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O-Zone: A day for the fans

JACKSONVILLE – Hey, pretty good little Saturday – good little weekend, actually. Excitement reigned, then disappointment took hold. A little panic followed, then a little rejoicing.

Pretty much par for the course for free agency, actually.

And it hasn't even started yet.

Let's get to it … Bill from Jacksonville:
While we of course have to wait for the signings to become official, the notion that most high-profile free agents don't want to play in Jacksonville would seem pretty accurate at this point wouldn't it John?
John: Really? It seems that way? The Jaguars reportedly are going to sign tight end Julius Thomas, and are reportedly talking with running back DeMarco Murray. The last I checked those were two of the bigger names in free agency. The Jaguars were never really in on Ndamukong Suh – something I sort of wrote sort of often probably would be the case – and Randall Cobb returned to the Green Bay Packers for less than what other teams were offering. If a player wants to return to play with his former team and that team has Aaron Rodgers on it, I'm not sure how you combat that. If you read this column at all, I sort of said sort of often it wasn't going to be realistic to sign every big name free agent that was out there – remember, there are 31 other NFL teams, many of whom also have cap space and green money. So, sorry, but to say that what happened over the weekend is some sort of commentary on how high-profile players feel about Jacksonville … maybe I missed something, but I don't see that.
Duval from Duval:
Julius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Julius Thomas … I love it!
John: We at can't report free-agency signings until they are official, and because no offers can be made yet, the reports that Broncos tight end Julius Thomas will sign with the Jaguars Tuesday is decidedly and most definitely unofficial. That said, the report on Sunday that Thomas likely will sign with the Jaguars was from a reliable reporter – Jason Cole of Bleacher Report – so there's no reason to think Thomas won't be joining the Jaguars. He's the young, receiving "move" tight end the Jaguars and their fans wanted. That's the "pro" side of the story. The skeptics and worriers will point out that he played with Peyton Manning the last three seasons and will not be playing with Peyton Manning next season. That's indeed a factor. The view here is what the view has been from the start with free agency when it comes to the prospect of signing Thomas. If you're expecting him to compile the same statistics he did with the Broncos, you're probably not being realistic. The Broncos' offense and their quarterback are far more developed and veteran than that of the Jaguars. But you don't acquire him thinking he would match those numbers. You acquire him thinking he will help young quarterback Blake Bortles and upgrade your roster and there's no reason to think he won't do both.
Stephen from Gatlinburg, TN:
Do you have a disappointment contingency for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth that will occur when free agency ends? Expectations are high, and I suspect it will bring big disappointments when somebody's desires are not met with the "right" guy. I know it's all part of the process, but I cannot help but wonder if you have already started bracing?
John: I've braced a bit, I suppose, but I'm always ready for disappointment and overreaction during these sorts of times. It's not that I believe people should be disappointed by what will take place in free agency. Not at all. I have written often that I believe the Jaguars will spend and will improve through the free-agency market this offseason. I also have written often that I didn't believe there was any way the free-agency haul would live up to the expectations or hopes of fans because I didn't believe the Jaguars were going to target, land or even have the opportunity to pursue all of the players fans were breathlessly discussing in recent weeks. There are 31 other teams, with many of them having a lot of salary cap room, and a ton of players return to their former teams. I continue to believe the Jaguars will make a free-agent splash, and that they will spend and improve. It just may not have the same look so many crave, but that was never going to happen.
Mark from Crescent Beach, FL:
Why offer Alualu a new deal? I thought we were trying to get better! Think back how often did we hear "Alualu makes the tackle or Alualu with the sack?" Great effort or a good guy does not always mean a good NFL player on the field. Please tell me TE Lewis is not our next major deal!
John: Great effort or a good guy does not always mean a good NFL player on the field, just as sacks don't always measure a defensive lineman. Signing Marcedes Lewis is not the next major deal, and while Alualu wasn't a major signing it was a smart one to re-sign a good, reliable player.
Doug from Jacksonville:
Cobb stays with the Pack for a big chunk of money. Do they have enough to sign Bulaga too? Here's hoping not.
John: That's a reasonable hope. Bulaga is a very logical target, and there are legitimate reports that the Jaguars are very interested. As for the chances for Bulaga, we'll see. It became tougher when the Packers re-signed Cobb, but I'm always more surprised than not when a good, young player hits free agency.
Andy from Shifnal, UK:
I hope you're enjoying the offseason speculating as much as I am! I can't work out where our free safety of the future comes from, though. If we can't land Devin McCourty, can you see any other free agents worth having? Otherwise it's the draft route. Who would you pick, if we had to draft one?
John: I probably am not enjoying the speculation as much as you, but that's OK. Enjoyment is overplayed. As far as the free safety of the future, I think it will be asking an awful lot for a rookie to start at free safety for the Jaguars next season. What they need there is a veteran who can play well right away, and it's hard to see any of the rookies in this class being that type of player. That does lead to a dilemma of what to do if they don't land McCourty. I've seen names such as Ron Parker of the Chiefs mentioned with the Jaguars. He makes some sense.
Jamie from Santa Rosa Beach, CA:
Johnny O, I'm reading reports saying that Dave Caldwell is in talks with Julius Thomas and Demarco Murray, which is great and actually is getting me very excited about this free agency. But, I would have hoped to see more talks about how close they are to a deal with a "blue chip" right tackle like Bryan Bulaga. I'm a firm believer in if the quarterback doesn't have time to throw or the running back doesn't have any lanes to run through, it doesn't matter how good they are if they have no opportunities. So you can sign all the guys you want to but please reassure me that they are going to "fix" this O-line.
John: They're not ignoring the offensive line, and remember: how many "talks" you see largely depends on the agent's willingness to have "talks" with media members. Free agency hasn't started yet. In fact, it doesn't start Monday or Tuesday morning. It starts Tuesday at 4 p.m.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, I know fans don't want to hear this, but our offense will likely take a step back with a new playbook to learn? I'm not sure if fans can handle the truth?
John: Fans certainly don't like hearing that, but sure … there is a risk of a step back in the learning process. In this case, I don't think you'll see a huge step back over the long haul. I'd expect some stumbling early as young faces and new faces get used to new coaches and a new system, but in the long term … well, it's not as if the Jaguars were functioning on a high level last season. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a better performance in 2015.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Do you think we'll really have to wait until 4:01? Or do you think the "leaks" will begin long before?
John: I think the leaks began minutes into the negotiation period Saturday and I don't think the news is going to stop Tuesday evening.
Jim from Meridian:
John: When you retire, will you retire as a Jaguar, or sign a one-day contract with the Colts?
John: I'd prefer the former and can't see any way in the world the latter would ever, ever, ever happen. More likely, they'll force me out and change my code. I don't want to grow old gracefully. I don't want to go 'til it's too late. I'll be some old man in the road somewhere kneeling down in the dust by the side of the interstate.
Shane from Jacksonville:
John: Thanks.
Chaz from Crescent City, FL:
So far, I'm really disappointed with free agency. With all our cap space, our biggest free-agent has been Tyson Alualu ... WOW!! Are we now living up to our national-media reputation?..."The most bewildering, sub-mediocre team in the NFL?"
John: Fans fanning big-time today.

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