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O-Zone: Arguing his point

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Andy from Alpharetta, GA

Zone - can you shed some light on why teams cut players when they do - specifically regarding Zay Jones? It's not that I'm upset or think they are wrong, but what's the harm in keeping him (or any player) through training camp and deep into preseason? What if we have injuries to key receivers during this period? Is releasing a player now more professional or "respectful" so that player has time to find a new team?

Teams within reason indeed typically try to release players at a time when they can find another team, which is why teams often release free agents before the start of the NFL's League Year in mid-March. In the case of the Jaguars releasing wide receiver Zay Jones this past Tuesday, the Jaguars apparently regarded him at least somewhat as good insurance as the third receiver. Had they re-signed wide receiver Calvin Ridley in mid-March, reports were that they were going to release Jones around that time. When they selected wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. No. 17 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft, they released Jones a few days later. Why not keep Jones in case of injury? Good question. I would have leaned toward doing just that. But there are also salary-cap ramifications to keeping veteran players– and for Jones' sake, it's somewhat better to be released now than early in training camp. Perhaps not as good as being released before the start of the new league year, but better than during camp.

Bill from Springfield, VA

Zone, late-round picks can be productive sometimes. Wasn't Joe Montana a fifth-round pick and Tom Brady a sixth-rounder?

Joe Montana was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in Round 3 of the 1979 NFL Draft and Tom Brady was selected by the New England Patriots in Round 6 of the 2000 NFL Draft.

Lenny from London

It seems like we now have twice as many defensive tackles as we do defensive ends. Do you see any players being moved to defensive end? Roy Roberston-Harris seems like a candidate.

He could do it in some packages in some situations.

Don from Marshall NC

How far the Jaguars go this year will depend on last year's draft picks. If they get enough production from that group, then the Jaguars will be dangerous. You judge the Head Coach and the General Manager by what they did with those players. It could be huge if a couple of them became stars. I am hopeful that happens. Go Jaguars!

When it comes to high hopes for the Jaguars' 2023 NFL Draft class, Don sort of kind of maybe remains "all in."

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

With what you have seen so far, would you say the Jaguars have more depth than last year, less or about the same?

About the same. Remember: Depth on most NFL teams is a bit of a misnomer. A good team can withstand a key injury – maybe two – to "core" players, and most teams can push through one injury at particular positions. More than one injury almost always significantly weakens a position group. Two is usually devastating. And perceived depth isn't always depth. Remember: Conventional wisdom was that the Jaguars weren't deep in 2022 and they withstood several key injuries on the offensive line and peaked late in the season. The same conventional wisdom was that they were deeper last season, but they couldn't withstand offensive line and receiver injuries – even though both positions were considered deep. The Jaguars currently have decent depth, but if certain key players are injured, they're probably not deep enough. As is the case with most teams.

Deane from Daytona Beach, FL

Yo, O-Zone! Now that free agency and draft is over, I have a couple of questions about transition, prior to the official start of training camp. I understand that offensive skill positions want to get comfortable with each other. For example: Wide receivers Gabe Davis and Brian Thomas Jr. wanting to work with quarterback Trevor Lawrence to get timing down on routes. My question is, how does that work for defensive guys or offensive linemen? Are there ways to get a jump on getting that gelling/chemistry going prior to training camp? What says you, O-Zone???

What I say won't necessarily jive with what coaches say about the offseason. I saw say defensive backs and linebackers can work on timing and the like in the offseason. As for offensive and defensive linemen, they can report to organized team activities. They can do the drills assigned. They can do all they can within that time to work on these things. They can even talk and believe they have made great progress in these areas. They will then make most of their progress the way offensive and defensive linemen always make progress – by working in full pads in live – or close to live – situations.

Nick from Milton, Canada

Once the roster is "set," is it possible to re-sign Trevor and use up the entirety of the cap space left for this season to frontload the heck out of the deal? Seems to make sense to use if the space instead of just letting it sit idle.

The Jaguars won't use the "entirety" of their 2024 salary cap space in this scenario. You want to leave some for signing players in the event of injury or making a midseason move. Can you use a lot of this way? Yes.

Trevor from Jacksonville, FL

There seems to be two camps when it comes to re-signing Lawrence. One side wants to extend him now because contracts will get more expensive in the future. The other side wants to wait a year for him to prove he is the long-term answer at quarterback. I seem to be the only one who thinks he is the long-term answer, and that the Jags should wait a year to extend him because it will save future cap space. Trevor is due to make less than $12 million in 2024. The top quarterbacks will make $50-55 million. Cap savings roll over each year. Unless Trevor demands $65-$70 million per year next offseason, I don't see how signing him now saves money. Or am I just bad at math?

I don't know in detail all the "camps" out there. I do know people talking about signing Lawrence – or any projected franchise quarterback – who talk in terms of "saving money" are nitpicking a bit. Could you "save" some by doing it now as opposed to next season? Some. But if/when Lawrence signs, it's almost certainly going to be a top-of-the-market deal. It's going to reset the quarterback market because the "next" quarterback to sign always resets the market. Either way, I suspect the chance to save the projected amount that's savable by doing it now as opposed to waiting until next offseason will be one reason the Jaguars and Lawrence get the deal done this offseason. If they get it done this offseason.

David from Oviedo

Zone - Going into the draft, many felt the Jaguars' biggest need was cornerback. How do you think our current cornerback room felt about this gaping hole on our roster? The projected starters at the corner were Tyson Campbell, Ronald Darby and Darnell Savage in the slot. If I were Darby and Savage, I'd think, "I haven't played a down for the team and they're already looking to replace me." It's also a slap in the face to a slew of cornerbacks who have been working their tails off, including Christian Braswell, Montaric Brown, Tevaughn Campbell, Erick Hallett, Gregory Junior and Amani Oruwariye. In the draft, we selected two more corners in Jarrian Jones and De'Antre Prince … and were still poking around in free agency. I know, it's the GM's job to continually work to upgrade the roster, and we all know that this is a business, but dang, with every decision people's lives are turned upside down.

Teams are always looking to replace or improve upon most players. Players who don't realize this are either delusional or not paying attention.

Lawrence from Blair, NE

I don't know that everyone is looking at the Brian Thomas Jr. pick the right way. Everything you do on the offense is in support of the quarterback. Even if all he ends up doing is being a vertical threat guy and big end zone target, that's a skill that Lawrence has not had at his disposal in the NFL. I'm just making up a number here, but if that kind of player can "unlock" even 15 percent more of Trevor Lawrence's potential and/or skill, that is a massive gain. Wouldn't you agree?

If Thomas makes the Jaguars' offense – and Lawrence – better he's a good selection.

Andrew from Little Elm, TX

Hey Zone! In all of your years covering the Jags, who would you say had the best rookie season in team history?

Running back Fred Taylor in 1998. A strong argument could have been made that he should have been rookie of the year.