Let's get to it . . .
Buddy from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars put the tag on Josh Scobee? What does that mean? Why doesn't the team go ahead and sign this guy? Don't let him get away.
John: It has been reported by the Florida Times-Union that the Jaguars have applied the franchise tag to kicker Josh Scobee. Because the paperwork hasn't officially been filed with the league office, we haven't written about it officially on jaguars.com, but basically what the tag means is Scobee can't sign elsewhere as a free agent. That's because although he can technically negotiate with other teams, another team would have to give up two first-round draft choices to the Jaguars. As it stands now, the Jaguars would pay Scobee about $2.6 million this season. That's if he doesn't agree to a long-term deal. The Jaguars would still like to reach a long-term contract with Scobee, and the guess here is that will happen before next season.
Steve from Ponte Vedra, FL, and Section 215:
This bounty thing has me confused. I get it that paying a bounty to take out a player can't be allowed. What I don't understand is not paying for fumble recoveries or interceptions. Don't most contracts include incentives? What's the difference between a contract and a little "reward fund" for legitimate plays?
John: The fumbles and interceptions part isn't really the problem in the sense that if it was just a bounty for fumbles and interceptions, the league wouldn't care nearly as much. While that sort of bounty essentially skirts the essence of the salary cap, it doesn't threaten the game. And before you say that bounties don't threaten the game, remember: if there's one thing that can bring down a sport it's when there is a perception that there is a criminal element or that the sport's danger outweighs its popularity. Although that probably won't happen with the NFL considering its popularity, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell clearly has made player safety the signature issue of his tenure. This strikes at the heart of that, and therefore you can expect Goodell to punish those involved accordingly. To answer a part of your question, yes, some contracts include incentives for fumble recoveries and interceptions, but those incentives are part of contracts and therefore part of a player's salary cap figure. As with seemingly a lot of things around the Saints, the "bounty" fumble recoveries and interceptions incentives were "off the books" and therefore a violation of league policy.
Scott from Jacksonville:
What happens if we pay Mario Williams to be one of the best (if not THE best) players in the league and he ends up being the second- or third-best player on our defense? These guys are still human, and I can't help but be concerned that resentment at not being ridiculously overpaid could creep into our current players psyches, potentially leading to the decay of the team-first attitude that is so prevalent among our beloved Jaguars. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Williams in teal, but do you think signing him is worth the risk?
John: I do, because he is the sort of talent that merits the risk. He also is enough of a threat as a pass rusher that even if he doesn't get huge sack numbers, he will draw the attention of opposing offenses. Translated, that means he makes teammates better. Would it breed resentment if he doesn't live up to the contract? I've always thought that was a bit overrated. Players know guys have to get paid when they can, and while every player wants to get paid, it doesn't necessarily lead to resentment. That's particularly true if the guy who is getting paid is a quality person who works hard, which all reports indicate is the case with Williams.
Michael from Section 140, Row DD:
I can see the natives getting restless already O-man. Looks as though the WR crop isn't going to be as large in FA as many had expected.
John: They may be getting restless, but they can't say they weren't forewarned. I've been writing for weeks that the free-agent crop – at receiver or any other position – won't be as big in March as it was in January. That doesn't make me a genius. It's always the case in free agency. It's why the draft is the way to build. I expect the Jaguars to improve the wide receiver position, just not with the names everyone wanted to talk about in January.
Spence from Utah:
Michael Floyd is obviously the best wide receiver in the draft. When you put everything together he is best in class. So what is the problem with him at No. 7?
John: First, I don't know that everyone in the league is onboard with Floyd being "obviously" the best receiver in the draft. He is among the best, but he also had some pretty significant off-field issues at Notre Dame. He's also not quite as smooth as some would like, though he obviously is very, very fast. The problem at No. 7? Well, the problem is you want a guy at No. 7 who is as "clean" as possible, meaning no flaws, no issues, etc. Floyd's not that.
Michael from Section 122:
Why do people think the Colts are going to draft Andrew Luck, while letting a Wayne or Garcon walk? If they let both walk, all they would have is an aging Dallas Clark as his only passing weapon. Do you honestly see the Colts letting go a young, speedy No. 2 WR?
John: Because they've already offered Garcon a deal and he rejected it. I agree that without Wayne or Garcon the Colts are pretty weak at receiver, but I can see why the Colts wouldn't go above their offer of five years, $35 million. He's a very dangerous player with speed and the ability to run after the catch, but he also is not consistent. He's sort of your typical receiver who hits free agency. Just as you can see why he would be tempting for the signing team, you can see the reason the former team is willing to allow him to leave.
Chris from Tuscaloosa, AL:
O-Man, why not have Alualu get surgery now rather than waiting to see if rehabbing it will fix it?
John: Alualu had knee surgery. Mike Mularkey confirmed as much at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Craig from Jacksonville:
Would it be improbable to see PEYTON MANNING and REGGIE WAYNE here and still get Mario Williams and a defensive end from the draft such as Ingram?
John: Yes, I think it's safe to say that's improbable.
Adam from New York, NY:
I'm sorry but I can't agree with these "red flags" on Justin Blackmon. While I will admit the combine is a necessary part of the scouting process, I feel Blackmon's so-called decline in stock is simply a product of the pre-draft time period. A time period in which there is no football and all anyone has to talk about and critique is the next big NFL event to come – the draft. And the combine is the measuring stick. It provides statistics people can reference when discussing the draft. But just because somebody gets a bad grade on a test, it doesn't mean they're stupid. The greatest wide receiver of all time didn't have the best measurables either. And that's not to say JB = JR, but his dominance against top competition shouldn't be downgraded because of some 40 time. This guy can run, jump, adjust in the air, and most importantly... catch. Is that not what the Jaguars need?
John: Yes, they do. And I'm not trying to say the Jaguars absolutely won't take Blackmon. I'm trying to get across the point that while many observers assumed Blackmon was a Top 5 pick during the college football season, there are doubts in NFL circles that that's the case. Speed in the NFL does matter. Can a player such as Jerry Rice be successful without blazing speed? Yes, and he was. But one scout at the combine said it best when Blackmon said to watch the tape if you doubted his speed, that he'd never been caught from behind. The scout said, "Right, in college." There's a huge difference between NFL speed and college speed, and most believe there's a certain speed that a receiver must be able to run to be worthy of a Top 10 selection.
Brad from Orange Park, FL:
Think of what the landscape of the NFL would look like if Gregg Williams had been successful in what he set out and encouraged his players to accomplish. He would have had his hit-squad hurt each and every quarterback they faced, subsequently jeopardizing their careers and undermining all of the fans who pay a lot of hard earned $$$ to see great players play. Goodell better go hard-in-the-paint on this one, if he expects to be taken any kind of seriously about his proclaimed vigilance.
John: I don't think you have to worry about Goodell going hard in the paint on this one. The Saints apparently were told to stop and people in the organization – especially Gregg Williams, reportedly – blatantly defied those orders. I expect a punishment more severe than any we've seen in the sport in a long time.
Adrian from Reading, UK:
Be honest with us. Is there truth in the rumors that you receive a bounty for withering putdowns, pithy comebacks and embarrassing questioners into never submitting another question for fear of ridicule?
No truth to the rumors
Let's get to it . . .
Buddy from Jacksonville: