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O-Zone: Always and forever

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, have we had any players opt out of the current season?

No, and that was among the major news items Thursday when Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone held his first media availability of 2020 Training Camp. Marrone said as of Thursday afternoon no players had spoken to him about opting out of the 2020 season, something players will be able to do because of COVID-19. The NFL and NFL Players Association have not yet finalized details regarding opting out, and players will have seven days from the time that happens to decide whether to opt out. Once they decide either way, the decision will not be reversable. I would be surprised at this point if any Jaguars players opt out because all players except defensive end Yannick Ngakoue have reported to TIAA Bank Field for training camp/COVID-19 testing. At this point, it would seem most or all Jaguars players have made their decisions about whether to play. We'll see.

James from Jacksonville

O-Zone, wondering how the opt out works – specifically if Ngakoue signs the franchise offer sheet and then opts out for the season. How much does he get paid? Does he get paid? Can he still be traded? Would he still be a free agent in 2021?

It's difficult to address every possibility in this situation; I'll explain it as well as I know how. If Ngakoue wants to opt out of the 2020 season for COVID-19 reasons, he first must sign the franchise tag that the Jaguars applied to him this offseason. This must happen because if he does not sign the tag, he is not under contract and won't play anywhere in 2020. If he does sign the franchise tag and opts out for the season – and if he is not deemed to be a high-risk opt out under the NFL's COVID-19 guidelines – he would receive a $150,000 stipend as an advance on his 2021 contract. In Ngakoue's case, that 2021 contract would be the 2020 franchise tender of $17.8 million because that contract would toll to next season upon his decision to opt out. He could be traded, but it's doubtful a team would trade for a player who has opted out of 2020 because a player opting can't opt back in for the season. Ngakoue in this scenario would not be free to sign with any other team as an unrestricted free agent in the 2021 offseason because he would be playing the 2021 season in his first year under the franchise tag; that's because his contract situation for 2020 would toll to 2021 when he signed the tag and then decided to opt out.

Pat from Duval

Can we all pray for Coach Coughlin?

Former Jaguars Head Coach and former Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin reportedly fractured four ribs, sustained a slightly punctured lung and needed four stitches in his head during a bicycle accident this past weekend. Here's hoping for a full recovery and return to health.

Jim from Jagsonville

Here's to a quick recovery for the Godfather, TC. Let him know we are rooting for him.


David from the Island

If I'm at the bottom of the roster and unlikely to have an NFL career and eligible for the $350,000, do I take it and move on?

Perhaps, but I don't know how often this will happen. Undrafted rookies might enter the NFL with an idea they wouldn't make it, but they don't qualify for stipends if they opt out. In the case of a more established veteran, $350,000 doesn't come close to matching even the minimum salary. Most players eligible for the stipend will have been on an NFL roster at some point, so to take the money and move on would be potentially walking away from a lot of money – and their dream. I'm not saying it won't happen. I just doubt it will be a major trend.

Al from Orange Park, FL

Has Coach Marrone lost some weight? He's lookin' good! Also, lookin' like a happy man now that he has some actual players to coach!

It appeared on Thursday's videoconference that Marrone indeed lost weight during the offseason. Good for him. He's evidently a better man than the rest of us. Go figure.

Sanford from Jacksonville

John: You are doing a great job keeping us involved during these dead times. I have a fullback question. Looking at the Jaguars' best seasons, a fullback was leading the way for our running backs. I watched the replay of the Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers from the 2017 playoffs. Tommy Bohanon had a huge role. Does our new offensive coordinator have a history of using fullbacks in his system? I know the Jaguars drafted one that looks pretty good on paper. Thanks.

I get this question often, but I'm not one who believes a team must carry a fullback – or that a team must put a particular emphasis on the position to have success. It is true that some of the Jaguars' best seasons have come when a fullback was on the roster. The team carried one in its most successful era, the late 1990s (most teams carried one then), and Greg Jones played a key role on the good Jaguars teams in the 2000s by blocking for Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. But the importance of a fullback depends on how the offensive coordinator wants to use it in the offense – and many offenses these days are effective running using a tight end or an H-back in a blocking role. It seems unlikely new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will push hard for a fullback. He didn't carry one often during his tenure as Washington's head coach. The Jaguars did sign fullback Connor Slomka as an undrafted free agent this offseason. All undrafted rookies will have a lot to overcome to make the team in 2020 considering the lack of an offseason program and truncated training camp. Stay tuned on this front. We'll know more when the pads go on in a few weeks.

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

"It's also a bit arrogant and insensitive "–" and not particularly clever". My sincere apologies- You proved my wife right.

Apology not accepted. A man must draw a line somewhere. This is where I draw mine.

Claudio Barcelona, Spain

Hi O! Has Ngakoue reported to training camp? I was surprised to know that on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement all players have to report on time to training camp to receive the accrued season on their contract. It's Article 8, Section 1(b): "A player shall not receive an Accrued Season for any League Year in which the player is under contract to a Club and in which (i) he failed to report to the Club's preseason training camp on that player's mandatory reporting date; or (ii) the player thereafter failed to perform his contract services for the Club for a material period of time, unless he demonstrates to the Impartial Arbitrator extreme personal hardship causing such failure to report or perform, such as severe illness or death in the family." This rule affects Yann situation with Jaguars? Thank you.

Ngakoue has not yet reported to camp. He is not currently under contract because he has not yet signed the franchise tag, so he doesn't have a "mandatory reporting date."

David from Jacksonville

I have been a JAGS fan since November 30, 1993! Met the ownership at the airport on that date! I am a USMC disabled Vietnam Veteran! Blood is red. We are "All the People!" Yannick needs to feed his family! If you can't feed them on 17.8 million, get a real job! I was one of your biggest fans! (Semper Fi)


Al from Orange Park, FL

Toll? I think someone in the league office made a typo typing "roll" and no one wants to admit it. Does that word make any sense to you in this case?

I made a similar joke with someone recently – that despite everyone around the NFL saying "toll" these days no one really knows what it means. Everyone except attorneys, that is. It's pretty standard legalese for how it's being used around the NFL these days.

Brett from Jacksonville

If the NFL cancels the season, does that mean the Cincinnati Bengals would have the opportunity to get both [former Louisiana State quarterback] Joe Burrow and [current Clemson quarterback] Trevor Lawrence? Then they can decide between the two and trade the other. Or do you think the draft would be more of a lottery system instead?

I could see a lottery of some kind, but it seems whatever formula would be used would be based at least somewhat on past performance. It wouldn't seem right to leave it entirely up to chance.

Steve from Hilton Head, SC

John, does your wife end every sentence with "and it's all your fault?"

Yes, but it's not a surprise. It was how she closed the vows.