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O-Zone: Brand new day

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

CD from Fleming Island, FL

Hey, John. The numbers for Kirk at first glance appear to be pretty staggering, but after digging a little deeper, it looks like the guaranteed numbers aren't as large (though still a big payday!), and is a bit of a case of sticker shock. Is that correct in your estimation? And are you surprised at Chark's deal by comparison? Really seems like he or the Jags were ready to move on based on the deal he got in Detroit.

I've reached the point where NFL contract numbers – for free agents or otherwise – never surprise me much. Wide receiver Christian Kirk's contract with the Jaguars originally was reported as being worth $84 million over four years. It in fact appears better described as a two-year contract with about $37 guaranteed. Is it a lot? Sure, but teams always overpay in free agency – and the Jaguars had to be aggressive financially this offseason to draw interest from good free agents after four victories over the past two seasons. Am I surprised by the deal former Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. received to sign with the Detroit Lions? Not really. Chark reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth about $10 million. He has potential to be a front-line NFL wide receiver, but he hadn't been overly productive for various reasons since a Pro Bowl appearance following the 2019 season. He's essentially gambling on himself to earn a bigger, longer-term contract next offseason. That's a smart gamble on Chark's part, one that easily could pay big.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, Hope for the Jags future! I like the players they will sign in free agency. Looks to me (and of course you and I to a lesser extent are always right) that defensive end and wide receiver are the most critical positions for the Jags to focus on in the draft. Backups for the offensive line and defensive line will be needed as well. What do you think?

I think I would be a little surprised if the Jaguars don't select defensive end No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft and wide receiver No. 33 overall. I would be a little surprised if interior offensive line isn't also selected somewhere comparatively early. I've been surprised before. We'll see.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

After free agency and seeing the decision-makers' moves, has your hunch on Day 1 of the draft changed at all?


Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

We couldn't get a sixth-round pick for Jack? That guy doesn't go down.

The Jaguars quite likely could have received a sixth-round selection for linebacker Myles Jack had there been a trade only involving Jack, who instead was released on Tuesday. But you trade for a player's contract in the NFL, and Jack's contract had two years remaining at a very high salary. A team signing Jack as a free agent can negotiate his salary before signing him; a team trading for a player inherits the contract. That makes trades for players midway through contracts tricky.

Chris from Roseville, CA

Are the Jaguars trying to lose whatever fans they have left by releasing Jack and losing Chark to a one-year, $10 million deal?


John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

How much of an upgrade will Scherff be over Norwell?

The Jaguars have agreed to terms to sign offensive guard Brandon Scherff as an unrestricted free agent, and four-year Jaguars starting guard Andrew Norwell became an unrestricted free agent Wednesday. Scherff has made five Pro Bowls with a first-team All-Pro selection in seven seasons with Washington. Norwell never has made the Pro Bowl and was a first-team All-Pro selection once – with the Carolina Panthers in 2017, the season before he joined the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent. Scherff by that measure and others should be a significant upgrade.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, is a day like Monday chaotic or did all the hard work already take place before free agency began?


Jon from Brentwood, UK

So, Zone. What, if anything, does the new Scherff in town tell us about how the Jaguars' brass see the potential options for the No 1 Draft pick?

Acquiring Scherff tells us the Jaguars really wanted to improve the interior of the offensive line. I don't know that it says all that much about how the Jaguars might use the No. 1 overall selection in the draft.

Tom from Shanghai, China

One year, $10 million to play for the Lions? Either DJ really wanted to leave or General Manager Trent Baalke really didn't want him.


Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey John, you always say you have to build through the draft, which makes sense. But is this concept still the best? It seems a lot of teams are like: Find the right quarterback and get the other star players through free agency or trades. And it worked for the Los Angeles Rams or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Will we see more of that in the future?

I expect you will see teams lean that way in the future – and I expect a few teams may lean further than others. But the draft remains – and will remain – the foundation for building in the NFL. Few people believe the Rams would have won the Super Bowl in January without having drafted defensive tackle Aaron Donald and wide receiver Cooper Kupp. And while acquiring quarterback Tom Brady was key to the Buccaneers' Super Bowl victory following the 2020 season, they had drafted well and built a formidable roster that enabled them to add Brady and succeed. Remember: While you can add pieces through free agency and trades, teams still want to keep their own elite players – which means it will be hard to build a roster full of "foundation" players who have played with other teams.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, after the first flurry of free-agent signings along with the loss of players such as Chark and Jack, what is your opinion on whether the team is actually better?

There's little doubt that a healthy duo of Chark and Jack is a good duo and I can't argue the Jaguars wouldn't be better with them on the team than they are without. But the Jaguars had to make decisions about where to allocate resources, and most of the moves this week appear sound and necessary considering the state of the roster entering the offseason. But yes … the Jaguars appear to be better at receiver with the addition of Kirk and Zay Jones and they appear to be better up the middle of the defense with the addition of linebacker Foye Oluokun and defensive tackle Foley Fatusaki. They also appear better at cornerback with the addition of Darious Williams – and they appear better on the interior offensive line with the addition of Scherff.

Micah from Chicago, IL

That's a lot of money for a slot corner. Are we sure they aren't planning to move on from Shaquill Griffin?

A few thoughts here. One is that Griffin is good and there's no reason for a different direction. Another is that his salary-cap figure and dead-salary-cap number is too high for '22 for the Jaguars to consider such a move anyway. Finally: While Williams' contract indeed is lucrative, slot corner is essentially a starter in the NFL. Teams play three wide receivers at least 65 percent of offensive plays. Be thrifty, inexperienced and undermanned there at your peril.

Jon from Brentwood, UK

Myles Jack released?! What is going on? Who do they think they have that is better than No. 44?


Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

I'm sure many people are writing in saying the Jaguars knocked it out of the park this week. I'm sure many are saying that overpaid by way too much and/or didn't get the money right players. What if I told you the answer is somewhere in the middle, and we probably won't even know one way or another for six-to-nine more months?

I would say you have a good perspective on how free agency and the NFL work. I would also tell you in an age of instant gratification, most people don't want to hear good perspectives – particularly if they involve patience and long-range thought.

Cameron from Jacksonville

I love the aggressive approach to free agency and there's no doubt that we have improved, but the wide receiver room almost feels crowded and we haven't even gotten to the draft.

It's actually not crowded at all. There are four receivers on the roster with extensive NFL experience: Marvin Jones Jr., Kirk, Laviska Shenault Jr. and Zay Jones. That's a heavy dose of Jones and Juniors but there's still room for an early-drafted rookie.

Howard from Homestead, FL

I just read the Monday and Tuesday O-Zone's back-to-back. You sure these questions are from the same fan base?

Fans gonna fan. It's what they do.