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Winning creates cap problems

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

Scott Walden from Columbus, OH:
It seems to me the situation with Brunell and Hardy being salary cap liabilities greatly reduces any trade value for them, as teams just wait and see if we will just release them. That being said, and assuming we are entering a rebuilding phase, are there any players who will be big cap hits next season who we could trade now and get some high draft picks?

Vic: : Other than for Mark Brunell and Kevin Hardy, there is no "tradable" player on the roster who wouldn't result in a greater cap hit in 2001 by trading him.

Brian Carter from Jacksonville:
If Brunell's contract problem is solved, how will we have money for the draft, or is his contract where the money will come from?

Vic: A new contract for Brunell would be structured in such a way to lessen his hit on the Jaguars' 2001 salary cap, thus providing cap room to sign the team's draft class. The same can be said of Hardy.

Ed Gribbin from Orange Park, FL:
What is your gut feeling about the results of negotiations between the Jaguars and Brunell and Hardy?


Vic: I maintain my belief the Jaguars will reach agreement with Brunell. He has been the centerpiece of the team's salary cap repair efforts, which symbolizes their desire to retain him as their quarterback. Meanwhile, all indications are Brunell wants to remain in Jacksonville. The Hardy situation is different because he's a linebacker, not a quarterback, therefore, more easily replaced. If his negotiations with the Jaguars don't improve soon, he will become more likely to be traded as the draft nears. Hardy would be a $2.2 million cap savings for the Jaguars in a trade, and the Jaguars could sure use the cap savings.

Jeffrey Nielsen from Jacksonville:
What is the cap situation for the other teams in the division? Are the Jags the only ones heading for trouble? Is what we are seeing a typical cycle that most teams go through?

Vic: The Bengals are currently $10.21 million under the cap with 66 players signed. The Browns are $8.87 under with 66 signed; Steelers $2.59 under with 57 signed; Ravens $1.21 under with 46 signed; Titans $275,000 under with 48 signed. The Titans are clearly facing cap problems and the Ravens are seeing their first signs of a cap problem that will worsen dramatically next winter. The Steelers' cap situation is stable, the Bengals' is by far the most promising in the league, and while the Browns' situation appears good on paper, they've pushed a lot of amortization into the future. The AFC Central's most successful teams on the field in recent years -- the Jaguars, Titans and Ravens -- are the most capped-out, so, yes, cap problems are definitely cyclical. The challenge teams face is to make sure no one cycle dooms their long-term cap outlook. That happened in San Francisco.

Seamus Mehigan from Maynard, MA:
Seeing how the Jaguars will probably focus on the offensive and defensive lines in the draft, I was wondering if a certain position will be drafted or if they will take the player with the greatest skill. Specifically, I am wondering about Jamal Reynolds and whether or not the Jags would take him if he were available. Also, do you think there are any Brian Urlacher's in this year's draft? Linebackers who make an immediate impact are often hard to come by.

Vic: Tom Coughlin drafts for need, as long as he believes a player's value is worthy of the spot he would be taken. Because this is a good year for offensive and defensive linemen, it's logical to expect those two positions to represent the Jaguars' first two picks in this spring's draft. Jamal Reynolds is not expected to be available when the Jaguars make the 13th pick of the draft. Some draftniks believe Miami's Dan Morgan has Brian Urlacher potential, but, by and large, this is not an especially strong crop of linebackers.

John Dyal from Fernandina Beach, FL:
In regards to the recent Favre and Bledsoe contracts, did they help or actually stall the Brunell negotiations?

Vic: At first, I thought the Brett Favre and Drew Bledsoe contracts made Brunell a done deal. After all, Brunell appears to fit between Favre and Bledsoe. However, facets of the Bledsoe deal have turned out to be trouble spots. Of course, Leigh Steinberg represents Brunell and Bledsoe, and Steinberg has been seeking a Bledsoe-like deal for Brunell. Favre's and Bledsoe's signing bonuses made that part of the Brunell negotiations easier, but the length and total package of the Bledsoe deal would seem to have slowed the Brunell talks.

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