Let's get to it . . .
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, and Section 106:
Less than two weeks ago the Rams de-commit from London in '13 and '14, and now, the Jaguars are in for four years? Coincidence? I don't think so. Fans should realize Khan is the most all-in person in the city. If he says the Jags are staying in Jacksonville, or there's going to be a world-class locker room, or there's going to be an indoor facility, or he wants to play in London, or whatever, listen up. If he commits to it, it's going to happen.
John: You know what? That might be the most salient point on this I’ve heard. I have received a barrage of emails from people concerned over losing home games, and others are concerned that this commitment to London is the first step to the franchise moving. Ask yourself this: if Khan wanted to move, why wouldn’t he just lay low in Illinois for a few years, then move the team? He has no incentive to talk about bringing business to Jacksonville if he doesn’t truly want to grow the city and along with it, the organization. Khan if nothing else has proven himself very honest. When asked about tarps, he gives his honest assessment. When asked about uniforms, he gives an honest assessment. When asked about holdout running backs, he has been pretty honest, too. He’s honestly trying to build this thing into something unique. And yes, I’d say he’s all in.
Brett from Ridgeland, MS:
Will you get your crab cakes this Thursday with it being preseason? It would be almost criminal to be in Baltimore and not have a crab cake.
John: I plan to commit no crime.
Kevin from Fairborn, OH:
Love the column. Am I right in assuming Khan's comments on Jones-Drew's trade availability were at least partially intended as a sort of warning shot to reiterate that they have no intention of giving him a new deal? If so, I think it may have been a somewhat ill-advised move due to MJD's pride.
I didn’t see the comments as much warning shots as a reiteration of what has been said all along. Khan has made clear that it’s Maurice Jones-Drew
’s choice when he wants to report. He also said, essentially, that this team isn’t about one person, but about 53. It seems that Jones-Drew’s agent – and presumably, Jones-Drew – is taking that as a shot and now Jones-Drew has made it clear he would be open to a trade. I don’t see that happening, so I don’t know that we’re in any different place than we were already.
Lance from Jacksonville:
Do you think Khan could have said something a little less harsh that challenged MJD? I understand this is Khan's team and he's going to change things around here. It just seemed a little unnecessary to say what he said. But I still respect his bold stance to not fold to a player.
John: Again, I think Khan just voiced what a lot of fans and people close to the team believe. The Jaguars (the train) are building something here. Things are good. Things are positive. There are 90 players under contract playing and one who isn’t. Khan is more concerned about the 90 players, and the 53 who will be on the final roster. He and many people believe that 53 will be a good team whatever Jones-Drew’s status. All Khan did was say that. That’s how it is around here, and I don’t see it changing.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
Can you shed some light on how contracts work, please? In the hypothetical scenario that the Jags do not rework MJD’s contract, AND he holds out through the regular season, is there any way for him to leave Jacksonville in the event that the Jags do not trade him? Or, is he essentially stuck in limbo with nowhere to go?
John: He would have to report by Week 10. If he doesn’t, then his contract essentially rolls over and he still has two years before he can become a free agent.
Anthony from Jacksonville:
What is the status of cornerback Derek Cox
? Will he be able to play this coming season?
John: Derek Cox is currently out with a hamstring, and yes, he will play this season. I suspect he will play in the regular-season opener.
Michael from Orange Park, FL:
Do you not see the team’s plan pertaining to MJD? Have him play the last two years of his contract at an underpaid rate for his talent. At the end of the contract, Franchise Tag him if he has anything left in the can; if not try to trade him then or just release him and move on. So much for team loyalty to a player.
John: Let’s make this clear: Jones-Drew already received a second contract. Running backs RARELY receive third contracts. Age and punishment to the body conspire against it. If your scenario played out and Jones-Drew played another three seasons, he probably would make about $17 million from now until the end of the third season, and he would have made $40 million over the final six seasons of his career. I imagine over the course of the next four or five seasons that won’t be absurdly low for a top caliber running back.
Jesse from Jacksonville:
How much do you charge for autographs?
John: How much ya got?
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Looks like MJD won't be here this week like you thought. This has gone from bad to worse. Our biggest star wants out. This whole situation sucks.
John: Looks like you’re right about my prediction. I don’t know that I agree with “bad to worse,” though. Except for the holdout, things are actually looking very, very good – certainly good enough that I don’t think “sucks” is going to be a big part of things no matter when or if Jones-Drew reports.
David from Wazahachie, TX:
How much work goes into answering a question?
Jesse from Jacksonville:
The Bucs have played two games in London already. Are there any facts or figures on how playing in London has helped the city of Tampa?
John: Truthfully? Not much. And I think that’s one reason the Jaguars and the league are making the four-year commitment. Having a team play there once, then not play there again does little to build up any loyalty. The league’s hope is that by having a team play there several times the fans there develop an attachment to that team, and therefore create more of a base. Now, the obvious question to follow that is, “Is the league trying to build a fan base for a possible move of the franchise?” I’d say the city of Jacksonville controls that. Khan is committed to trying to make this work in Jacksonville. That means putting a consistent winner on the field and making an effort to be a first-class organization. If that happens and the city doesn’t support the team, then down the road could London be a possibility? Perhaps, but if the team is committed and thriving and the fan base is responding and the city is growing – all of which is part of his plan – then Khan and the city and the team will have become something special, and there wouldn’t be much reason to leave that.
William from Jacksonville:
I was looking at the Wembley stadium's NFL attendance records that you wrote and I saw that the attendance dropped pretty significantly last year. Any idea why?
John: I didn’t write that, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about that Tuesday. He said it had to do with the work stoppage, and the uncertainty last offseason over whether the season was going to be played.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
I know the decision is about money. I am just not sure how, exactly. Expanding your product to international markets is good, and a small market team would be gaining good exposure. If we pick up a few supporters in the UK the Jaguars still don't make much off of merchandise. I am unsure but I don't think they would make too much in ticket sales. This does reduce the supply of seats in Jacksonville, Could you help me out here John? I know Khan is a great businessman, I am just trying to figure this out.
John: This is too simple, but it gets close. It’s about creating a brand, and it’s about trying to grow Jacksonville as an international business partner. One goes hand in hand with the other. The theory is if the city grows, the team grows more attractive and so on and so on. There’s more to it, but that’s a start.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Why are the overseas games taken from the home portion of the schedule rather than away?
John: Because the Jaguars agreed to give up their games.
Dave from Panama City, FL:
About a month ago we corresponded here in the O-Zone regarding the importance of preseason wins. I think we agreed to disagree in the end. After two preseason wins where the Jags looked pretty darn good, I’m doubling down on the preseason wins are important position. From what I see, these wins are building the confidence of the team and the enthusiasm for the fans. Any change in your thinking based on what you are hearing and seeing?
John: I don’t know that I agreed to do anything. I always have said it’s important to play well in the preseason. It was particularly important for the Jaguars’ first-team offense to play well, and that’s what has the energy level up around here – that the starting offense is showing it can be productive. Sure, the victories are nice, but I don’t think people in the organization would feel different if the reserves – many of whom won’t be around when the season begins – hadn’t pulled off a couple of late victories.
Adrian from Reading UK:
Pints of Bass? Seriously? We need to get you educated in proper beer before you head over.
John: OK, twist my arm.