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O-Zone: Big motivation

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Yawn. Not much news from the combine. Maybe it's the "Dead Offseason."

Welcome to winning. Tuesday's first day of the NFL Scouting Combine – which might be best termed "Combine Media Day" these days – indeed wasn't overly newsworthy for the Jaguars. Head Coach Doug Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke spoke to the media early Tuesday afternoon and mostly said they were expected to say – emphasizing that the 2023 offseason will be about re-signing their own players, focusing on the draft and improving from within. There also was a lot of talk about maintaining the momentum of the 2022 season and continuing to build on the culture built as the Jaguars navigated Pederson's first season en route to their first AFC South title since 2017. The Jaguars did a remarkable job in free agency the last two offseasons, particularly last offseason. They acquired players who seem to be core players. But that's rare. It's also risky. And guess what? This "quieter" offseason is how you do the offseason when you're a good team with a young, improving quarterback. You focus on re-signing potential core players. You expect your own young players to improve and trust they will do so. And remember: The early days of free agency in mid-March might look like this, too. It won't be time to panic. It will be time to remember that the best teams win in December and January rather than March and April. Good for the Jaguars. Try to enjoy the quiet. It's how things should sound this time of year.

Chuck from the Beaches

John. So, Ridley has one year left on his contract: The fifth-year option year that Atlanta exercised before he got suspended. If he is reinstated, the cap hit will be $11 million for the Jaguars. If he is reinstated prior to the league year beginning, could the Jags negotiate a change in his contract – i.e., lower base and more incentives, extension for one to two years, or other options, to reduce the cap hit for this year? Should they do so without seeing him in person? Would you do so?

The Jaguars could do this, but I doubt they will – and I certainly don't know that they should. Ridley, acquired by the Jaguars in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons last season, remains under NFL suspension. He has applied for reinstatement and all indications are he will be reinstated. But while I expect that will happen before the March 15 start of the 2023 NFL League Year, and the while the team could renegotiate his contract, remember: The Jaguars made the Ridley trade fully knowing his cap hit for 2023. They have restructured contracts of other players and moved money forward in recent weeks knowing this number. They have planned all along to carry that $11 million on the cap in 2023. I sense the plan is to have Ridley play on that deal, then evaluate whether they want to commit to him for more money – and for longer – based on how he plays. Also: A player must agree to such a deal. It wouldn't necessarily benefit Ridley to commit to a longer-term deal for the same money and the Jaguars wouldn't benefit yet from signing him to a larger contract without seeing how he fares next season. The time may come to sign Ridley to a long-term deal. But that almost certainly won't come in the coming weeks.

Gero from Wenden, Germany

Hello, John. I have seen that Gardner Minshew II is becoming a UFA. His salary is apparently not high. Why couldn't he be re-signed by Trent? He was loved in Jacksonville. Nothing against C.J. Beathard, he is a solid quarterback, but Minshew has the swag and could have learned a lot from quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Doug. Plus, he had performed well for a late-round pick. Would wish to trade/release C. J. despite extension and get Gardner. And he's younger. Your thoughts.

The Jaguars were well aware of the "swag" level of all pending unrestricted free agent quarterbacks when they re-signed Beathard as their backup quarterback last week.

Sean from Jacksonville

My memory is shot so I need to ask: What's the deal with the Lot J(?) deal? Did the city strike it down? Man, I hate getting old.

The Lot J proposal is no more. The Jacksonville City Council voted it down in January 2021, with the team and Jaguars Owner Shad Khan immediately turning their attention to plans to redevelop Metropolitan Park and the Shipyards.

Owain from Sheffield, England

Math(s) addendum for Zac: because games are being played while you're going through watching every game in history, by the time you caught up with games that had already been played when you started, you'd have some more to watch. Using the same figures of 3 hours per game, 10 hours per day, each additional season would add 85 days to your viewing. All that means is that you'd finally catch up with all past and future games after a little over 18 years.

I answered a question from Zac recently about how much time it would take to watch every game in NFL history. I did some math. I googled something. It took some time and I worried that perhaps that doing this – and therefore taking this time – made my life sadder than anyone else I knew. I'm not worried about that anymore.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

I'm digging the continuity that the front office is trying to keep by these moves. Still need to figure out others but so far, so good.

One fer the front office.

David from Oviedo, FL

Zone – In the upcoming NFL draft, the Houston Texans select No. 2, the Indianapolis Colts select No. 4 and the Tennessee Titans are in the 11 slot. It seems to me that all three teams may select quarterbacks, with all having a decent possibility of starting. The salary cap number for both Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (34) and Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (37) are over $35 million – and if released, both would result in about a $18 million dead money hit. If you were the Titans or Colts general manager what route would you go with the quarterback position?

I would take quarterback in the draft if I were the general manager of either franchise, provided I thought that there were a player available around whom to build a franchise. If such a player were available, I wouldn't worry about salary-cap ramifications of the veteran quarterbacks.

Brendan from Yulee, FL

I can only think of former center Brandon Linder and former quarterback Blake Bortles as "recent" draft pick selections to receive second contracts with the Jags. We need to start extending contracts of good players picked in the draft like Jawaan. If Jawaan doesn't get paid, I'll lose so much faith in the Jags ability to re-sign their own players and continue to build in the right direction...

The Jaguars also re-signed linebacker Myles Jack to an extension "recently," and they re-signed left tackle Cam Robinson to an extension last offseason. But I digress. The Jaguars absolutely, positively want to re-sign right tackle Jawaan Taylor to an extension this offseason. They are working to do so before he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the March 15 start of the 2023 NFL League Year. And it's a priority for this leadership group to re-sign their own players. Pederson and Baalke stated as much last offseason, and they have said as much often since. But remember: Within that stated goal, the organization must act within financial reality and with an eye on the entire roster – and the future. The Jaguars may or may not re-sign Taylor. It will be difficult and I don't think it's at all guaranteed. But if it doesn't happen, it shouldn't be considered an end-all statement on their desire to do so as much as a statement that they are paying a lot of players a lot of money – and there's simply a limit to how many cap-eating contracts you can have at any one time.

Brian from Daytona Beach, FL

I watched as Chris "QB Guru" Simms state that Zach Wilson is the best quarterback in the draft class. He continued to say to the effect of "Shad Khan will choose Trevor Lawrence to sell tickets anyway." Now I welcome player evaluations and understand results do vary, but the last part is wrong on many levels. My question is this: Should the New York Jets hire Chris "I lost my spleen" Simms to help choose their next quarterback?

Simms, like pretty much all analysts, say many things leading to NFL Drafts. Simms, like all analysts, is perfectly entitled to say these things. I haven't the first interest in what the Jets do to select their next quarterback.

Brian from Fanwood, NJ

Do you have any conceivable reason for even getting up in the morning?

Jaguars Drive Time.