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O-Zone: Boy of summer

JACKSONVILLE – A few more hours.

Let's get to it … Mark from Jacksonville:
YES! If the Malik Jackson/Bruce Irvin-to-Jaguars rumors are true, then let me repeat that: YES!! Instant, major upgrade – and a likely fix of our third-down defensive issues. I'm still hoping for some defensive-backfield help, but even this alone (along with the return of Sen'Derrick Marks and Dante Fowler Jr.) will make our present defensive backs soooo much better. By the way, did I mention, YES!!!
John: You absolutely mentioned yes, and because you used both CAPITAL LETTERS and !!!!!!s I know beyond a shadow of a doubt you are serious. Before we get too far into this topic let me remind you that for a few more days all of this free-agency talk here in the O-Zone is just that: talk. Nothing is official until it is official, and I have no insight into who the Jaguars actually will sign Wednesday night or Thursday until signings are officially announced. We won't discuss it in any official capacity on until the paperwork is turned into the league because … well, because demsdarules. However, IF the reports are true – and there's no reason to believe otherwise –and Jackson indeed has agreed to terms with the Jaguars, that's a huge acquisition. If the rumors are true and Irvin indeed has agreed to terms with the Raiders … well, you don't sign everyone in free agency. Either way, I don't expect that to be all the Jaguars do this week. I expect them to continue pursuing defensive-front help – and to have a deeper, more-talented pass rush next season. And no doubt that would make a whole lot about the Jaguars' defense better, particularly the secondary.
John from Jacksonville:
Are we in trouble with NFL? It states from the league office, "During the two-day period, all teams have the right to negotiate 'all aspects of an NFL player contract' with the certified agent of an impending free agent. Figures can be exchanged on a deal, but nothing can be agreed to or announced before the start of free agency on Wednesday. It's being said that we have reached a deal with Jackson.
John: Nothing official has been announced by the Jaguars or any team regarding unrestricted free agents. There's a reason for that.
Cameron from Ottawa, CA:
Can the Jags please sign Bjoern Werner? He's young and showed some good potential. Won't cost as much as other free agents, either.
John: Um …
Don from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Dave Caldwell did an excellent job in free agency last year except he failed to sign a free-agent left tackle that could provide some form of competition for Luke Joeckel. Do you think he will address that this year in free agency or the draft? I feel Joeckel needs to improve and providing him with competition could do that. What do you think?
John: The flaw in this thinking is it's just not realistic. Any left tackle that people consider legitimate competition probably isn't going to sign with the Jaguars; that's because Luke Joeckel is the starting left tackle and that's almost certainly not going to change. Also, I don't get the idea that Joeckel lacks motivation, so I'm not sure how much having someone in "competing for his job" is going to help him. He needs to continue gaining strength and experience; if he does, he'll continue to improve. That may or may not turn him into a Pro Bowl left tackle, but signing someone to "compete" with him probably won't, either.
Steve from Atlanta, GA:
How do players agree to terms with certain teams if those teams are not supposed to be talking specifics before the new league year?
John: That rule changed this year. Teams can negotiate during this "tampering" period, but they cannot sign unrestricted free agents until Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Trevor from Fernandina Beach, FL:
There's a site (rotoworld) that said Zane Beadles was not a top free agent; there were like 10 guys ahead of him, but the Jags paid him better than at least seven of them. Now, it appears they are looking at J.R. Sweezy, who Rotoworld says is average at best, but seems like we will overpay again. The same thing was said for Toby Gerhart and a few others I forget, but my point is why do the Jags overpay for guys not even in the Top 10 of available free agents while other teams got better players for less? Is Rotoworld that much more skilled than our scouting?
John: I wouldn't read too, too much into where websites rate players; at the least, I'd say it's not fair to pick and choose examples. Did Rotoworld like Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller in 2013? Where did it rate Jermey Parnell and Davon House, each of whom were good free-agent signings last offseason? Also, the Jaguars didn't pay Gerhart a lot of money – not in free-agent terms, anyway – and they essentially paid Beadles on a two-year contract that is now off the books. Free agency is not a clean, safe way to build a roster. You're usually overpaying flawed players, and when you do that, you're going to make costly mistakes. What you hope is that those mistakes are kept to a minimum and that good decisions outweigh bad ones enough to win.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
How many signings do you anticipate on the first day of free agency?
John: At least five.
Otto from Ponte Vedra, FL:
John, my one concern about moving Brandon Linder to center is we have a young potential All-Pro lineman who is very good at guard. Why do we want to take him from his position and move him to a bit more complicated position that is responsible for line calls? Especially after not playing for a year. I'd feel more comfortable getting a center with experience. Not that it's exactly the same, but we had no luck with quarterback Matt Jones in making him a wide receiver. I'm interested in your thoughts.
John: My first thought is obviously moving from guard to center is dramatically different than moving from quarterback to wide receiver – and while I wasn't here to witness his career first-hand, I think it's safe to say a lot of things went wrong for Jones beyond the position switch. The Jaguars are trying to get the best possible five linemen on the field and there is a strong thought that Linder can be a very good center. I think he's good enough to make the switch.
David from Oviedo, FL:
Johnny-O, on Jaguars Today this week you mentioned that as a kid you used to pick out all the marshmallows from the box of Lucky Charms when your parents were away. Now, that you're old and wise, this info probably means nothing to you, but did you know you now can buy online a 40-pound bag of magically delicious marshmallows – with no cereal?! I bet if you got that for Christmas back in the day you would've been more excited than when you got the official Red Ryder, carbine-action, two-hundred shot-range-model air rifle!
John: My first answer to this question was the cereal in question wasn't Lucky Charms but Count Chocula. But now that I think about it, I did it with Lucky Charms, too.
Jay from Orange Park, FL:
Help me get my head around this. If we offer Vernon big time dinero, and Vernon says YES. Miami then has a WEEK to match? Obviously Dave isn't going to stop shopping, but he does have to keep some cash set aside in the event Miami does let their player walk correct? If this is correct- it doesn't seem fair. Miami essentially would be holding millions of our cap cash hostage.
John: It may or may not be fair, but that's the rule. In this case, I wouldn't sweat it too much. If the Jaguars offer Olivier Vernon, I expect it to be high enough that Miami would have little chance to match the offer. Such is the advantage of having $80 million in cap space. Also, the Jaguars have enough space to offer Vernon, pursue other players and wait a week. That's another advantage of that $80 million.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
With all the talk about the salary cap increase for 2016 giving some teams much-needed room to maneuver to sign free agents, what does the move of the Rams to Los Angeles mean for future salary cap increases? With the return of the NFL to LA, won't revenues increase and the salary caps for future years be perhaps substantially higher than if the NFL hadn't moved a team to LA?
John: Yes, the Rams' move to Los Angeles should increase league revenue. When that happens, the teams with a lot of cap space will have more than usual and the teams with a little cap space will, too.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
Yo, John, what's good? I am batting .1000 lately on scoring dates that should be out of my league. I am making due until football returns. I will find a way to pull through. So, that's what I have been up to. Making this the summer of Mike. We've had a great start considering it isn't even summer. I'll keep you posted. #SummerofMike
John: I'm going to trust your decimal point was in the wrong place while really hoping it wasn't.

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