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O-Zone: High gear

Posted Mar 5, 2018

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Goodnight, TX:
You criticize us fans (particularly me) for pounding the table to re-sign Allen Robinson via the franchise tag, if needed. You say we need to consider how re-signing A-Rob would affect the team's ability to address other areas of the team. Explain to me why that same consideration was not given (or had less importance) when the Jaguars traded for Marcell Dareus (a rotational, albeit good, defensive tackle) and his $16-plus-million-per-year contract. Realizing that the Jaguars' run defense improved significantly after they acquired Dareus, I still would much rather retain A-Rob than have Dareus – and I think most people in the NFL would agree (otherwise, other teams would have offered more than a fifth-round pick for Dareus). At this point, if re-signing A-Rob means cutting Allen Hurns and letting Aaron Colvin walk, so be it. We can prioritize nickel corner in free agency with an older, less-expensive veteran (e.g., Orlando Scandrick, who the Cowboys are expected to release) or turn to the draft (second or third round).
John: I never have criticized fans for wanting Robinson re-signed. What I have done is consistently outlined the reasons the Jaguars likely won’t use the franchise tag on him – primarily that it indeed would preclude other offseason moves. As far as your email’s specifics, Dareus was a $5.7 million cap hit last season and will be a 10.1 million cap hit this season; he also is a former All-Pro defensive tackle, so I would caution against minimizing his value. Regarding what combination of Robinson/Hurns/Colvin you prefer, everyone is entitled to their opinion and there undoubtedly are those who would prefer Robinson back at a $16 million cap hit over any other combination. I don’t believe the Jaguars’ decision-makers share that opinion, though, so you likely will see Robinson not return and some combination of Colvin re-signing, perhaps Hurns or Marqise Lee returning and at least one other player being signed via free agency. That’s not criticism, by the way. It’s just outlining what appears likely to happen.
Nick from Las Vegas ,NV:
I would like to see Allen Robinson re-signed, but at the amount it seems like it'll cost I keep thinking investing in some pass-catching tight ends and maybe re-signing Marqise Lee would be a cheaper, better direction for the Jags’ offense and salary cap????
John: I don’t know that there’s a cheaper route available, but there may be one where you keep more players and more efficiently use your cap space and cash.
Jacqueline from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Dear O: My man Gesicki (tight end) tore it up at the combine! Can you say 41.5 in vertical! While I'm happy he did great, I was hoping he'd stay a bit more under the radar and go in the second round as he was being predicted. Now, his currency has climbed and he's looking more like a first-rounder. If we can grab him at No. 29, will there still be some great offensive lineman left to take at the end of the second? I have been thinking Jags would go offensive line first and then tight end. This changes everything.
John: It’s difficult to predict what will happen at the end of the first round in the draft because there are many moving parts before the selection. It’s far more difficult to do before free agency begins, because so much that happens during that time will influence draft-day needs. But there’s no question Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki was a standout at the combine. I’m generally a believer that there’s a better chance of a player hurting himself than helping at the combine, but Gesicki darned sure didn’t hurt himself.
Nick from Newcastle, England:
My O-man: little worried here. Got into football mid-2015 and picked the Jags due to the potential of that offense and the undercat status. A-Rob and Hurns were a big part of that — so much so that I named my fantasy team the Super Allen Bros. It’s very clear to me that at least one, maybe both, aren’t going to be returning next year. I'm going to look a fool and our wide receiver corps will be a hell of a lot worse off!! I'd also like to bring up the play where Hurns dragged his body off the pitch so that we could get off a play to win the game last year. One fer hurns.
John: While I would be surprised at this point if Robinson returns, I would be less surprised if Hurns returns. General Manager David Caldwell’s tone at the combine regarding Hurns seemed quite warm to a return, but we’ll see. I’ll be sorry to see either go. I’ve enjoyed seeing both develop into really good NFL players, and both are the kind of guys you want to see succeed – hard-working kids who seem to have good hearts and good spirits. One fer Hurns? Sure. And one fer A-Rob, too.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
First, Blake did not lead this team to the AFC Championship Game, he was merely along for the ride. Second: Don't you feel that signing Colvin would be more valuable than signing Robinson? Colvin has proven his value to this defense; Robinson has had one good (not great) year since entering the league. There have been a lot of players that tore their ACL and never returned to their pre-injury form. Not to mention that his position places extreme pressure on that area. With Robinson, you can only speculate. Finally, it will be easier to find a comparable wide receiver in free agency or the draft than to find a cornerback near to equal as Colvin. Of course we would prefer to sign both. But ...
John: First, while I don’t recall anyone saying Bortles “led” the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game, it’s incorrect to say he contributed nothing and was merely along for the ride. I honestly think it’s a pretty close call between Colvin’s and Robinson’s value. Nickel is a different enough position than outside corner that acquiring one in the draft can be tricky; most cornerbacks entering in the NFL have been the best cornerbacks on their college teams and therefore haven’t played inside extensively. That adds to Colvin’s value. I don’t know that the Jaguars are as worried as much about Robinson never returning to pre-injury form as they are the aftereffects of the injury this season; he’s young enough that he eventually should recover completely, but the first year returning from that injury usually is the most difficult.
Jaginator from (formerly of) Section 124:
I guess all I’m gonna hear from my fellow Jags fans on BB5 for the rest of the offseason is that “He’s a conference championship QB!” And, of course, this is absolutely true. Let’s look at some other conference championship QBs from the last 20 years: Mark Sanchez (twice), Chris Chandler, Shaun King, Jake Delhomme (twice), Matt Schaub, Rex Grossman, Rich Gannon, Trent Dilfer. No reason to consider drafting a quarterback early when you’ve got one of these gems sitting on your shelf.
John: Fair point.
Stanton from Jacksonville:
It seems Tom Coughlin gets most of the credit for turning this team around. I think Keenan McCardell was every bit as much. From being a 12th-rounder to a 17-year player, I cannot think of a better example of a professional. I always heard he was tough, and worked very hard for everything, plus was here during our glory years. What do you think?
John: I don’t know how to measure things like who gets or deserves credit. I do think McCardell is one of the more important players in franchise history and I think it’s time for him to be in the Pride of the Jaguars.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
This is looking like the best quarterback draft in decades. Maybe it will be. Maybe it won't. But if the Jaguars are wrong about Bortles and we don't draft our guy, we will look back at this draft as a critical mistake. A franchise-defining mistake. I hope they're right. I fear they're not.
John: Your question/concern assumes a couple of things, most notable that all of the desirable quarterbacks in this draft will be available when the Jaguars select at No. 29. I would imagine the top four quarterbacks in this draft are long gone by then and it’s quite possible at least one of the other two top quarterbacks will be gone. If the Jaguars, for instance, pass on Lamar Jackson at No. 29 and he goes on to superstardom, then perhaps the team will look back with regret. If Josh Allen goes in the top five and goes on to a similar career, I doubt anyone – certainly anyone with any feet planted in reality – will associate that much with the Jaguars.
Jarrett from Crosby, ND:
Who has the faster "highest-gear" speed? Fournette or Freddy T?
John: Taylor has been retired seven years, so my guess is Fournette’s highest-gear speed is faster now. My guess is Taylor’s was a touch faster at their primes, though I imagine the high-gear difference in reality is negligible.


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