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O-Zone: Playmakers needed

Posted Apr 14, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Keith from Palatka, FL:
Where were the "spin doctors" when the Mighty Casey struck out? They could have told fans swinging for the fence is really a good thing since it shows he was really trying hard. Or here's another one: the folks in Mudville could have been told teams will now think Casey is relevant since he almost hit the ball. Why can't someone just tell the truth about losing out on Alex Mack? "There is no joy in Mudville (Jacksonville) the Mighty Casey (Caldwell) has struck out.”
John: I haven’t been living on Twitter the last few days and I’ll admit I haven’t paid much attention to what’s being said about the effort to acquire Alex Mack. Your question indicates that there are people who are spinning the situation to say it’s awesome that the Jaguars tried hard or that people might think highly of the Jaguars because they almost landed Mack. You also seem to think that the Jaguars somehow failed by not signing Mack. I guess I don’t see it any of those terms. The Jaguars made an offer to Mack that they thought made sense – a reasonable, practical effort to acquire an elite-level center. I could understand criticism if they had overpaid and landed Mack at a ridiculous, cap-crippling price – or if they had made a miserable trade and cost themselves something in the process. The Jaguars are in the exact situation as two weeks ago. No better. No worse. They tried to get Mack and didn’t. It was pretty much all-reward and no-risk. I guess people see it differently. That’s OK. Everyone has a right to miss the point now and then.
Dwayne from Jacksonville:
Put yourself in Lamping's chair. How do you think the meeting will go on Tuesday?
John: I don’t wanna talk about it.
Clayton from Jacksonville:
If Houston takes Clowney in the first (to accompany Watts), does that immediately change the value for a right tackle on Caldwell's draft board?
John: A bit, perhaps, though not dramatically and not immediately. The Jaguars are still in the process of building the roster, which means trying to get as many good players in as many different positions as possible. There are 16 games in a season. The Jaguars aren’t quite at a point yet where they can afford to focus on two of those games at the expense of the other 14.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
Why can't the player choose which team offer he wants to sign under the transition tag?
John: Because that’s not the rule. The purpose of the transition/franchise tag rules is to allow teams to protect their most important players from leaving as free agents. The idea was to allow teams to maintain some sort of continuity while allowing most players the freedom of free agency. Don’t sob too much for the players who can’t become free agents. Players that fall under the franchise/transition tag system usually wind up being able to make rent the following season.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
It doesn't matter how good Watkins is if Henne can't throw and the line can't protect. Premium positions first my man. Wide outs are a dime a dozen.
John: They are until you don’t have them, anyway.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
What was Khalil Mack's response to his visit since we didn't get an interview?
John: I’m sure he liked it. Most potential draft picks are pretty impressed with most teams they visit, and since most potential draft picks have been impressed with their visit to EverBank Field there’s no reason to think Mack felt differently about the Jaguars.
Mark from Sopchoppy, FL:
In regards to the Alex Mack signing. Many people ask what is the purpose? To get a better center. "You pays your money and you takes your chances."
John: I probably don’t say this often enough, but, “You have been heard.”
Will from Jacksonville:
You can add me to the list of people who are concerned about the Jaguars waiting to the second round to draft a quarterback. I understand that it may have worked for Seattle and San Francisco, but aren't they the exception instead of the rule? If we're going to use logic like that, why not wait until the sixth round and just draft the next Tom Brady?
John: The rule, really, is that there are no rules. You keep trying to find your franchise quarterback until you find him. If you think that guy is there in the first round, then take him; if not, then don’t. The most important thing is not to force it. Wishing does not make it so, and no matter how much people want there to be a franchise guy available in the Top 5, if the Jaguars don’t see a quarterback they love at No. 3 they simply cannot take one there.
Dink from St. Mary’s, GA:
Hey, O-Man, I've been wondering … we have a 53-man roster right now and will have at the start of the season as well. With 11 new draft picks and the signing of four new free agents, that's 15 new players and two departures, both running backs. So, that means 13 people now on the roster will not be there at the start of the season, is that correct? Teams do not usually sign free agents and draft new people and then cut them after training camp and OTAs, do they? Who do you not see on the roster next year?
John: It stands to reason the 11 draft choices and free agents such as Zane Beadles, Chris Clemons, Toby Gerhart, Red Bryant, Ziggy Hood, Dekoda Watson and Tandon Doss will make the team. Yes, there will be turnover and yes, there will be players on the roster now not on the team in the fall. I prefer not to cut the team before a practice has been held, but will there be a few familiar names not on the roster? Will some of the names surprise people? I think that’s safe to say.
Jerry from Tamarac, FL:
Do you believe the Jaguars worked in the voidable part of the Alex Mack contract not only to try to get the Browns not to match but maybe thinking that they will be able to sign him after he voids the contract in a few years?
John: No. I think the Jaguars structured the contract to be expensive in the first two years, and then to be *really* expensive in Year Three, when the Browns will have to pay Mack $8 million unless he opts out. That’s where the contract would have gotten a bit difficult for the Jaguars and that’s where it could get difficult for the Browns, but did the Jaguars put a clause in so they could try to re-sign Mack in two seasons? No. Too much changes in the NFL too quickly to try something like that.
Chris from Green River, WY:
If we haven't addressed either quarterback or wide receiver in the second round, which position do you think is more likely at No. 39?
John: Quarterback.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
With how powerful the NFLPA has gotten, it seems a bit head-scratching that they would allow for a transition tag that gives a player who is ready to hit the free agency market no say in his future. It sounded like Mack wanted to come to Jacksonville and now is under contract to play in Cleveland long-term. That would seem to make things a bit awkward for both he and the team, no?
John: The NFLPA is indeed powerful, but don’t forget: the NFL is pretty powerful, too. When two powerful sides negotiate, which is what happens when Collective Bargaining Agreements are determined, each side gives a little. In order to get free agency for most of its players, the NFLPA conceded to allow franchise/transition players, which has the negative of taking control from the players but the positive of ensuring those players an awful lot of money. As far as Mack wanting to come to Jacksonville, I’m sure he did. I’m also sure players and teams know this is a business and now that Mack is re-signed in Cleveland, whatever awkwardness exists will fade quickly.
Brian from New Hampshire:
I know it’s unlikely at No. 3, but with the talk in recent days with the Jags taking Jake Matthews, I really don’t get the they-already-have-a-left- tackle argument. If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Matthews playing right tackle when Luke Joeckel was at Texas A&M? I’d love to see them paired back up with each other—not at No. 3 for Matthews, but maybe if they traded back. With Joeckel and Matthews being familiar with each other, that would help communication on what is going to be a pretty young offensive line year breaking in at least two new players.
John: I think there is a possibility the Jaguars draft an offensive tackle in the first round, and I think that possibility increases if the Jaguars trade down. That said, I don’t think that’s the route the Jaguars will take. It’s not because Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson aren’t good players and it’s not that it’s a bad idea to have two good tackles. But the Jaguars need playmakers. They’ve lacked guys who can make plays above the Xs and Os for a long time and it’s still very much a need both offensively and defensively. If there are playmakers available in the Top 10 that are the equal of the tackles available, it’s hard to argue with drafting the playmakers.

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