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O-Zone: All relative

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Sam from Orlando, FL

Safe to say the Jags completely wasted/botched Trevor's rookie deal window. Once he's on a larger deal it's going to be tough to put an elite team around him since this franchise has shown zero ability to draft and develop at any serious consistent level. The 2020 draft is one of the worst drafts a team has had from top to bottom.

This is a common theme among many Jaguars observers, and it's true that quarterback Trevor Lawrence is entering his fourth season and therefore nearing the end of the rookie contract he signed after the team selected him No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. But to say the Jaguars wasted/botched the last two or three years perhaps is a bit extreme. The Jaguars went 1-15 and 3-14 in 2020 and 2021 with a weak roster. The Jaguars climbed out of that hole by spending big in free agency in 2021 and 2022, which required much of the ample salary-cap space that the team had because Lawrence remained on a rookie contract. The result of that spending was the first back-to-back winning seasons for the franchise since 2004-2005 and an AFC South title in 2022. Also: Lawrence likely still has a season or two with a manageable cap figure and the team has a salary-cap structure/roster that reflects that. We don't yet know how all the "rookie deal" window years have played out. As for the Jaguars' 2020 NFL Draft … yeah, it wasn't good. No argument here.

Fred from Naples, FL

In most, if not all, mock drafts I see cornerback Quinyon Mitchell of Toledo being drafted ahead of cornerback Terrion Arnold of Alabama. If Quinyon Mitchell is the best corner in the draft, do you see the Jaguars trading up a few spots to get him? Perhaps the separation between the two is so small the cost outweighs the value?

This could depend on how the 2024 NFL Draft plays out ahead of the Jaguars at No. 17 overall. If there is a so-called "run" on the cornerback position, or if the draft board falls a certain way … sure, trading up or down is always possible. I would be a bit surprised if the Jaguars trade up. This is because it feels as if there will be good players at various positions that make sense available if they stay at No. 17. But that's only a guess. And pretty much anyone telling you before a draft that they're doing anything but guessing when they're discussing trades is delusional. Or they're lying. Or both.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

I doubt Trevor gets a "break the bank" contract after a "stubs his toe, bangs his head, trips and falls on his face" season. But what do I know?

And those were only the minor injuries.

Hilarious from Funnytown

The reference to a "Swiss Army" knife gave me flashbacks of our drafting of "offensive weapon" Ace Sanders.

Denard Robinson, a fifth-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2013 NFL Draft from Michigan, actually was the player the Jaguars termed "offensive weapon." Sanders, a fourth-round selection from South Carolina by the Jaguars in the same draft, was a wide receiver and returner.

Crash from Glen Saint Mary, FL

OZ! Ramblin' Man or Ramble On?


Rob from Jacksonville

I've asked a variant of this question before. In regards to being "too successful" in the draft, what is the downside to offering a cap credit if a team re-signed their drafted players. Seems there should be a positive incentive to keep players you draft and develop. I get wanting to limit buying rosters, but if you draft, you should get to keep. No questions asked.

Your scenario makes sense until you remember that part of the idea of NFL free agency is to promote parity – or at least the illusion of parity – and to promote hope for struggling franchises, or at least the illusion of it. If you allow teams to keep every good player they draft, that annual parity/hope/illusion goes away.

Bo from Winter Springs, FL

If the Jaguars wear throwback jerseys and lose, how cool will the jerseys be then?


Chief from Biloxi, MS

With the addition of Tom Gamble, can we expect him to be the GM replacement sooner than later? Hope so.

Gamble, the University of Michigan's director of player personnel the past two seasons, reportedly has re-joined the Jaguars' front office. He spent 2021 with the Jaguars, during which time he worked for Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke. He previously worked with Baalke with the San Francisco 49ers from 2005-2012 and 2015-2016. I suppose you can expect whatever you like.

Travis from Ormond Beach, FL

John! O-Zone! They're coming! They're coming! The throwbacks are coming! When will we know more? When will we see them?! I don't mind the updated logo, but we should have NEVER shifted away from the original uniform design. Even Paul Lukas at uni-watch called the original ones one of the best NFL uniforms ever. Classics never go out of style!!

Congratulations on your special day.

Eric from Jacksonville Beach

Hi, Zone. Tell me if I'm thinking of this the right way or if I'm off base. I look at big spending in free agency as a statement that we weren't successful drafting or developing a player, otherwise we wouldn't go out to spend the big free agency dollars. I know that's not always the case (see Reggie White) but figure that's a good general rule. On the flip side, I figure conversation about second contracts is a sign that went well. From my count, we're trying to figure out ways – after Josh Allen – to still pay Trevor, running back Travis Etienne Jr., cornerback Tyson Campbell, safety Andre Cisco, and even left tackle Walker Little (to an extent). Based on that logic, feels like Trent has more hits than most people give him credit for. There are misses for sure (still trying to figure out the linebacker Chad Muma pick) and some way too early to tell (running back Tank Bigsby/tight end Brenton Strange) but feels like a long way forward from the days of the past when it was all free agency and not much to look at for interest in second contracts. Hopefully a good sign of things to come!

I think Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke has "hits" and "misses" like any NFL general manager. I also think he is often overly criticized by Jaguars fans and observers. Has he been perfect since taking over as the Jaguars' general manager in 2021? No. Does he deserve at least a little credit for the Jaguars moving from 1-15/3-14 team in 2020-2021 to a team that finished with winning records the past two seasons? Yes, that also seems fair.

Jason from North Pole, AK

One thing that Trent Baalke has done a nice job of is addressing any huge needs in free agency so we can pick best player available. For example, it is easy to project a wide receiver to the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers. I don't see a talented wide receiver falling to us because there are a lot of teams with a gaping hole at that position. One for Baalke I guess?

Sure. One fer Baalke.

Levi from Boise, ID

What is the rarest play you've ever seen or covered? Rarest meaning something so deep in the rulebook you almost never see it. Are there any such rules you haven't seen, but you know of and would like to see?

I considered this question a while before answering. I haven't seen all that many Hail Marys or complete weirdness, but one play that stands out came when I was covering the AFC Divisional Playoff between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts following the 2005 season. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu in the fourth quarter of that game appeared to intercept Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, an interception that would have come very close to securing the Steelers' victory. But Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy challenged the interception, believing that Polamalu had not controlled the catch to the ground. Polamalu indeed had dropped the ball after the interception, but it appeared to most observers that he had controlled it long enough to be an interception. Officials after review ruled that indeed was not an interception. The Steelers eventually held off a late Colts rally. I asked Dungy later if he was surprised to have won the challenge. He said he was not because it was fairly obvious by the letter of the rule that Polamalu hadn't completed the catch. If memory serves, this was fairly early in that era of catch-no-catch debate. I don't know if we've solved that rule or if it ever will be solved, but that was among the "weirder" plays I've covered.

Scott from Daytona Beach

Just curious if Don is any relation to you or Jarred.

Oh, but wouldn't that be grand?