JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Chuck from Margate, FL
Do you think we would have all the angst about signing Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's son if former Head Coach Urban Meyer had not signed Tim Tebow? I don't. As for a King of all Funk autograph … heck yeah!!
I've written the O-Zone for more than 12 years. If I've learned anything it's that fans can muster up a good dose of angst for many reasons. To use a real-estate analogy, the Meyer-Tebow "situation" gives fans given to angst a nice "comp." If that comp didn't exist, a lot of fans would still figure a way to worry – and get a little angry – about Pederson signing his son, tight end Josh Pederson. Fans fan. It's what they do.
Lenny from London
For the salary cap, it always seems like general managers restructure contracts to push money into later years. Now that the Jags have $20 million in salary cap space this year and a lot of contracts to negotiate next offseason, can general managers restructure a contract such as wide receiver Christian Kirk or linebacker Foye Oluokun so that they make more money this year and less next year?
NFL contract restructurings typically don't result in a player making more or less money in a particular season as much as they move "money" around for cap purposes. While the Jaguars theoretically could restructure to move cap money into 2023, there's no incentive to do this because teams can "roll over" unused cap space from one season into future seasons.
Marc from Oceanway
Hey, Zone. Can you expound on how you feel about a question and what you generally mean when you answer with an "OK?" I recall that time you answered one of my submissions with the dreaded "OK." I was initially shocked and in denial. Once the truth settled in, I became despondent. I stopped eating. I was eventually able to leave the house and resume a semblance of my normal routine. It did, however, take time for me to drum up enough courage to submit another question to the O-Zone. I carefully crafted my question. I consulted a college writing professor. I finally felt confident enough to submit my question, which did indeed result in a satisfactory answer. I rejoiced!
Never use two words where one will do. Sometimes OK is enough.
Boomgrounder from Moundsville, WV
Hey, Zone. Congratulations to the Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville on the new Miler Electric Center. It appears to be a world-class, state-of-the-art facility. I remember attending the first practice open to the public on a hot day in the summer of 1995 at Bishop Kenny High School. The only thing I remember from that practice other than the hot, bright sun was the lefthanded No. 8 quarterback looked pretty good. I think No. 16 will look pretty good for quite a while at MEC.
Stan from Jacksonville
I love the Jaguars' deal with tight end Evan Engram. Not only do we potentially keep a Top 10 tight end for the next three seasons, but the Jags have sent a message to the NFL. When the Jags sign a talent to a one-year "show-me" contract, and say that they will work on a longer-term deal if the player shows his skill, they mean it. A few years ago, players were warned to avoid Jacksonville. This deal should be a major step in mitigating that feeling as we move forward. Hopefully, free agency won't be as important as it was, but maybe this will help in getting that one guy who may have looked elsewhere.
Times change fast in the NFL. My sense was any leftover negative perception of Jacksonville in NFL circles faded significantly with the hiring of Pederson in 2022 with multiple high-profile unrestricted free agents signing that offseason. The development of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and last season's success pretty much wiped away the last residue of some bad pre-Pederson seasons, but signing Engram to a long-term contract this week sure didn't hurt on that front.
Amy from Orange Park
Oh, KOAF I have a dead zone question. How much say does a team have in what a player does in his offseason? If Lawrence wanted to go bungee jumping, does he have to get permission? What if he wanted to buy a motorcycle and drive around without a helmet? Do teams and contracts set the rules, or does the NFL ? Are restrictions the same for every player or does it vary depending on the value of the player? What can happen if they did it anyways? Just curious. Waiting for training camp to start. GO JAGS!!
Most NFL contracts have standard clauses forbidding players from risky activities such as water or snow skiing, surfing, hang gliding, scuba or sky diving, mountain climbing, race car driving, riding a motorcycle, etc., without permission. If the player is injured "doing it anyway," a team can opt not to pay the contract.
Jimmy from Jacksonville Beach
Zoniac, is it true longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette created the well-known "litmus configuration" used widely to identify counterfeit $20 bills all over America in prominent establishments such as Reds bar?
I suppose I shouldn't say.
Eric from Jacksonville Beach
I've been a huge football fan most of my life but somehow have never made it to watch any of the offseason activities. My son has really gotten into football in the last few years and thought it would be fun for us to go experience it for the first time together. My question: as someone who's been to a lot in your past, are there any practices that jump out to you as a better "first experience" than others? Wasn't sure if going to one of the first or latter sessions made a difference. Excited to go break the seal and be out there with my boy!
My first thought was to calculate the number of offseason, training camp and in-season football practices I have attended in 28-some seasons covering the NFL. I opted against this. I have enough to worry about without the depression that surely would descend upon me. But putting aside three decades of cynicism, I can absolutely say the experience will be enjoyable for you and your son. The primary differences in training camp practices are between the padded and non-padded sessions. Jaguars 2023 Training Camp begins Wednesday, July 26 and most of the practices beginning the following Monday – July 31 – will be padded with contact. Enjoy.
Bob from Sumter, SC
Is it true the plans for the new stadium include a sculpture of you dozing off at your desk?
I suppose I shouldn't say.
Bradley from Sparks, NV
The last nine Super Bowl-winning teams featured second-, third- and even fourth-tier running backs. Teams are hesitant to sign even elite guys like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, etc. to long-term deals because of the injury probability and how easy it is to adequately replace them. Perhaps more of the potentially great running backs of the future will turn to soccer at an early age where there is plenty of money, fame, and longevity over in Europe. Sorry, running back.
There's some truth here. It's also true that while elite running backs, while likely to make less than other elite players at other NFL positions over careers of similar lengths, still figure to earn life-changing money that will secure them financially for life. The reality is NFL salaries are about supply and demand. If general managers and coaches valued running backs higher, their salaries would be higher. The devaluation has happened over time through natural causes. It will be a difficult trend to reverse.
GARY from Suffolk, VA
Zone, four of the Top 10 quarterbacks in the league will find their way to Duval this season, including the top three (according to NFL coaches and executives). This will be a true litmus test for our defense for sure. However, they will be competing against our Top 10 quarterback and his arsenal of offensive weapons. In your opinion, do you feel we will need to score a lot to get the W versus these teams or do you see the defensive making a big statement this year and have the ability to make the opposing offenses less of a factor?
You're referencing games against teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes) and Cincinnati Bengals (Joe Burrow). History tells us that these sorts of anticipated matchups – as with many NFL games – often stray from pregame expectations. I would anticipate that the Jaguars will need to be able to win "shootouts" to beat the Chiefs, Bengals and other high-powered NFL offenses. That's true of most NFL teams these days, and the Jaguars certainly have built an offensive-centric enough team to think that's how they probably will need to win such games.
Jerell from Columbia, SC
Zone what's good!? Super Bowl or bust?