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O-Zone: Inner thoughts

Posted Mar 1, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Let’s get to it …

Rob from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Your belief in Allen Robinson’s expected departure strikes me as more than a hunch. Is it his perceived attitude about his value that leads you to believe he will ask too high of a price? What is it that makes you doubt the team’s ability to sign him?
John: I don’t know that I’ve said that I expect wide receiver Allen Robinson to not return next season, though I have said that I believe that’s a far stronger possibility than many observers appear to believe. This is because many observers believe the Jaguars will solve this issue simply by placing the franchise tag on Robinson. I don’t see the Jaguars doing that because I believe the $16 million franchise tag for wide receivers will be too costly – in part because of what Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell explained at the NFL Scouting Combine Wednesday: “It’s a lot of money that would prohibit us from doing some things to help the team around him.” It must be noted Caldwell wasn’t saying the team wouldn’t use the tag on Robinson; rather, he was explaining the argument against using it. The argument for using it would be you don’t want to let a player of Robinson’s caliber leave. As far as the crux of your question – why I believe this is a difficult spot – here’s why: a comparison for Robinson is Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had a cap figure of $18 million in 2017 and $14 million in 2018. I believe it unlikely the Jaguars will pay that for Robinson – and I believe they will see the $16 million franchise-tag number as too high. That’s a tricky combination. One final thought about your question: You asked about Robinson’s “perceived attitude toward his value.” I have no idea Robinson’s attitude; I do know if Robinson and his representation believe he has a certain value, they absolutely should pursue that. This is life-changing money we’re discussing. When you get your chance at it, you take it.
Nick from Las Vegas, NV:
Man, can you please tell Mr. Caldwell I figured it out. The Jaguars trade the No. 29 pick in the first round and the No. 61 pick in the second round to the New York Jets for the No. 37 pick in the second round (fifth overall in second) and the No. 49 pick in the second round (17th overall in the second). They should still get a player on their short list at No. 37 that they could get at No. 29 and probably get someone at No. 49 that might not be there at No, 61. Mr. Caldwell can thank me later ... or send me to the draft to announce one of the picks from the trade!!
John: What?
Scott from Gilbert:
Zone, with all the good intent surrounding tampering rules, is it really that far-fetched to think an agent might ask his old general-manager buddy of a wide receiver- or corner-needy team a probing question or two over lunch before the negotiation window opens such as, "What do you think someone like Allen Robinson's market will look like on March 14 if he's available?" How realistic is it to think those conversations aren't privately happening in every restaurant, hotel lobby and bar in Indy right now? Thus, if something isn't done with A-Rob and/or AC in the next couple days, I'm guessing we can assume they will opt for free agency – and more than likely be playing elsewhere next year?
John: Scott, general managers and agents would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever discuss anything remotely related to prospective contracts before the NFL-mandated negotiating period. That’s against the rules. As for the Jaguars’ time frame for reaching deals with Robinson and/or Colvin, it would behoove them to get something done before the March 12 start of the negotiating period – or at least before the March 14 start of the free agency. Once guys get out there on the market, they rarely return.
JT from Rosamond, CA:
I'm happy with giving Bortles the extension. I still hope they draft a quarterback.
John: I’m glad you’re happy. Don’t get your hopes up for a quarterback early.
Nathanael from Granby, MO:
Tuesday on Folic and Wingo, Trey was predicting starting quarterbacks for every team in Week 1. He picked Teddy Bridgewater. I can't understand why so many people in the national sports media still think Bortles won't be the starting quarterback. I for one don't see any of the free-agent quarterbacks being any better or cheaper. Do these guys not really do that much research? Just use popular opinion? I just don't understand.
John: I laughed at “Folic and Wingo” …
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, what do you think of the chance they change pass interference to a 15-yard penalty instead of a spot foul? I see pros and cons to it, but I think in the end it is a good idea. There have been too many games where a pass-interference call gave great field position to allow a team to get the win.
John: I’m not getting the sense around the combine this week that this rules change is going to happen – and I believe that’s a good thing. While huge pass interference penalties indeed can change the outcome of games – see: last month’s AFC Championship Game – the problem with taking it away is it allows a beaten defensive back 50 yards downfield to tackle a wide receiver and reduce the gain to 15 yards. That has too much potential for ugliness and abuse for my taste.
Red from the O-Zone comments section:
Why do many of the negotiations between teams and players' agents take place at the NFL Scouting Combine? Is it because many of the agents are there in support of their clients who are combine participants?
John: It’s because pretty much everybody – agents, coaches, players, front-office personnel – are at the combine, and because the free-agency period is less than two weeks away. Those two factors make for a busy week on the deal-making front.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
You’ve confirmed a fear: Should the Jaguars not re-sign Allen Robinson, they will instead roll with Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, a non-top draft receiver prospect and Marqise Lee. Stated otherwise, they will not have a true No. 1 receiver and will arguably not even have a No. 2 receiver. What the heck?!? Yes, Cole and Westbrook might get a little better. Yes, the team made a deep playoff run with essentially that personnel. But c’mon, we can all agree that receiver was a monumental weak point on this roster in 2017? Not only did these guys have a chronic case of the dropsies at times, but there was never a solid threat at any level. Runners saw so many stacked boxes because teams simply didn’t care or worry about the Jaguars’ passing game. Don’t you think a plan of just going with what was there last season and hoping for the best is beneath this management team? I’m absolutely disgusted at the thought of watching those same receivers without the addition of a true No. 1 trot out onto the field in 2018. If it turns out Cole or Westbrook becomes that guy, I’ll write you an apology. But for now, they aren’t even close.
John: I do agree that wide receiver was an issue last season, and I agree Robinson would address that issue. But the Jaguars have shown in the past in negotiations with players such as Olivier Vernon that there are times they believe they must set a price and not go beyond it – and live with the short-term pain required for long-term stability. I think there will be a price beyond which the Jaguars won’t go for Robinson. Does that mean they will lose him? I don’t know. Will that mean Cole and Westbrook need to develop quickly – along with a first-round receiver? Yeah, probably.
Brian from Mandarin:
Hi John, What is the success rate for draft picks in the first three rounds? Fifty percent? Five picks in 5 years when you need four now is way too low. Should have done better. Thx, Brian
John: Hi, Brian. A striking tone of confidence runs through your question. It makes it impressive even to a reader who has no idea what it means. Thx, John.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
Has the chance of re-signing Robinson diminished BECAUSE we re-signed Blake? A-Rob didn’t seem too pleased with Blake last year. And it makes the slow nature of his contract talks make sense.
John: My guess is the slow nature of the contract talks have far more to do with salary, signing bonus and length of contract than Robinson’s feelings toward Bortles – though I must admit I’m not privy to Robinson’s inner thoughts. Actually, I’m not privy to anyone’s inner thoughts except my own – and I typically regret being privy to those.


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