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Trading isn't the solution

Join Senior Writer Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Jack McCall from Savannah, GA:
Since it appears R. Jay Soward does not want to be a team player, have the Jags considered trading him? At the present, he his not worth his pay.

Vic: Trading is not the solution to everything. In most cases, a team would take an accelerated cap hit on a player's prorated signing bonus when they traded him. The cap is designed so that teams must live with their mistakes, which should cause teams to be more cautious and responsible in their decision-making. Trading or releasing Soward would only worsen the Jags' salary cap situation. The Jags would seem to have little choice but to cross their fingers and hope Soward does an about-face. Besides, there's no market for Soward at this time.

John Milne from Jacksonville:
I know there are many problems between the Jaguars organization and Mark Brunell. He has said many times that he wants to remain in Jacksonville for the rest of his career. It seems Mark is not being very cooperative. Is it Brunell or his agent who is holding out until Brunell gets his huge contract. It seems to me if he loved this city so much he would be more in a negotiating mood.

Vic: Negotiations are not supposed to be buddy-buddy. Each side represents their own interests. In this case, a lot of money and lot of risk is at stake. You might say a large chunk of the Jaguars' future is on the line. Why do Jaguars fans get so bitter about these kinds of things? They crucified Fernando Bryant in 1999, did the same to Tony Brackens last summer, and have now begun a hate campaign against Brunell because he hasn't sacrificed personally to solve a cap problem he didn't create.

Mark Charney from Lake City, FL:
I hate to see the salary cap situation the Jags have now, but I'm glad they spent the money and tried their best to bring a championship to Jacksonville while they had that window of opportunity. Is it necessary to go through this in the NFL today, or is there a way to be good without tapping out the salary cap?


Vic: Solid drafting is the way to remain competitive and not abuse the salary cap. The draft remains the least expensive and most rewarding venue for player acquisition. Free agency is, without a doubt, the most expensive and has often been the least rewarding forum for acquiring players.

Scott Jennings from Woodbridge, VA
: What do you think the chances are the Jags will come to an agreement with Brunell?

Vic: I'm surprised they haven't come to an agreement, yet, but I would be shocked if Mark Brunell isn't under center for the Jaguars next season. To not retain Brunell as their quarterback would fly in the face of all of the Jaguars' offseason efforts.

Wayne Lawrence from Cocoa, FL:
If the offensive line is the Jaguars' top priority, which of the top candidates fit best into the Jaguars system; Leonard Davis, Kenyatta Walker or Steve Hutchinson? After the right tackle spot is addressed, will the Jaguars focus on the defensive side of the ball? Will the Jaguars' look to acquire help via the draft at wide receiver, since this is a strong year for that position, or are there too many other holes to fill higher up on the priority list?

Vic: Davis and Walker are expected to be gone before the Jaguars pick (13th), and Hutchinson may be more of a guard than a tackle. There are other offensive tackle candidates, such as Hutchinson's Michigan teammate, Jeff Backus. It's a good year for offensive and defensive linemen, and the Jaguars could go for a defensive linemen in the first round and an offensive tackle in the second. Gerard Warren of Florida, and Richard Seymour and Marcus Stroud of Georgia are solid defensive line prospects. There are also a lot of interesting linemen who may figure into the middle rounds. The Jaguars' need for big people is so distinct that I expect them to dip into the line pool often, however, linebacker is a need they are almost certain to address, too. And what about a fullback? It is also a good year for wide receivers, but logic would suggest the Jaguars' need for linemen will overwhelm the temptation to draft another play-maker.

Jason Wulfekuhle from Cheyenne, WY:
Why is everyone so convinced this team can go to the playoffs because it kept its core players together? Isn't that what got them in salary cap trouble in the first place? Why doesn't Tom Coughlin concentrate on rebuilding the team? He successfully did it before, couldn't he do it again?

No one is convinced. They are hopeful, and they have reason to believe their cast of skill-position players can keep the team in the playoff chase. You raise good questions. However, as I've said before, the Jaguars had to do wholesale contract re-structuring of their veteran players because it was the only way they could make it under the cap. Not re-structuring those contracts would've accelerated those players' amortizations and further worsened the Jaguars' 2001 salary cap situation. Their options were: Move some of their cap trouble onto future caps, or forfeit the 2001 season. Contrary to the way it appears, the Jaguars are rebuilding. Unfortunately, the first stage of that rebuilding process has to be dedicated to dealing with past mistakes.

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