JACKSONVILLE – Hey! More Josh Norman talk!!
Let's get to it … Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA:
If the Jags want to make a major move up in being competitive, they should draft Joey Bosa. Alas, they appear to prefer Myles Jack. History repeats itself.
John: I don't know that the Jaguars actually have given much tangible indication at all about who they prefer between Bosa or Jack – or even if they prefer those two players over other potential draftees. I didn't hear that said Friday at the 2016 pre-draft luncheon and I haven't heard much to that effect at all in recent weeks. Now, I have heard other people say they believe the Jaguars like those two players. I have heard other people say that the Jaguars should like those two players. I also have heard other people say the same thing about the Jaguars and other players. I have heard many, many things about the Jaguars and this draft. What I haven't heard is any real evidence about who Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell truly prefers. Alas, we may actually have to wait until the draft actually begins Thursday – and a long time after that, actually – to see how this No. 5 overall selection truly plays out and if the player indeed helps the Jaguars move up in being competitive.
Scott from Jacksonville:
So, what if Dave had thrown the bank at Josh Norman and made him easily the highest-paid cornerback in the league? What happens when we need to sign our own draft picks to second contracts? Should they be obligated to take hometown discounts, or will they be expected to be ridiculously overpaid, too? Paying Norman what he wanted could have made all future contract negotiations more difficult. Thoughts?
John: That perhaps played a small, small part of Caldwell's thinking regarding Norman, but it was really simpler than that. There is a number the Jaguars and Caldwell figure makes sense for a potential free-agent signee. As such, there was a number for Josh Norman. The number he was seeking was a lot higher than the Jaguars' number. Norman wanted to be paid like an elite, change-the-franchise type of player. The Redskins apparently considered him that. The Jaguars just as apparently did not.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, can you explain David Caldwell's comments about how he likes Josh Norman's size, length, ball skills, etc., but also does not think Norman would make the Jaguars defense much better? I hope Prince Amukamara earns a fat contract after his prove-it contract, but otherwise, we have a guy busted for PEDs and a bunch of other guys, too, at corner. They are also mediocre when they play at their best. Why not seize the opportunity to upgrade such a unit? Is it something else about Norman we fans aren't privy to? What gives? And please don't give us some generic response about financial responsibility. He has to spend the money, O.
John: Actually, Caldwell was asked what he liked about Norman and he said "size, length and ball skills." He was not asked, "Do you love Norman's size, length and ball skills and are they enough to make you think he will dramatically change the defense?" It's apparent that answer would have been, "No." Also, I think Caldwell generally places more value on players who line up closer to the quarterback, which is one reason I don't see him taking cornerback in the Top 5 – though Jalen Ramsey might be special enough to make him go against that thinking. As far as the final part of your question, fiscal responsibility almost certainly played a part of the Norman decision, but I think something Caldwell said late in his discussion with local writers Friday rings the most true on the issue. Caldwell talked about some non-quarterback free agents wanting quarterback money and the necessity of not paying non-quarterbacks quarterback money if they're not elite guys. I think it's safe to say that applied to Caldwell's thinking in the Norman situation.
Matt from Duval:
Jaylon Smith in Round 2. Good or bad idea?
John: How's the knee? And I mean, "Can he return to play at a high level in 2017? Are you sure? Really?"
Mike from Jacksonville:
Brace yourself O … here come the fanning fans that are gonna say fire Dave Caldwell for not going for Josh Norman. Have strength, good sir.
John: I have very little strength, but I don't really need it in this case. One cool thing about the NFL is passionate fans. Another cool thing is those fans get to have and voice their opinions. Another cool thing is owners make decisions independent of those opinions.
Rushawd from Jacksonville:
I think the Jaguars should bring Jalen Ramsey to Jacksonville. Don´t you?
Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
John, if someone who Dave Caldwell considers elite drops in the first round to say, 18-22, what would it historically take to move up from their second- round pick into that spot? Do you think the roster is to the point of trading a couple of mid-round picks to get an "elite" player, or do we still need the depth provided by those mid-round players?
John: To move from early in the second round to 18-22 would probably mean giving up the second-round selection (of course) and a third-round selection. I don't think Caldwell theoretically would be averse to such a move; he has, after all, moved up in the second and third rounds the past two drafts. Whether or not he would do it this year would depend on the player, but I wouldn't rule this out.
Mark from Green Bay, WI:
What Mark from College Park, MD was trying to say was "May I mumble Dog Face Down to the Banana Patch." Everyone knows that.
John: Give that guy a special test … get him outta here.
CD from Fleming Island, FL:
Hey John, in light of the Josh Norman situation, do you feel the contract situations of current players on the roster factor into a general manager's decision to offer a contract to a certain player? Fans always criticize players playing below their contract. I'm curious to know if players feel the same. Does a player getting a large contract factor into team chemistry, or does professionalism outweigh any potential issues? I know publicly discussing others' contracts is kinda taboo, but I wonder if in private moments, it affects relationships within the locker room. What are your thoughts?
John: Players without question discuss contracts, and it without question bothers players to a degree when they feel a player isn't living up to the contract. That's especially true if the bothered player feels he himself is underpaid. How much it hurts team chemistry varies depending on the team, player and situation. As for whether or not the contracts of current players – and the current players' feelings about the matter – factors into David Caldwell's decision-making … very little, if at all.
Brett from Jacksonville:
If Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns have comparable seasons to last year, they can move up on the Jaguars all time receiving list from 12th and 14th to fourth and fifth, respectively – behind only Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell, and Marcedes Lewis. It's going to be fun watching them shoot past that many players in just one season.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, what exactly are the Jags planning on doing with their cap space? They have more than any team in the league. And before you say, "They're saving it for their own free agents" or "do you want them to just spend money to spend it?" … that the cap is only going to go up in the next few years ... by a lot. There is almost nothing they can do at this point to get themselves in "cap trouble." Rolling over millions of dollars a year is worthless if they don't spend it. What's the plan, John? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: There is plenty a team can do to get themselves into cap trouble. Spending it on players you don't believe are elite is a start – and though the Jaguars could have paid Norman, there is an element here of needing to re-sign their own players. I was a little surprised, too, that the Jaguars didn't pursue Josh Norman, but it was apparent Caldwell didn't believe Norman was elite enough to guarantee what he wanted. Time will tell if he's right.
Jaquill from Tempe, AZ:
O, is Dante Fowler eligible to win ROY honors in 2016 despite being a 2nd year veteran?
Trae from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I sent in a question to the Zone the day the Norman news broke. I was emotional and not thinking clearly. I was emphatic we had to sign him. Now, after having time to process the information and read various other professional opinions I'm not so certain he was a must sign. I think I was fanning, I apologize.
John: No problem. You never have to apologize for fanning. Fanning is what fans do. And fans are cool. I like them. Most days.