JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …
Tommy from Jacksonville Beach:
What does it mean when a team franchises a player? Is it the same as a long-term contract?
John: Absolutely not. And as a matter of fact, it’s basically the opposite. When a team places the franchise tag on a player, it guarantees that player a high salary on par with the top-paid players at his position for one year. That looks great at first glance, but the problem is nothing is guaranteed after that. It ensures the player a big payday, but not as big a payday as a long-term contract with a big signing bonus up front. It’s the lack of the big signing bonus and guaranteed money that causes players not to like the franchise tag.
Gator from Jacksonville:
My Grandma used to tell me when I was growing up, "Gator, you ain’t never gonna amount to nothin'". Now. here I am scouting for the Jags, still waiting to hear back from Caldwell on my picks I sent in by the way, and I was published in the O Zone! Guess who was wrong...in your face Grandma!!
John: I would like to have met your grandmother. She sounds like a brilliant woman.
Brian from Mandarin:
I doubt Houston takes Clowney. They let Mario Williams go because they did not have cap space to spend so much on defensive end with J.J. Watt there. No reason to go down that road again, especially when they have the roster to expect a good rookie quarterback and the return of Cushing could take them into the playoffs. Logical? Just pondering...
John: There is some logic there, but the Texans let Williams go because they couldn’t make his second contract work in their salary cap. He signed a six-year, $100 million deal with Buffalo in the 2012 offseason. Eric Fisher’s contract with Kansas City as the No. 1 overall choice last year was five years, $23 million. That’s a vastly different animal in terms of fitting the contract into the cap. The Texans’ draft-day decision this year will be similar to that of the Jaguars – do you believe one of the quarterbacks is a franchise-level quarterback? If so, it’s a relatively easy decision.
No. 1 from Jacksonville:
So after much debate, my friends decided that I am the biggest Jaguars fan of the group. Why? They said, "Because you read the O-Zone."
John: Your friends may be right. If you read this, you must love the heck out of this team.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
So, they say Bridgewater doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as some of the other quarterbacks? I'll play along with the analogy. If he's so much more prepared for the next level then that shouldn't mean his ceiling is lower; he's just closer to his, right? Is that really a bad thing?
John: I may have to put a temporary hiatus on the Bridgewater ceiling talk; nearly two months remain until the draft and it’s already reaching and fragmenting out of control. Look, there’s no one specific thing about Bridgewater, Manziel or Bortles that causes them to not be perceived as franchise quarterback. With each, it’s a combination of things. With Bridgewater, he’s a bit of what some people call an “arm” thrower and it’s hard to imagine him putting on enough weight to look like a prototypical NFL pocket passer; that doesn’t mean he’ll fail, but it means it’s not an easy decision. Many, many successful quarterbacks have been picked apart before the draft, and players such as Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have been wildly successful despite slipping in the draft because of these co-called “deficiencies.” What does that mean for the Jaguars at No. 3 in May? That question has yet to be answered.
Garrison from Baton Rouge, LA:
Manziel/Bridgewater Cecil Shorts could put us in the playoffs next year. Chad Henne
and Sammy Watkins could not. We are not in a Super Bowl-or-bust situation where we have to immediately fill a missing piece for half of a season as is if it messes with hopes of a Super Bowl run.
I am still sort of sorting through the shattered fragments of your question, but you seem to be saying either Manziel or Bridgewater would cure a large percentage of what ails the Jaguars. I would say the people running the Jaguars aren’t certain that’s the case. You also seem to be saying that drafting Watkins or any other front-line receiver would be because of Justin Blackmon
’s situation. I would say the people running the Jaguars are certain that’s not the case.
Manning from Calgary, AB:
Other than center – likely in Round 4 or 5 – I don't expect the Jaguars to do much of anything offensive line-wise in the draft. That said, it is still a group that could use some talent and there are some young, good players available in free agency. Zane Beadles in particular stands out at left guard. Putting him between Joeckel and whoever we draft at center would be great going forward. Pasztor has played well and Nwaneri is a beast, but I'd still say the right side of the line is a bit of a question mark. Any thoughts on what we may or may not do free agency-wise on the offensive line?
John: Speculation-wise, I can’t say with confidence what the Jaguars will do in the draft or free agency on the offensive line. I do think that they’ll acquire three interior offensive lineman in the draft/free agency, and I’d guess they get at least one in free agency.
Mike from Jagsonville:
What's the difference between a general manager and a coach in skill sets for evaluating talent? I would think the coach had a big edge in talent evaluation.
John: The difference in skill sets depends on the coach and general manager involved. But one difference is in responsibility. In the case of the Jaguars, David Caldwell as general manager and the team’s personnel department are responsible for scouting players and doing much of the evaluation. The head coach and coaching staff certainly have input, but the primary responsibility lies with scouting.
Robert from Orange Park, FL:
What is the status of Jason Babin
? I heard talks he was willing to restructure his contract. What are the odds he's in a Jaguar uniform next year? Also, between Alex Mack and Sam Shields, which player do you think Caldwell is more likely to sign?
John: Jason Babin indeed was willing to restructure his contract late last season, and I got the sense late in the season he indeed wanted to return. The offseason probably will play out a while before it’s known if he will be back or not. As far as Mack and Shields, I’d be a little surprised if either are here. I think the Jaguars will target Mack and gauge the market, but I don’t know that they’ll spend as much on a center as he’s likely to draw. I don’t know that cornerback will be the top free-agent priority, which would reduce the chances Shields is here.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
How does Clowney compare to Mario Williams and Dion Jordan in terms of physical ability and defensive end skill set when they were coming out of college?
John: Most think he’s better. In fact, Charley Casserly – who drafted Williams as the Houston Texans’ general manager – recently said Clowney is a better prospect.
Tres from Lake Butler, FL:
O Man, as of Saturday, I am a first time season-ticket owner for the Jags. Any advice on how to get the best experience out of everything that the organization is offering for season-ticket holders?
John: Read the O-Zone. Read the website and attend the in-season and offseason events designed for ticket holders; they truly are really, really cool. Oh, and don’t park next to J.P. Shadrick on game day. There’s a such thing as too much “game-day experience.”
JT Starkville, MS:
So, is it possible to bring back Monroe now that he is a free agent, and at a reduced price, or does the team feel that Joeckel is plenty of talent at the position?
John: It’s possible, but Monroe is one of the top 5-to-10 players on the market. He’s not going anywhere at a “reduced price.”
Ben from Indianapolis, IN:
Reports say the Dolphins are shopping Dion Jordan. You'd have to think the Jags are at least intrigued based on his perfect fit at the LEO spot. What would you give up for him? A third rounder? Fourth?
John: The Jordan situation is intriguing. Whereas once you never would see a team try to trade second-year, highly-drafted player, the rookie wage scale has made it workable. And he does indeed appear to be a fit at the Leo. The red flag, of course, is that the Dolphins have been around him for a year and now don’t appear to want him. A team trading for him would have to trust their scouting of Jordan in college very much. A third- or fourth-rounder would make sense, but it all depends on how much you actually coveted him in the first place.
Richard from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
O Man, here's what should happen... We draft Bortles; his girlfriend moves here with him. She eventually leaves him and starts dating me. He plays angry and makes the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. Hey, I'm just looking out for everyone here. Your thoughts?
John: Down, boy.