Let's get to it . . . Levin from Jacksonville:
Why wouldn't a team always use the exclusive franchise tag rather than decide between the exclusive tag and the non-exclusive tag?
John: The exclusive tag allows you to guarantee yourself keeping the player, but it comes with a higher one-year contract for the player. Also, there would be cases in which the "tagging" team wouldn't mind another team signing a franchised player away. For example, the Jaguars very much want to keep Josh Scobee, but if a team signed Scobee at the price of giving the Jaguars two first-round draft selections that would be a deal most teams would love.
Lane from Longwood, FL:
O-man, the opinions fans have of potential draft picks often times differ greatly from the opinions of the NFL scouts. What do scouts see that fans don't? I trust scouts more than the average fan but it's still interesting how fans and scouts can differ so greatly.
John: Fans see college production and assume that translates to the NFL. Scouts project success in the NFL based on a player's skills, production and physical, emotional and mental attributes. As with anything, fans are sometimes wrong. I, like you, trust scouts more than the average fan, but yes, scouts sometimes are wrong, too. That's why the draft is an imperfect process.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Do you think they will get Lowery re-signed before Mar 13? If they don't they have to find another one, either in the draft or free agency. He was a bright spot last year with Landry. Are you hearing anything?
John: As is the case with defensive end Jeremy Mincey, safety Dwight Lowery is a player the Jaguars would like to re-sign. They are trying to do so. Also as is the case with Mincey, there is a limit to how much the Jaguars will be willing to pay to re-sign him. I expect the Jaguars will try very hard within reason to get something done with Lowery before March 13, because it's always tougher to re-sign a player once he hits free agency. Remember this, though: While Lowery played well last season, he was obtained for a seventh-round pick. You want to re-sign him, but it has to fit with your entire cap situation.
Jon from Jacksonville:
Could you provide a short list of Jaguars-related sites beyond the official, whether it be blogs or otherwise, that you like to check out?
John: I read Tania Ganguli and Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union and I read Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country. Tania does a very good job on the beat, as does Vito, and if you follow them and jaguars.com through the course of the year I think you're going to get a pretty comprehensive look of what's going on around the team. Big Cat Country, I think, is the best of the "non-mainstream" Jaguars-blogs. Alfie and the writers there do a very good job of offering reasonable analysis and insight.
Michael from Section 148:
If Lloyd is a free agent WR, he's on the list. They're all on the list. In a passing league you need a stable of WR's who can contribute. And we all know the Jags need them in spades.
John: If you say so.
David from Jacksonville:
This is far-fetched, but looking at the Lions Cap Space, C. Johnson being owed $22 mil for this year alone, us having a good spot for the Lions to pick up a good d-end or linebacker in the draft, our huge cap space, and lackluster WRs; would a C.Johnson for a seventh overall pick trade be worth it for both sides, assuming we get a long-term deal signed with Johnson? I see positives for both sides seeing as Johnson's franchise tag for next year would be $27 mil. As a result, he'd most likely become a FA anyway.
John: And to think St. Patrick's Day is still eight days away.
Nick from Fleming Island, FL:
When do you expect Peyton Manning to sign with a team? Maybe within the next couple days or do you expect like a week or two?
John: I think it will be before free agency begins March 13. I very well could be wrong about that, and it's pure speculation, but that's my guess. Logic and reason would dictate that the process would take longer, but it's become apparent since Manning's release that this ain't gonna be about logic and reason. When there's a big prize up for auction and the auctioneer starts talking fast, hands go up, the price goes up and logic becomes a forgotten ally.
Roger from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
The NFL Network had some extra coverage of Manning's career, and if I am not mistaken, he said he took ALL of the snaps in practice. If he came here, he would have to take all the practice throws with all the receivers for at least a year. How could anybody think that period of watching Manning throw be of any real benefit to Gabbert?
John: Would he really be of more benefit to a team without a quarterback of the future, which is what Gabbert was drafted to be, on the roster? That's a factor few consider in the conversation around Manning. While the $28 million roster bonus obviously was a major factor in the Colts' decision to release him, the reality also was that had the Colts drafted Andrew Luck and kept Manning it's very likely Luck would have had trouble getting any significant reps. As you say, the same holds true wherever Manning goes. There's simply a limit to how much a young quarterback can develop behind one of the elite quarterbacks. Those guys take all the reps, and are the focal point of the team, and all other quarterbacks on the roster are watching and waiting.
Charles from Tennessee:
Rob Johnson turned a few starts with the Jags into a big payday with Buffalo and we in turn hit it big with Freddie. Do you see any similarities with Matt Flynn possibly scoring big in free agency but then turn out to be a dud?
John: That's always a huge risk when signing a backup quarterback to be your starter based on a few starts. That's particularly true when that player comes from a team in which the offense is generally operating at a high level. It's difficult to determine if the quarterback will function as well in a different – possibly less-talented – environment. It happened with Rob Johnson, and it seemed to happen to an extent with Kevin Kolb in Arizona this season, though it's too early to write Kolb off. That's the concern many general managers have about Flynn – how well can he do away from what is clearly a high-functioning offense in Green Bay?
Michael from Kentwood, MI:
So Mario might not be headed to Jacksonville in free agency. Outside of drafting a DE in the first round (which we haven't done well with in the past) what options do we have left? Are there any DEs on the market you expect we might be looking into that we haven't already talked about? If we don't sign any do you expect we draft more than one to increase our odds at improving the position?
John: In terms of core guys who provide immediate pass-rushing help, there don't seem to be any available in free agency. That's why it's a premier position – you only get a chance at them now and again. That's also why no matter how much I caution against counting on getting Williams it's hard to shake the feeling that the Jaguars might make a run. He's an elite enough talent to break some rules.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
There are a lot of fans making a big deal about the Mathis signing. What's not to like about a one-year deal that is low risk and potentially high reward? The way I see it, if Mathis makes $5 mil next season it's a win all around. If he doesn't, he won't get his incentives and you move on next season without him. Also, just because he was voted to one Pro Bowl, a popularity contest, that doesn't mean he hasn't played at a Pro-Bowl level during his tenure with the Jags.
John: There was nothing not to like about the Mathis signing. My sense was that most of the fans who criticized it are currently in the mode of pretty much criticizing anything that happens because they are tired of losing. That's fine, and that's understandable. Everyone's tired of losing, but that doesn't make the Mathis move a bad one. As you said, it's low-risk, high-reward and was a good one for both sides. Actually, it was pretty close to a no-brainer.
Dave from Jacksonville and Section 412:
So what you're saying is that after a 5 25 nap you do this groggy? That explains a lot.
John: I don't always nap first. Sometimes, I grind for 35 minutes, then nap. Sometimes, I go five or 10 minutes on and an hour off. Just like the Eskimos have many words for snow, I have many ways to nap.
Many ways to nap
Let's get to it . . . Levin from Jacksonville: