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You can't make 'em play

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

Alex from London, UK:
During the draft, does a player have any say in where he ends up? Say if one team drafted someone as their first-round pick, but the player was adamant that he did not want to play for that team, what would happen?

Vic: There is no mechanism by which a player may prohibit a team from drafting him, but teams can't force a player to sign a contract, either. If a player is drafted by a team for whom he doesn't want to play, he may wait until the following year's draft, which he will re-enter if he hasn't signed a contract. During that year, however, the team that drafted him holds his rights and may trade him. Players have used whatever means possible to persuade teams not to draft them. The most memorable occurrence involved John Elway, who said he would refuse to sign with the Colts if they selected him with the first pick of the 1983 draft. Elway threatened to sign with the Yankees if he was drafted by the Colts. The Colts drafted him, but traded him to Denver for offensive tackle Chris Hinton, who was selected by the Broncos with the fourth pick. There are less-glitzy examples of players attempting to influence the pick. Two years ago, Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth may have been trying to discourage the Jaguars from selecting him, when Haynesworth gave head coach Tom Coughlin all the wrong answers in a telephone interview two days before the draft. If that was Haynesworth's intent, it worked.

Clay from Jacksonville:
Let's pretend for a moment Del Rio was a "needs" drafter and not a "best available" drafter. What positions would you see filled in the first three rounds and in what order?

Vic: Defensive end, wide receiver, linebacker.

Otto from Richmond Hill, GA:
Since the Jags have some room under the cap this year, shouldn't the team look at re-signing/locking up some of the young talent and thus avoid what's going on in Indy with Manning?

Vic: Now you're talkin'. Use your cap room to protect your future, and the first player who comes to mind is Byron Leftwich. If and when the Jaguars are convinced he's the man, it might be a good time to do an extension. His rookie contract is for seven years but voidable after only the fifth year, and Leftwich would hold all of the cards going into the final year of his contract if he develops into one of the league's star quarterbacks by then. The Patriots saw that coming with Tom Brady and quickly extended him. As a result, Brady was only a $3.3 million salary cap hit this past season, which is an extremely manageable number for a guy who won his second Super Bowl. The Colts dragged their feet on Manning, choosing not to protect their future, and now they're paying the price.

Juan from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Has a team ever signed another team's franchise player and had to give up the two first-round draft picks? If so, who, and for whom?

Vic: The Carolina Panthers signed defensive tackle Sean Gilbert in 1998, after Gilbert had been "franchised" by the Redskins. Carolina compensated Washington with first-round picks in 1999 and in 2000, and the Redskins used those picks in making trades to acquire quarterback Brad Johnson from Minnesota in '99 and offensive tackle Chris Samuels with the third pick of the 2000 draft.

Daryn from Gainesville, FL:
Does Iowa tackle Robert Gallery remind you of Tony Boselli?

Vic: Yes.

David from Port Orange, FL:
Hey, Vic, thanks for the great "Salary Cap 101" series. Great job. I was reading in "ESPN the Magazine" that Adewale Ogunleye is probably headed out of Miami. Can you look into your crystal ball and tell if the Jaguars are interested in him?

Vic: Adewale Ogunleye is a restricted free agent who I fully expect will be tendered at a level that would require any team signing him to compensate the Dolphins with first and third-round picks. I don't know who would want to do that. RFA tenders must be made by four p.m. on March 2.

Steve from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Whoa, Vic! Unearned LTBE incentives are credited to the cap room in the year in which they are not earned? There must be a semantics problem. Please look at John from Jacksonville's 2-20-04 question again and answer with an example. Say for instance that Fred Taylor had not earned $1 million of LTBE money in '03. Since that was charged against the '03 cap, but never paid, what happens to it? Do the Jags then get a million dollars extra in cap room in '04?

Vic: The answer on 2-20-04 is correct. It's a confusing situation in which the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires a team with room on its cap at the end of the season to accept that much more in credit on that cap in the form of LTBE incentives not earned. But, if you don't have any remaining room, the credit for LTBE money not earned is applied fully to the next year's cap. Yeah, I know, that's nuts, but there are reasons for everything in the CBA. What might the reason be for this? Well, one thought is that it encourages teams to finish each season with no room remaining on their caps.

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