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You can't dodge the system

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

Ken from Jacksonville:
The market has been set for the unrestricted free agents and it appears a linebacker the caliber of Mike Peterson is going to cost us $3-4 million a year. I know we have to be prudent but we seem to be buying a lot of airplane tickets with little results. Is it your opinion we are going to secure a linebacker in free agency which will allow us to address the wide receiver position in the first round, or are we going to go for defense again?

Vic: I expect the Jaguars to make a substantial offer to Mike Peterson within the next 24 hours. We'll see what happens.

Nick from Norristown, PA:
I've been nothing but a die-hard Jaguars fan since they have come into the league, but after three consecutive losing seasons I have to start to question what is causing the malfunction. After their 14-2 season in 1999, they just stopped winning. Now my question is what is causing the malfunction. Is it defense, offense or coaching?

Vic: They screwed up the salary cap and they're paying the price. It's that simple.

Zen from Santa Rosa, CA:
Thanks for keeping us all interested during the offseason. Would you think it wise to use the eighth pick on an outstanding OL player? Pass protection is a huge part of the "West Coast offense" and I also anticipate seeing more screens from the Jags this year. Why not a young guy who can hustle out in front for the RBs?

Vic: Why not the best available player, regardless of position? OL Jordan Gross of Utah fits where the Jaguars are picking.

Dave from St. Marys, GA:
Do you think the spoiled Jags fans that jumped on board during the 1996-99 seasons will give the new administration a chance, or call for the axe again next Dec. if the Jags don't make the playoffs?

Vic: Patience is the key. Anybody who thinks this is going to get done in one year is not thinking clearly.

Dave from Orlando, FL:
The Jags lost three respectable offensive linemen in Zach Wiegert, John Wade and potentially Todd Fordham this offseason. Now an area with considerable depth is a weak spot. How does the current offensive line rate in your opinion?

Vic: I like the core: Maurice Williams, Chris Naeole, Brad Meester and Mike Pearson. I'd like to see this team move Meester to center and find a guard in free agency or the draft. They need offensive lineman, but even more importantly, they need to develop the players they have.

Brandon from Jacksonville:
Will T.J. Slaughter re-sign or not, and is a third-round pick better than T.J. Slaughter?

Vic: T.J. Slaughter is a restricted free agent, which means that any team that acquired his services would have to compensate the Jaguars with a third-round pick (Slaughter's original draft spot). At this point in his career, I believe it's unlikely a team will part with a third-round pick to sign Slaughter. I expect him to remain with the Jaguars and sign the one-year tender.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
In my opinion, the Jaguars are doing a splendid job thus far of keeping their cool during this year's free agency period. Unlike the Washington Redskins, who seem to be intent on extinguishing their entire future via salary cap management destruction, the Jags seem to have abstained from signing every free agent they can get their paws on. On the other hand, some may say we are not doing enough. Your assessment, Vic?

Vic: I am very opposed to expensive free agency. I consider it to be a trap for fools.

David from Jacksonville:
As a native of Washington and a former Redskins fans, how can Dan Snyder keep wildly spending in free agency? He appears to be breaking the bank again this year. When are they going to be banished to salary cap purgatory?

Vic: There are all kinds of salary cap gimmicks a team may use to rob money from their future salary caps and create room in the present. For example, a $10 million signing bonus can be deferred. The team and player agree that only $2 million will be paid in the first year, which allows that $2 million to be prorated over the full five years of the contract. That puts the amortization in year one at a measly $500,000. But, the rest of the signing bonus is to be paid on the first day of the next year's league calendar year and, all of a sudden, the $1.5 million remaining from the first signing bonus installment is added to that $8 million deferred signing bonus, and $9.5 million must now be prorated over four years. Now, the amortization shoots up to nearly $2.4 million a year. Rest assured, the bill comes due. Some people think they can dodge the system. But they can't.

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