JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL
How would the decision to opt out of the season due to Covid-19 affect a player like Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue if he doesn't sign the franchise tag?
This hasn't yet been determined – and it's an important question beyond just Ngakoue and the Jaguars; it's also important for any player who has yet to accrue enough seasons to qualify for unrestricted free agency. There are reports that the NFL and NFL Players Association are considering having the contracts of players who opt out of playing in 2020 because of COVID-19 roll over into the next year. If that happens, that means players opting out almost certainly wouldn't get paid. Or – perhaps more importantly in some cases – accrue a season toward free agency. That would mean Ngakoue would be in the same situation in the 2021 offseason and season as he was this offseason – eligible for unrestricted free agency but with the Jaguars equally able to apply the franchise tag for the first time. As is the case with many questions in this unprecedented and complicated offseason … stay tuned.
Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL
It seems like Yan suffered the perfect storm to ruin his leverage and diminish his ability to sign a long-term deal. He was involved in an elevated market where two premier players were paid big, thus elevating his expectations to unrealistic heights. The drafting of a younger, better player at his position that the team doesn't have to pay for a while further diminished his value to the team while a falloff in overall defense and team play helped lead to a falloff in his statistics. Now COVID-19 is here, he is vilified for wanting money, his holdout might not even count and we could possibly tag him for two more years if he sits out this year due to COVID-19 concerns. The original offer probably no longer stands and I'm sure he regrets not signing it. He would never admit such things and may still believe he is worth more, but he probably won't get more due to the falloff in stats the past two years. Bummer to think what might have been if he signed, was happy and could lead these other young pass rushers through the next few years. Here's hoping he plays and brings the same intensity as years past. When you have a lead, and the rest of the defense is stout against the run, there are few players better at getting to the quarterback and getting the ball out.
COVID-19 has thrust many teams and players – and indeed, the entire league – into uncertainty, and Ngakoue's situation is unquestionably trickier now than before the pandemic. I don't believe the Jaguars are going to trade him before the season, which means his ultimate decision remains whether he wants to play this season for $17 million or sit out and earn nothing. Perhaps something in the agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL regarding COVID-19 will change that. Either way, if Ngakoue does play – and I believe there's a good chance he will – I don't expect a drop-off in intensity. He has too much to lose if he plays poorly. Besides, a lack of intensity just isn't his style.
Sam from Orlando, FL
Alfie is great. I'm convinced Ryan Day is Jerrell.
Yeah … probably.
Big on Blake from Philly
John, O-Zone, KOAF-extraordinaire … I have a question for you regarding HBO's infamous training camp docuseries "Hard Knocks." This year the series will focus on both Los Angeles teams preparing for, as you've mentioned repeatedly, a very unusual and weird 2020 season. With that in mind, and recalling the days of school when the principal would sit in and the class behaved perfectly to the teacher's well-rehearsed game plan, do you think the emphasis on safety precautions and player health will be on full display? Will this be an opportunity for the NFL to showcase its practical COVID measures? Or do you foresee the players straying from the letter of the law and exhibiting the real-life approach after the principal returns to their office? This year could offer a realer look at how players are dealing with COVID and how teams and coaches are enforcing masks and social distancing in their meetings, practice and around team facilities. Your thoughts?
I give very little thought each offseason to Hard Knocks except when I'm thinking, "I hope the Jaguars aren't on Hard Knocks." As far as how the show would portray the NFL's COVID-19 measures, the measures would almost have to be a part of the show because how teams deal with precautions is going to be a major part of the day-to-day life of every training camp. I would imagine all teams are going to be incredibly diligent with their measures and I would imagine players on all teams are going to misstep and be less then ideal in distance and precautions at times. Sort of like, you know … most normal people.
Tom from The Mean Streets of Nocatee
I figured you for a Target guy, not Wal-Mart. Isn't that where you pass your inside information to @EDilla?_
I go wherever the sale takes me, and I enjoy a good Target run as much as I enjoy a trip to Wally World. And what's an @E_Dilla?
David from Jacksonville
Is the Dead Zone over yet?
Soon. David. Not soon enough. But soon.
Chris from Mandarin
Will the leadership of former Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell and former Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye really be missed? These two players went about their business in a very professional way, that is true. However, their example seems to have little to no effect on the rest of the team given the countless reports of how much of a dysfunctional mess the locker room was (by Bouye's own admission). In my opinion, leadership in the NFL is overrated, or at the least did not affect the Jaguars in the way it needed to.
There's some truth to what you say, and I perhaps was guilty of saying leadership in a recent O-Zone answer on this subject when I was probably referring more to experience. This is not to say that the leadership of the two players won't be missed. Their leadership did matter, particularly that of Campbell. And I expect you will see the benefit of that leadership in how defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen leads and develops in the coming seasons; Campbell's influence on the young player last season was evident and can only be a positive. But you're right that overall the leadership of the duo didn't seem to resonate enough with the entire locker room to show results on the field. But if their leadership won't be missed all that much, their experience did matter. It enabled them to have a positive influence on the field even though they weren't playing to the level they did in their prime.
Marty from Jacksonville
Johnny-O, speaking of breathing the same air as Gene Frenette, do you realize that you breathe in more molecules in one single breath of air than there are breaths of air on planet Earth? That means when you take a breath, you are probably sharing a molecule with everyone who has ever lived. Odds are, at least one of those molecules in that breath were breathed by Julius Caesar, or Babe Ruth, or Abraham Lincoln, or Vince Lombardi, or John Dillinger. Interesting thought, huh?
If you say so.
Richard from Jacksonville
I've seen the NFLPA would like to push the salary cap impact out as much as ten years. But, with the salary cap situation the Jaguars are in next year, having a bunch of space, it would make sense for the Jaguars to want to take as much hit on the 2021 cap as possible right? This would give the Jaguars, and other teams with small salaries, a competitive advantage against teams tight to the cap which would have to cut expensive veterans. Do you expect this will be something the Jaguars will push for?
You're referring to the NFL Players Association wanting the league and teams to spread anticipated 2020 revenue losses over nine seasons rather than trying to account all lost revenue on the 2021 salary cap. While the Jaguars do currently project to be among the teams with the most salary-cap space for 2021, and while they could theoretically benefit from other teams having to release players if the 2021 cap shrinks, I doubt the Jaguars or any other teams would push terribly hard against the idea of spreading out the cap hit if the majority of the league favors it. The idea right now is to get agreements and measures in place so that games can be played in 2020. That's Priority No. 1.
Gary from St. Augustine, FL
You realize there are a lot of people out there who hate you, right?
Why wouldn't there be?