JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …
Nate from Granby
I'm curious why the front office thinks the wide receiver corps will be fine. Lee hasn't been healthy for large portions of his career and the breakout guy from last year, Westbrook, also has injury history. These guys also led the league in drops last year. Do they think the drops will be resolved with new quarterback Nick Foles?
The “injury history” of the Jaguars’ receiving corps is generally exaggerated – particularly in this email. Marqise Lee missed last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but his injury history prior to that is overblown by fans and media. Dede Westbrook missed time in his 2018 rookie season with a core muscle issue, but he was healthy last season and played 13 games in each of his two seasons at Oklahoma. As for the front office’s feelings on the wide receivers, the decision-makers have made it clear they believe it’s a young, ascending group. They believe Keelan Cole can return to his 2017 form. They believe Lee will return from the ACL and contribute. They believe Chris Conley can make an impact as a free agent. They believe Westbrook will continue to improve. They believe DJ Chark Jr. has first-round ability. I agree that it’s a lot of projection, and I understand why people are uneasy. But that’s why the front office feels as it does.
Matt from Jacksonville
I did extensive research and was shocked to discover that almost half of NFL players are below average.
Patrick from St. Augustine, FL
I read that Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph may be available for a mid-round draft pick. He has a nice track record of reliability, health, can block some and has been good for about 60 catches and six touchdowns a year for the past four-to-five years. He is 29 and in the last year of his contract. Do you think the Jags would have interest in your opinion? Thank you.
Rudolph makes some sense on an on-field level. It makes less sense from a $7.25-million cap-hit level. But while I’m getting a lot of questions about players such as Rudolph and safety Tre Boston, it doesn’t feel as if the Jaguars have major concerns about these positions – despite the apparent feelings of observers and fans.
Aaron from Geelong, Australia
G-day mate, I’m an Aussie fan and I was wondering if the Hags will win more games than last season? Cheers, mate – and go Jags.
I expect that will happen. The Jaguars expect it will happen. It should happen. We’ll see.
Logan from Wichita, KS
If Yannick holds out into the regular season we are in big trouble, AND if he walks because the Bortles contract crippled our salary cap then Caldwell needs to go!
Consider your threat acknowledged. But if the Jaguars don’t re-sign defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to a second contract – and I fully expect they will – it will be because of how he fits into the salary-cap moving forward, not because of Blake Bortles’ contract.
Unhipcat from Laughlin
Hi, John. I heard a rumor – a la Tom Brady – that you walked up to Jaguars Owner Shad Khan and told him you were the best hire he ever made. Is that true?
I’m funny. I ain’t that funny.
Brian from Jacksonville
Left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jawaan Taylor. These guys project as the front five on opening day. Much can happen between now and then to upset that projection, including currently rostered offensive linemen: Tyler Shatley, Josh Wells, Brandon Thomas, Will Richardson Jr., Cedric Ogbuehi, Leonard Wester, Donnell Greene and KC McDermott. These players will vie for a seat in an increasingly impressive offensive-line room. Several have NFL starting experience. A couple played extensively last year. Can any of these players seize a starting position during camp? Jaguars offensive-line depth should be stronger than in recent memory. Watching this competition unfold at camp will be fun!
I doubt training camp will hold quite the offensive-line mystery you anticipate. Robinson, Norwell, Linder, Cann and Taylor are pretty locked in as starters with Robinson’s return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament the only legitimate mystery. Shatley, Wells, Richardson and Ogbuehi are probably the favorites to be the backups with a heavy emphasis on probably – thus, the italics.
Blues Man from Jacksonville
I'm perplexed with this fan base. I've been fortunate enough to live in other NFL cities, one being where those pesky Patriots reside. Why perplexed? Has any fan ever evaluated NFL talent? Has any fan used their NFL experience to break down Quincy Williams' potential? The kid is explosive, seeks violent contact and has great burst. To be honest, this is the kind of move we need; a diamond in the rough. I say Williams has the potential to excel for the Jaguars; maybe not this year, but certainly in the future. Good for the Jags' organization for thinking and going outside the box!
Williams didn’t play in the Southeastern Conference or Atlantic Coast Conference. He also wasn’t a familiar name to multiple draft analysts. Those are hard things for many casual observers to get past when thinking about a selection.
Chris from Mandarin
I actually think the league is doing the fans a favor when they put the Jaguars against a divisional opponent in London. I would much prefer an opportunity to see the Jaguars against an opponent they seldom play in Jacksonville, as opposed to a team that is guaranteed on the schedule every season.
I’ve said often that this is a topic for which I have little feel. When I watched my favorite teams in my days as a fan, my sole concern was whether my team won or lost. If they won, I was happy. If they lost, I was irrationally angry. Seeing the glory that was the other team mattered not at all. But many fans over the years have written with these same sentiments, so there must be something to it.
AJ from Pensacola, FL
John, doesn’t the Jaguars’ 2019 salary cap prevent them from signing Ngakoue and/or cornerback Jalen Ramsey to lucrative contracts prior to the start of the beginning of the regular season?
No. The Jaguars would have to restructure and show some creativity with contracts to re-sign Ramsey and/or Ngakoue, but one can be done if they so desire. It probably wouldn’t make sense to get both done before the season because of the availability of the franchise tag for Ngakoue – and the fact that the Jaguars have exercised the fifth-year option on Ramsey for 2020.
Bryan from Tampa, FL
Your answer to Terry from Jacksonville regarding who Foles will throw to got me thinking. You named five receivers who I agree are likely to be almost shoo-ins for the 53-man roster. If the Jags kept a sixth receiver, like they did last season, who might compete for that spot?
The shoo-ins are pretty much Lee, Westbrook, Cole, Chark and Conley. As for a sixth, perhaps keep an eye on a couple of undrafted free agents – Dredrick Snelson from Central Florida or Michael Walker from Boston College. Snelson was productive at Central Florida and Walker’s skills as a returner could give him a chance. But we’re talking about undrafted free agents, so there’s a lot to develop on this front.
Bruce from Owensboro, KY
No question here John: I just wanted to thank you and this forum for introducing me to Jason Isbell's music. Got tickets for a small venue for him and Sharoll Crow in August. I couldn't be more excited! Oh yeah... go Jags! D.T.W.D.! and don't forget Moodachaayyy!!!
Sheryl will be ecstatic to hear this.
Jerell from Columbia, SC
Do you think Yannick will have an extension before or right at the start of camp? It will be tough for him to take the field know a bright-eyed bushy-tailed rookie makes 10 times more than he ever made in his career and has CLEARLY out performed his rookie deal. Pay the man jags!
Early-drafted rookies have been being paid disproportionately for long time. While I don’t doubt that would bother Ngakoue on some level, I wouldn’t expect rookie Josh Allen’s contract to be the major thing bothering Ngakoue. I do expect Ngakoue could get an extension before camp, though that’s more of a gut feeling than anything. What I mainly expect is for this to be a trickier process than many fans/observers seem to expect. People keep simply saying, “Pay him!” as if it’s a given that it must happen at any cost. It’s not going to be that easy.
Sean from Jacksonville
I think I have to take a break from all things Jaguars until training camp begins. Hoping for some highlight reels from veterans and rookies alike. I suppose it's my neutral time. What time of the year is it best for you as a Jaguars writer?
I assume this is a trick question. Every day is Christmas for ol’ Johnny-O.