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O-Zone: Hands off

Posted May 17, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Sebastian from Austin, TX:
Hey, O: Have we heard from Poz on how he feels about being removed from the middle? I believe Poz is a true professional who understands all sides of the game and recognizes it's a young man's game, but I also see him as a warrior and a leader who takes pride in his craft. Though moving to the strong side is not really a demotion, it must feel like one to a vet who has locked down that position for us and been captain for years.
John: Paul Posluszny indeed did address his move from middle to strong-side linebacker a few weeks ago – shortly after the move was made. He handled it as anyone who has been around him would have expected him to handle it – with professionalism and class, even though it was clear he understandably wasn’t thrilled with the decision. He didn’t actually call it a demotion, but it was clear it was a difficult moment for Posluszny. He said he indeed thought of himself as a middle linebacker and that the transition to a new, unfamiliar position would be the toughest challenge of his career. I can’t say for sure how Posluszny will do at the new position. I can say I would be very surprised if he doesn’t figure out a way to be successful there.
Richard from Starke, FL:
If a player under contract refuses to play for the team they are under contract with, will the team have to use a roster spot to retain his rights or is there a roster designation for this situation?
John: A holdout can be placed on the NFL’s Did Not Report list if he does not report to training camp.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
What would be more surprising? One, the Jags win nine or 10 games and are in the running for a wild card spot at the end of the season or; two, the Jags have a repeat of last year, win three or four games and pick in the Top 5 in the next draft?
John: From a national perspective, the former would be more surprising for the sole reason that the Jaguars have lost so much for so long. For me, the latter would be more surprising. I don’t expect the Jaguars to win 10 games, but I absolutely expect them to win more than four.
Cody from Boston, MA:
Yooo O, IF Bortles doesn't work out this year, do you see the Jaguars going for Kirk Cousins next season? If he wants out of Washington, do you think he would be interested in a team that is just missing the quarterback piece or a more proven team? That’s saying the Jags go under .300 after this year. Thanks!
John: Yoo, Cody: I can’t speak for Cousins, because I don’t know what would motivate him next offseason. I also don’t know for sure that if the Jaguars are looking for a quarterback next offseason that the position would be the only missing piece – though many appear to be assuming as much. As far as the Jaguars, it’s far too early to know their approach next offseason – partly because so much can change for free agents such as Cousins, but more so because we don’t know where the Jaguars will draft next offseason or how the statuses of what right now appears to be a very good quarterbacks class will change between now and then. If Cousins is on the market and he plays well in 2017 and the Jaguars see him as a fit, could they pursue him? Would he be interested at the right price? Perhaps, but that’s 10 months away. There simply are too many “ifs” and “woulds” for a meaningful answer right now.
Zach from Knoxville, TN:
Will Leonard Fournette see more playing time than Ivory and Yeldon?
John: If healthy, almost certainly.
Kenny from Rochester, NY:
The rookie contract scale makes signing players to contracts a lot faster than before. It also seems to have made it easier for teams to take players other than quarterback high in the draft due to not having the huge salary cap hit. How do you feel that has changed the NFL/Jaguars? Also, if the rookie wage scale wasn't in place with all of the high draft picks on the roster would the Jaguars be in cap trouble without it?
John: The rookie wage scale has benefited the Jaguars and other NFL teams with early draft selections in pretty much the same way – i.e., it has prevented one or two Top 2 or 3 selections from eating up an inordinate/unearned amount of salary cap space. It particularly has prevented agents from being able to negotiate franchise-crippling contracts for players who are still very much in the boom-or-bust stages of their careers. As far as the Jaguars specifically, it’s hard to say for sure what their cap situation would be without the rookie scale because they might have made different roster moves based on rookie contracts. Still, without question their cap situation would be different under the old system. Would they be in cap “trouble?” Perhaps not. Would they have as much cap space? Almost certainly not, particularly with a Top 3 quarterback on the roster.
Justin from Hampton, VA:
I don’t think the Jags will have Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson on the roster. With Lee and Robinson in line for extensions, I feel the odd man out will probably be Hurns. Lee has more upside and Robinson can dominate when the quarterback play is good. It looks like Tom Coughlin and David Caldwell are setting it up for Dede Westbrook to be the replacement. Do you agree?
John: I think Lee, Hurns and Robinson certainly all will be on the Jaguars’ roster in 2017. Whether they are all on the roster beyond that indeed is a question – and the answer could depend largely upon this season. I agree that Hurns is no more a guarantee than Lee or Robinson even though the contracts of Lee and Robinson expire after this season. The contract that Hurns signed after the 2015 season was essentially a two-year deal, so the statuses of all three can change after this season. Can Robinson re-establish himself as a No. 1 receiver? Can Hurns return to the form of 2015? Can Lee put together an entire season at his top level from last season? The answer to those questions will go a long way toward determining the receivers group moving forward.
Steve from Section 215:
I just don’t see how anyone can say that Branden Albert is a veteran and knows how to get himself ready for camp. Sure, he probably knows how to work out and get himself prepared physically. But he is coming to a new team with a new offense and new coaches. Learning the offense is also part of preparing for camp and he is not doing that. And just as an aside, who doesn’t at least show the courtesy and manners of returning their boss’s phone call? He is not required to take bad advice from his agent.
John: I can say Albert is a veteran and can get himself ready because he’s a veteran and can get himself ready. These are voluntary workouts, and if Albert participates in veteran minicamp and training camp he can be ready for the regular-season opener. As for your aside, I certainly have said several times he could have called Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone. At the same time, if he had called Marrone and said, “Hey, don’t worry, coach. I’ll be in camp in mid-June” an argument can be made that that would take away whatever leverage he and his agent feel he might have in this situation. Could Albert have called? Sure. But this is the business time of year in the NFL, and him not having called yet doesn’t mean he’s getting bad advice and it doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. It just means that he hasn’t yet made contact with the team.
James from Duval:
Why is no one talking about Brandon Allen? The kid looked good in college. Does he have a wooden leg or something?
John: Plenty of people are talking about Brandon Allen. I get questions about Allen, and I answer questions about Allen. There’s not much to say at this point about Allen other than he is entering his second NFL season and he will be competing at quarterback. I doubt he will push Blake Bortles for the starting job because no one around the Jaguars is yet indicating he will push Bortles for the starting job. Perhaps everyone around the Jaguars is keeping this a secret or perhaps something on this front will change during organized team activities or training camp. We’ll see.
Scott from Daytona Beach, FL:
I heard that T.C. is going to be sitting right next to you on game day to really see what he's dealing with.
John: That’s cool. He just better keep his paws off my sammich.

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