O-Zone: Awesome, really

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

This is disappointing. Infuriating. I suppose I understand why the Jaguars had to release running back Carlos Hyde, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson, right tackle Jermey Parnell and long snapper Carson Tinker, but I just can’t get past thinking this was a major screwup. Thoughts?

I understand seeing Friday’s releases as maddening. When players get released “for salary-cap reasons,” there is a tendency to believe mistakes were made. Not in this case. While Hyde’s release less than a year after acquiring him for a fifth-round selection indeed is about correcting an error, the releases of Jackson/Parnell/Gipson/Tinker don’t fit that category. Parnell, Gipson and Jackson played a total of 10 seasons for the Jaguars and were key pieces of the 2017 AFC South title team. They all played at least three seasons and were solid-to-very good starters for the Jaguars. They were by any measure very successful free-agent signings. They also played under contracts that were structured with the idea that their releases this offseason were very possible – and that releasing them would make sense in terms of the salary cap. The Jaguars have known for some time the release of all three players was likely, and the team knew all along that a few of the 2015/2016/2017 free agents would be released this offseason. This not only wasn’t a screwup, it was the plan from the outset. No, while Friday indeed was a sad day because the team waived some popular players, it was in no way a day for saying goodbye to a bunch of errors in judgement.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Just wanted to wish the players departing well. They played solid (except Hyde) for us since they got here. Wish them well wherever they end up. These were very smart moves, though. Gipson departure could hurt the most, but there are suitable replacements in free agency.

They were smart moves when signed and necessary moves when released. Sometimes it works that way.

Rusty from New Iberia, LA

Why get rid of Hyde when Leonard Fournette can’t stay on the field? You said last year you felt it to be a mistake to get rid of Chris Ivory for a team that wants to make its identity running the ball. Better yet, why give up a draft pick to sign someone for a few games?

It was a mistake to release Ivory last offseason and not draft or sign a replacement. I’m assuming the Jaguars will have a replacement plan for Hyde and T.Y. Yeldon; if they don’t it indeed will be a mistake. The Jaguars drafted Hyde as insurance for Fournette last season and released him because they didn’t feel he was worth his $4.7 cap number to be a backup running back.

Big on Blake from Philly

Your writeup on our departing free agents was well done and a very fitting tribute. Let’s all hope these guys find new homes where they can contribute immediately if that’s what they want. Thank you and a one fer all.

Hey, one fer Jackson, Gipson, Tinker and Parnell. Here is it is.

KC from South Florida

John, can you please explain the difference between the Jags’ salary-cap situation now and the salary-cap mess the team was in early 2000s? Both situations aren't really that similar, correct?

The difference is significant. In the early 2000s, the Jaguars’ cap problems stemmed from mismanagement; they got themselves into situations where they released players with no way to replace them – and no way to create maneuverability once those players were released. The Jaguars have known for years they would need to part ways with certain players this offseason, and have planned accordingly – i.e., drafting safety Ronnie Harrison and defensive lineman Taven Bryan last offseason to replace players such as Jackson and safeties Barry Church and Gipson. Remember: Friday’s releases left the Jaguars with an estimated $32 million in cap space entering the 2019 League Year. When they were trying to fix cap issues in the early 2000s, they never had that sort of space.

Jeff from Wake Forest, NC

Dear Sir O, of the cuts made on this Black Friday, the only one that stung for me was Gipson. Really liked that dude. That said, I still believe in the Jags’ brain trust and during times like these I’m glad we have John Idzik, Jr. on our team. One for Idzik?

Yes.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh, Mighty ‘O’ / King of Funk, Donte Moncrief wore (Josh Scobee’s) No 10 jersey last season. No one wore No. 51 though, quite rightly too.

I indeed overlooked wide receiver Donte Moncrief wearing former kicker Josh Scobee’s number last season. I can’t imagine how I missed it.

Steve from Nashville, TN

What day next week will the Jaguars release Mr. Bortles?

I expect it to happen Tuesday or Wednesday.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Are you suggesting that we start the season with Jarrod Wilson as a starting safety? Do you think he would play strong or free? I think our defense will suffer more than you seem to suggest. The fact that Gip started 16 games three years in a row would seem to justify his cap number to me. He was a big part of our lauded elite secondary. Harrison replaces Church, not both guys. Do you remember what our safety play was like before Gip arrived? It was bad. An elite corner only covers one dude at a time. Third receivers and tight ends will have their way with us if we start backup quality at safety.

I never “suggested” the Jaguars wouldn’t miss Gipson – and in fact, I wrote Friday that the Jaguars may miss him more than any of the other players released Friday. But the Jaguars have two front-line corners, two front-line linebackers and three front-line defensive linemen returning. There is plenty of quality for this to be a good defense – even with two unproven safeties.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

If it’s a deep draft for tight end, why not Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf if he’s there at No. 7? Do you think the Jags could see him as a No. 1 receiver?

I believe No. 7 is too high for Metcalf. While his speed and athleticism are elite, his route-running and hands are not – and he has dealt with serious injury issues in college. I also believe offensive line or tight end will be the approach at No. 7.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

How many times do the Jaguars have to mess up until they learn? When a great quarterback is available, you get him. How many elite quarterbacks have we passed on because we thought our guy was good? Foles, while better than Blake Bortles, is not elite. You draft Haskins regardless of what it takes. Move up a spot or two. Get him. Bonus side is you don't have to PAY him as much as Foles. Then go get some O-Line protection to help him. With Haskins’ mobility and ability to extend plays he makes our running game all the better. There are plenty of solid vets that will be available as backups. Tyrod maybe, Bridgewater … there are lot of good quarterbacks that can mentor our rookie. Last thought, given the cap space we are at currently, if we go spend big on Foles, we risk getting into the end of the Coughlin era when the team had to be gutted due to major cap issues. Build for the long term, not just to win this year.

I like the idea of drafting Haskins, too, but your email implies that he’s a rock-solid, can’t-miss-elite quarterback. I wouldn’t put him in that category. He’s also not really a “mobile, extend-the-play guy” – at least that’s not really what makes him a solid prospect. Either way, while I like this idea I sort of doubt it happens. We’ll see.

Mike from Jacksonville

By all accounts, the market for Nick Foles is reported to be just the Jaguars. When the legal tampering period begins on the 11th, if Foles claims to have a competing offer from another team when negotiating a contract with the Jags, what is the process for determining the legitimacy of the offer? Do they accept the claim on good faith or do they trust but verify the offer by calling the team or do they get to see an offer sheet?

There’s no offer sheet in this case, and NFL teams have no obligation to share with other teams offers they make to free agents. It’s pretty much old-school negotiating. The Jaguars will make an offer and Foles’ people will decide if they like it enough to accept it. If they don’t, I would expect there to be a counteroffer. And so on.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

You lied to me, John. You told me marriage would be awesome. It wasn't.

Of course I lied, Mike. Why should you get to be happy?

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