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O-Zone: Aging up

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

So, the Jaguars franchised Cam Robinson. I'm surprised. Why do this?

The Jaguars on Tuesday indeed announced they have placed the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson, essentially assuring he will not become an unrestricted free agent when the 2022 League Year opens on March 16. This marks the second consecutive year the Jaguars have placed the franchise tag on Robinson. Why did the Jaguars do this? A few reasons. One is they like Robinson, who improved in 2021 and perhaps had the best of his five NFL seasons. Another is they know what they have in Robinson, as opposed to perhaps selecting – and starting – a rookie at left tackle. Or even as opposed to moving second-year veteran Walker Little to starting left tackle. Perhaps the biggest reason was something General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Doug Pederson discussed last week during the 2022 Scouting Combine – that the Jaguars very much want to retain drafted players. This doesn't guarantee Robinson will be the Jaguars' long-term starting left tackle; Robinson as the franchise player will play on a one-year contract if he signs the tag and can become a free agent following the 2022 season. But it does give the Jaguars a chance to sign Robinson to a long-term contract and therefore keep a good player on the roster. That last concept shouldn't be overlooked. The Jaguars don't have enough good players. Had they allowed Robinson to leave as a free agent, the team likely would have needed to replace him with another good player – possibly with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. Keeping him allows the team to go another direction with that selection and strengthen another position.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, do you think $200 million is an absurd amount of money to pay Aaron Rodgers? Is it going to be difficult for Green Bay to keep other talent given the salary cap?

The Packers on Tuesday reportedly agreed to a four-year, $200 million deal to retain quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This is a staggering deal, but the reality is the Packers will be able to keep a lot of front-line players. The cap can be juggled in the short-term to keep expensive players. The franchise's hopes for the Super Bowl currently depend on Rodgers, and he gives them real hope to attain that goal … so, no, $200 million isn't absurd for Rodgers. Not in the context of what is and isn't absurd in the NFL these days, anyway.

Raymond Sis from Orlando, FL

It's official. The Jags' front office are morons. Pay the 62ndbest tackle in the league Top 5 money.

So, one not fer re-signing Robinson (apparently) – and one fer arbitrary rankings.

Steve from Nashville, TN

For seven consecutive years, the Los Angeles Rams will not have a selection in the first round of the NFL draft (unless they trade for one this year and next year). In your opinion is this mortgaging of the future worth it to win one Super Bowl? Or considering the randomness of successful first-round picks this franchise has enjoyed (defensive tackle Aaron Donald excepted) - really not that big of a sacrifice?

There are few things in the NFL not worth doing to win a Super Bowl. Trading for big names and entering very draft without a first-round selection as the Rams have done recently is a bit extreme, and it would be very difficult to build a franchise going that route. But does it make sense to trade for established pieces to supplement a more established roster? That's essentially what the Rams have been doing in recent seasons – and yeah, it's worth it.

Chad from Palatka, FL

The only pick the Jags should make with the first pick is Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis!

Hey, one fer Davis …

Mark from Alliance

hope jaguars pick aiden hutchison in draft pick

… and one fer michigan edge defender aidan hutchinson …

Lawrence from Omaha, NE

KOAF, I know that you are a modest man, but I want to stand up for you a bit. Everyone is challenging your integrity, but I think your role on engagement for this franchise can't be overstated. You've done an O-Zone column every day for ... years?! That's a choice you make for us fans, and I have a very hard time believing that the team would still be viable in Jacksonville without you giving us content to be engaged with *EVERY DAY* even during the doldrums of June/July. Please... one for yourself. You deserve it more than I think you or fans realize.

I indeed am "awesome" and you're correct this isn't recognized often enough. But the Jaguars would be viable in Jacksonville with or without me.

Max Matzen from Logan

Does the salary cap even matter at all anymore? (PS. Love the column)

Yes. The NFL doesn't have a hard cap, so teams can still maneuver around it and keep a lot of players they want to keep – and pay astronomical salaries to do it. Where it constricts teams is in the area of depth and mid-level players; in the long run, the cap limits teams' freedom in those areas. Witness, for instance, the Dallas Cowboys and wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Cowboys likely would retain Cooper if there was no cap; because of the cap, they may release him. If Cooper were elite, the Cowboys likely would retain him. Because he's not quite at that level, they may not. The cap therefore prevents the Cowboys from being as deep as they would like, though it doesn't prevent them from paying and retaining other front-line players.

David from Maplewood, NJ

John. Convince me that Mr. Khan didn't just lie in the presser about hiring an EVP to turn the temperature down with the fans and distract us. Sure looks like that's what happened. I know 85 percent (or more) of the fan base justifiably (his record speaks for itself) want me to fire this guy but I know better. Like he knew better about Head Coach Urban Meyer when some of us predicted it would be a disaster. He's not dumb, it is stupid to say that, but arrogant absolutely. Guess it comes with the territory of being a billionaire. Well, the Jags I think have a guy who could be a franchise guy, but they are going to screw it up. Thanks Trent! No worries. It only took 25 years to find a franchise guy. I'm sure we can get another one once this mess has passed.

I have discussed this topic specifically enough and have answered questions in this forum long enough to know fans seeking convincing are probably entrenched enough they're not going to be convinced. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan considered hiring an executive vice president of football operations. He intended to do so and said so when introducing Pederson on February 6. Khan intended to do this not to "turn the temperature down," but because he was seeking the best front-office structure to lead the franchise. After a few weeks monitoring the Jaguars after Pederson's hiring, Khan opted to move forward with Baalke and Pederson. I don't blame fans for being surprised at and suspicious of Khan's actions, and I don't know that the current direction on this is necessarily the best direction. I have said and written often that the EVP/general manager/head coach structure makes sense because an EVP can oversee football operations and report directly to Khan, thereby serving as eyes and ears when Khan isn't in Jacksonville. Khan opted to not go that route. Guess what? That's OK. It's his team. As for Khan being arrogant and not doing what fans want … it's the owner's job to lead the franchise and make decisions based on what he knows about the organization – and an owner can't lead based on fan approval/disapproval. He must make decisions knowing they're going to be criticized. Khan clearly hasn't made enough right ones; the Jaguars' record is proof of that. There's no reason that can't change. Stay tuned.

_ Cody from Rh_

Zone, do you think we have enough cap space to land three "top 15" free agents, plus depth signings and our rookie class?

The Jaguars have enough cap space to do this. Whether it happens or not likely will depend on whether the right free agents fit at the right spots at the right value.

Dakota from Dupree, SD

Zone, do you think that it would be less expensive to sign Lawrence to his next contract early next season versus two years from now with two good seasons under his belt?

The earliest the Jaguars can negotiate a second contract with quarterback Trevor Lawrence is following the 2023 season.

Mike from Port Charlotte, FL

I just wanted to let you know I've been a huge Jags fan from the beginning, and I just won the 14U flag football Super Bowl this past Sunday, as the Jaguars.

That seems unfair, but you be you.