity seriously, or just submitting players to meet the requirement?
Vic: There used to be another Steve from Gainesville, but he moved. Yes, I believe NFL teams are using NFL Europe as a true development opportunity. Those players are paid by their NFL Europe teams.
Jonathon from Orange Park, FL:
If the Jaguars do not re-sign running back Stacey Mack, could you see them drafting a running back in the later rounds or signing a veteran to serve as Fred Taylor's backup?
Vic: It would have to be one or the other. The running backs crop in this draft class is not considered to be strong. A backup to Fred Taylor may have to come from free agency or the waiver wire.
Terrence from Columbia, SC:
I just purchased my season tickets for the second straight year yesterday and am ready for the season. My question is, will this year be known as "rebuilding," and will David Garrard be given a legitimate shot at earning the starting quarterback position in camp?
Vic: Call it what you want: a rebuilding year, a fresh start, a new era, etc. The fact of the matter is that this roster is about to go through massive changes. What do you call that?
Rick from St Marys, GA:
Please compare the Drew Bledsoe situation of last offseason to that of some of our highly-paid veterans in terms of contract. I can't remember if they cut him or traded him, but as I recall, Bledsoe had signed a 10-year $100 million contract extension about a year before the Patriots sent him on his way. How could they absorb such a hit? Also, was Paul Vance the brains behind Jimmy Smith's excessively generous contract extension, or should I be blaming someone else for that cap management move?
Vic: The Patriots didn't absorb an enormous hit when they traded Drew Bledsoe because his contract was back-loaded. When you cut or trade a player, you are only responsible for what you've already paid him or what is guaranteed from the remainder of the contract. When Bledsoe signed that $100 million deal, a lot of chins hit the floor, but the fact of the matter is Bledsoe would never see that money. It was all window dressing that made the agent long good. As far as Jimmy Smith's new deal last summer, Paul Vance does not make decisions on whether to sign a player. The decision to meet Smith's demands was made by Wayne Weaver and Tom Coughlin. Vance was responsible for negotiating the contract and fitting it under the salary cap.
Justin from Callahan, FL:
OK, Vic, I'm putting you in the hot seat. I know you like Doug Johnson in free agency and Terence Newman, if he's available, in the draft. Any other names you'd like to throw into the mix in either category? Now, for the tough question. Of the names we keep hearing about, who on the current Jaguars roster would you say goodbye to, and who would you hold on to?
Vic: Let's start with the tough question. Decisions have to be made on the Jaguars' "Big Money Four:" Mark Brunell, Tony Brackens, Jimmy Smith and Kyle Brady. I'll refer you to my editorial on the home page for more information on that. I'm not yet ready to give my opinion on what I believe the prudent course would be with those four players. Give me some more time. More information and thought is necessary. Beyond the "Big Four," nobody has to go. The Jaguars only have 36 players currently under contract. This team needs to add players before it begins cutting them. Add some players in "bargain" free agency, draft well, put together an impressive crop of undrafted rookies, then go to camp and let the best men win. Who do I like in free agency and in the draft? Mike Cloud is a running back of some interest. Floyd Wedderburn has never reached his potential, but still may. Neil Rackers has a big leg for kickoffs and has started to develop his placement skills. I like Keion Carpenter at free safety, which would allow Marlon McCree to be moved to strong safety. In the draft, yeah, I'd like to see Terence Newman fall to the Jaguars. And I'd like to see the Jags find another young quarterback. But, mostly, this team needs speed, and it doesn't matter where that speed plays. Just get guys who can run and hit.
Bob from Jacksonville:
When is Jack Del Rio going to give some hints as to what kind of offense he is going to run? I know he wants to be "aggressive" but does he say how he will be aggressive?
Vic: He's going to use the West Coast offense.
Jim from Warrenton, GA:
Here's a different salary cap question for you. We all know teams must not exceed the yearly cap and we routinely see money pushed into future years. But, if a team is below the cap at the end of the year (say it was keeping money available for replacing injured players), is there any way the team can use up that cap room and provide a little relief to the following year's cap. For example, could they pay part of a star player's salary for the next year under this year's cap? How much room, if any, do teams typically have under the cap at the end of an NFL fiscal year?
Vic: The answer to your last question pretty much answers your first question. Teams usually end the season with "pennies" left on their salary cap. There's a deadline in early November for moving salary money from next year's cap onto the current year's cap. After that deadline, any salary money you attempt to move from the next cap into the current cap must be treated as bonus money, and bonus money must be amortized equally over the length of the contract. You couldn't move it back and claim it as the previous year's salary without re-doing the whole contract, and players usually want a little "scratch" for re-doing contracts.
Jerry from Jacksonville:
Do we know what Jack Del Rio's philosophy is when it comes to the draft. Is he a best player or need player coach?
Vic: Like all coaches, Jack Del Rio hopes best available will meet need when it's his turn to pick. He hopes the highest-rated player on the board will fit a need, or there will be several players with the same grade and at least one of them will fit a need. But I get the feeling Del Rio would lean toward the best available player if there was a gap between that guy and the next-best player of need, or he would try to trade down to where that player of need fits in the order.
Billy from San Francisco, CA:
In 1999 the Jags went 14-2 and made it to the conference final. How have they fallen so quickly and why?
Vic: Salary cap abuse.