Mailbag: No cap won't mean Wild West

Chad in Nashville, Tenn., writes: Hi Paul! I hope you're staying warm. After reading through this week's chat, I noticed that, when telling the questioner that an uncapped year is inevitable, you also said that the cap will never return. Does this mean that the most competitive and popular of all the major sports will fall into an MLB type of league where owners like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder will be able to "buy" championships by being perennial playoff teams a'la Yankees/Sox? As a fan of the NFL, one of the best reasons to watch is seeing teams come from nowhere to compete in any given year. The loss of the cap would be a shame.

Paul Kuharsky: There is a huge misperception out there that a capless season will equate to the Wild West. It won’t.

There are elements to an uncapped year that offset the financial freedoms.

Among them: Teams gain a franchise or transition tag. It takes a player six years, not four, to get to free agency. The top eight teams are restricted and can’t add a free agent until they lose one.

A new agreement could have a cap again. If it doesn’t as so many of us expect, it’ll have other mechanisms to maintain the competitive balance.

They are all smart enough to realize they can’t mess up a good thing. At least not by allowing for a league of have and have-nots.

Justin in Austin, Texas, writes: Paul, are you surprised to see the Texans ranked best in the AFC South in offense and defense? I know you say that the other stats like scoring and third down are more important and I agree with you somewhat, but scoring for the defense can be misleading I think, because they get put in some terrible positions from turnovers, being on the field too long etc. Either way, Texans finished with a top 5 offense and a top 15 defense. I'd say that’s promising, especially after being ranked last in defense after 3 weeks. Also, was wondering what you thought about Schaub now ranking 6th all time for passing yards in a season, and tied for 2nd most 300 yard passing games in a season ever? Seem to be worth a mention.

Paul Kuharsky: Schaub was excellent, especially considering the Texans' failures running it. But those failures kind of forced him to do more, and they would probably have better success as a team if some of the yards came off his arm and onto some reliable legs.

The schedule looks to be difficult, but the arrow should be up on the Texans. Especially if they add help at running back, corner, free safety and defensive tackle.

I thought they needed only a middle of the pack defense to go with that offense to be a playoff team. And they finished tied for 13th in D. Solid. Which makes the playoff miss even more disappointing.

Brian Carrico in Lynchburg, Va., writes that he’s heard how 2,000 yard rushing seasons would become commonplace if the league expanded the season to 18 games. He says 2,000 rushing yards in 18 games would be an average of 111 yards per game, or approximately 1,778 yards in a 16-game season.

The league leader has been above this 11 times since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978 (32 seasons) including the five players who have broken 2,000 yards in that time. An additional three league leaders have been close (my basis for that was 1,733 yards, which projects to 1,950 in 18 games) so conceivably we might have had about 14 of the league leaders in the last 32 years hit or approach 2,000 yards. That's certainly more common than it is now, but it's hardly "commonplace" and I have a feeling that just as most people who know NFL history know that O.J. Simpson hit 2,000 yards in a 14-game season, many would remember that Chris Johnson, Eric Dickerson, Jamal Lewis, Terrell Davis, and Barry Sanders did it in 16.

Paul Kuharsky: I agree, Brian. Good info. Thanks. I remain a proponent of an 18-game regular season if it means halving the preseason. We’ll make the mental adjustments for the numbers as warranted.

Dustin in Stanford, Calif., writes: Hey Paul, What are futures contracts?

Paul Kuharsky: At the start of the new NFL calendar year, rosters can go from 53 to 80. These are guys that fall in that middle ground. Often practice squad guys you want to keep. They wind up free after the season and you sign them for next season. Basically anyone who signs at this time of year with a team that’s done playing (and who’s not a veteran heading toward free agency getting a long-term deal) is signing a future contract.

Chris S. in Knoxville, TN writes: Paul, Can't sleep and so I'm pondering the Chris Johnson vs. LenDale White situation. I was a big White fan when we drafted him. Thought he was a great get. When we drafted CJ and found out what he was I was ecstatic because I felt like the two complimented each other so well. Also, I felt it took the pressure off of either one to have to be a feature back (something I feel like is dying out in the NFL). Now that we have all but abandoned LenDale, do you think CJ being used as a primary back is the best thing for him? How fast do you think he might wear? He made it through one season, but are the Titans shortening his NFL career by making him a feature back?

Paul Kuharsky: That’s something they must figure out. They would certainly like to scale back his workload and should, a bit.

But I say you don’t play 2010 limiting a great player much with worries about 2013. Get it while you know you’ve got it to get.

Look for more on this topic soon.

Terence Fails writes via Facebook: Should Titans fans be concerned about VYs apparent photosensitivity?

Paul Kuharsky: I think once he hits the Rose Bowl parking lot Vince Young has an allowance to wear and do anything he likes. Provided it's legal.