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You don't have to kill it

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

Dino from Jacksonville:
Is there such a thing as minimum and maximum salary for draft picks? How much did the Jaguars end up paying Leftwich? How much is the ninth pick this year expected to cost?

Vic: There's a minimum wage for all players, but not a maximum. In Byron Leftwich's case, the Jaguars agreed to a contract that included a $10.9 million signing bonus and was worth about $29 million total over five years, provided Leftwich reached all of the contract's incentives. Leftwich was the seventh pick of last year's draft and the Jaguars have the ninth pick of this year's draft. Allowing for the yearly increase and considering the fact Leftwich is a quarterback and quarterbacks usually having a higher bargaining position than players at other positions, I would expect the ninth pick of this year's draft will get a deal similar to Leftwich's.

George from Pocatello, ID:
When did you become such an ardent supporter of maintaining a healthy salary cap? Some of the first Super Bowl champions in the salary cap era ('94 49ers and '95 Cowboys) did it by wrecking their future caps with free-agent pickups such as Deion Sanders, and I remember people thinking at the time they were masters of the salary cap. Did you feel the same at the time, or did you see their demise on the horizon? Basically what I'm asking is: What caused you to develop your current views on the salary cap and free agency? Did it develop over time, or did one team's collapse turn the light on?

Vic: When the salary cap system was first introduced, I decided that somehow, some way I would ignore all of the cap's mind-boggling details and write-around the facts with vague references to pertinent information the fans wouldn't understand and would do everything possible to avoid. In other words, I was going to fake it. That was my reporter's gameplan for dealing with the salary cap, and I made those remarks to a certain owner who then made it clear my plan wouldn't work. He told me reporters had no choice but to understand the salary cap system, because it would govern everything we wrote. I was speechless, and he saw in my eyes that I was contemplating a career change, so, he offered to educate me and I accepted the offer. He furnished me with information and I began to read, and I didn't have to read much to understand the impact the cap was going to have on the future of the game. Right away, the 49ers and Cowboys were the obvious examples of how not to do it, and I can remember writing a column on the subject for "Pro Football Weekly" in 1994. The problem was the 49ers and Cowboys were the league's dominant teams, and it was difficult to drive home a point when the two teams that were counter to that point were pushing the rest of the league around. A decade later, neither the 49ers nor the Cowboys have been back to the Super Bowl, and each team has experienced some very low seasons. I think everyone understands now.

Will from Jacksonville:
We all know if a kicker has the ball go out of bounds it's a penalty. I say if the kick crosses the plane of the goal line and then goes out of bounds (to the sidelines), it's a touchback because it broke the plane before going out of bounds, so, no penalty. My friend disagrees. Which of us is correct?

Vic: You are. The sides of the end zone are treated the same as the back line. Any kick that crosses the plane of the goal line and then leaves the field of play is considered to be a touchback. Kickers are not required to "kill" the ball in the end zone. The end zone is not a golf green.

Dakhran from Teheran:
How come players at some positions earn more money than players at other positions? I understand if a quarterback earns more, but the rest of the positions should be equally important, which should give them equal amounts in salary.

Vic: Positions have equal importance, but the demands on those positions are not the same and, therefore, the players at those positions have different values. For example, left tackles are more valuable than right tackles, running backs are worth more than fullbacks, etc. Why? Because there are fewer people capable of playing left tackle and running back than there are candidates to play right tackle and fullback. The left tackle is usually up against the opponents' best pass-rusher, which makes left tackle a premium position. The running back is the player in whom his team entrusts its running game, and there are only so many players in the world capable of that responsibility. The premium positions are considered to be quarterback, left tackle, running back, number one receiver, defensive tackle, right defensive end and cornerback. Linebacker becomes a premium position if the player has "sack you, strip you" skills.

Jim from Jacksonville:
I'm curious to actually quantify how well the Jags have done in the draft in the past. Do you know what percentage of players selected in each round in the Jags' drafting history became starters? Such quantification would help in discussing which teams drafted well and which teams did not.

Vic: Quantification? Jim, this is football, not a scientific experiment. Anyhow, here's the data you requested: Ten of the Jaguars' 11 first-round picks became starters; Eight of 11 in the second round; five of 10 in the third round; one of 11 in the fourth round; two of seven in the fifth round; one of 12 in the sixth round; two of 18 in the seventh round.

Stephen from St. Augustine, FL:
On March 1, we were pleasantly teased with your multimedia program "Reporters' Corner." Not only was the information great, the quality of the program's feed was outstanding. The picture and sound were better than what I receive on my satellite. When the program started, Brian Sexton said it would be a weekly event. It is March 14 and I am getting hungry for the next one. Knowing now that it's obviously not a weekly program, as Sexton said, when can we expect to see the next installment?

Vic: When Brian gets back from Greenland.

JT from Jacksonville:
Good work with "Salary Cap 101;" very cool and very informative! I seem to remember Bo Jackson was a player for both football and baseball. Because of the season's schedules, how did he manage it, and could such a situation take place in today's games?

Vic: When the baseball season was over, Bo Jackson reported to the Raiders. Jackson had a highlight moment with the Raiders but, frankly, I don't think the arrangement was to the Royals', Raiders', or Jackson's benefit. It could happen again – provided the player isn't a quarterback – but there's really no basis for it.

Al from Savannah, GA:
Do you think the Patriots' refusal to commit to high-priced, fiscally irresponsible contracts, no matter who the player is, will start a new trend in the NFL? I applaud their efforts in putting the team first, as well as the Jags' new strategy.

Vic: The Patriots didn't invent the concept of responsible salary cap management, and they're not the only team that has been successful with it. The Eagles have been the masters of the salary cap in this decade. The Steelers could've fielded a Pro-Bowl team with the players they allowed to leave in free agency in the 1990s, yet, they were one of the decade's dominant teams. Carolina went "cheap" at quarterback this past season and look what it did for them. But the Ravens spent it all on one season and got their trophy, and the Bucs did the same thing in 2002. What it all means is that there's no one way of winning a Super Bowl. But here's the difference: The Ravens and Bucs each won one Super Bowl; the Patriots have won two. The bottom line is the Patriots are built to last; the Ravens and Bucs required dismantling.

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