O-Zone: Busy beaver

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Marc from the Southside

Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash talked in the spring about how he'd like to see interchangeable safeties with the ability to disguise coverage. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone echoed that somewhat recently and talked up Ronnie Harrison’s and Jarrod Wilson's versatility. Good chance we see this actually happen? Or do you feel strongly that one or the other will be predominately free safety and the strong safety?

It’s tricky projecting how new players will be used in the regular season; that’s even true when coaches discuss plans in advance – because coaches tend not to reveal every detail of plans. But Marrone and Wash in this case both have discussed the versatility of both players, and Harrison told me Sunday after practice that he believes that versatility is a major strength for the safety combination of he and Wilson. So, at this point there’s no reason to think the duo won’t play relatively similar roles at safety this season. We’ll see.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

There's a good chance the entire front office and coaching staff is fired after this year if the Jags do not do well. The Jags are far more likely to do well with an elite young pass-rusher on the field. Great players always have some leverage.

Great NFL players always have leverage because there always is pressure to win.

Mario from Zapata

O-Man: I am at the FLETC Academy in Brunswick, Georgia. I want to go to the Jags’ night scrimmage. Can you tell us the date for that?

The Jaguars are not having a “night” scrimmage during 2019 Training Camp. They are scheduled to practice Monday through Thursday this week with all practices scheduled to begin at 8:40 a.m. Those four practices are open to the public, with practices closed after that.

Jack from St. Augustine, FL

Referring to the retirement of Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, what prevents a player from signing a large and immediate guarantee of $25 million, then retiring to avoid long-term health issues and living well from just signing a contract?

An NFL contract is contingent on the player playing. Salary – even guaranteed salary – would be voided by not playing, and the team has a contractual right to pursue money paid in the signing bonus.

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, can Smith's planned 2019 salary be used to pay/sign other players? Go Jags!!

Theoretically, yes – but it really doesn’t work that way for a couple of reasons. First, in the case of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, the Jaguars must structure a contract that works over the course of at least two seasons to make Ngakoue work under the salary cap; so, there’s more to it than just taking Smith’s $9 million cap hit and “giving” it to Ngakoue. The Jaguars also must be mindful that Smith theoretically could decide sometime to play this season. If that happens, they would have to either cut him or take him onto their active roster; if the latter were to happen, they would need his cap space this season.

Tim from St. Augustine, FL

Can we get back to worrying about whether running back Leonard Fournette will grow up a bit this season instead of cornerback Jalen Ramsey showing up in an armored truck or calling a quarterback trash?

I suppose.

Josh from Jacksonville

O-Zone, I'm sure this has probably been asked but what do you think are the chances of Ngakoue, Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack all signing second contracts with the Jags?

I think the chances are significantly over 50 percent, though not 100 percent. I also think negotiations won’t be easy and won’t come as quickly as the team, players or fans might like.

Travis from High Springs, FL

You stated recently that players prefer longer-term deals because they offer more security. But if the guaranteed money is the same, couldn't they still be cut and only receive the guaranteed amount? Do players receive their guaranteed money plus extra money for every year they're with the team – or is the guaranteed money just divided by number of years on the contract?

The guaranteed money in an NFL contract is the bonus plus whatever parts of the yearly salaries are designated as guaranteed. There once was a time when the bonus money usually was the only guarantee, but teams guarantee parts of salaries more often these days.

Greg from Asheville, NC

Just curious if the same people who are complaining about Jalen's harmless theatrics are the same ones that complained that the Jaguars didn't get enough recognition a few years ago ...

I’ll google this.

David from Chuluota, FL

King O’ All Funk: In the early years of Jaguars football, when Tom Coughlin was the head coach, were there rules to limit practices? I seem to recall players complaining that Coughlin was trying to kill them. Do you have any memories of old-school practices and how they compare to practices of today? When did the new practice rules go into effect? It seems reasonable to think that if those intense practices were limited, back in the day, those teams wouldn’t have come together so quickly and the golden age of Jaguars football may never have come to fruition. Thoughts?

The earliest days of the Jaguars were 25 years ago. It was a different time with two-a-day practices and fewer league-imposed restrictions on when camp could begin, how often teams could work in pads and how many hours they could be on the field. Players complained often about Coughlin in the early days, and today’s training camps are easy compared to that era. But while Coughlin’s difficult training camps helped shape the Golden Age of Jaguars football, what shaped it more was a mind-blowing array of talent including three Hall-of-Fame level players – left-tackle Tony Boselli, running back Fred Taylor and wide receiver Jimmy Smith – along with a strong cast of Pro Bowl level players such as defensive end Tony Brackens, linebacker Kevin Hardy, offensive tackle Leon Searcy, wide receiver Keenan McCardell, defensive tackle Gary Walker and so on. With talent like that, it’s unsurprising the team made two AFC Championship Games with four consecutive playoff appearances.

Dave from Duuval

Hey JohnnyO: I saw the video clip from training camp where Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone turns to rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew and asks him “what movie is this from?” And Minshew jamming out in the sidelines to the tune answers promptly “Hangover!” I’m feeling a vibe man ... can you feel it?

Sure.

Seamus from Vancouver, BC

I was a little unsettled by your last sentence to Eric From Jacksonville: "Now, are they going to automatically pay him $20 million a season – top-of-the-market pass-rusher money – when they still have a year remaining on his contract and control of his rights after that? That’s a different topic." That, combined with the short-term contract reportedly offered, sounds like they don't want to pay him what his stats suggest he is worth – and plan to suppress a fair, long-term payday – just because they have the right to. This contract matter with Ngakoue is WAY easier than they are making it. I'm getting a bit annoyed and disappointed in the organization for this.

I’m sorry you’re annoyed, but it’s not an easy situation – and I’ve been saying and writing for several months that it’s not an easy situation. If it were easy, the contract would be done already. If Ngakoue was a prototype end and a perennial All-Pro player I imagine it would be done already. He has been very good and productive, but not only hasn’t he been one of the best three or four players at his position, he hasn’t been the best lineman on the team during his career. That’s not a knock on Ngakoue. It’s not saying he shouldn’t be paid well. But it does perhaps explain why the Jaguars don’t simply back up the armored truck and give Ngakoue a top-of-the-market deal. The Jaguars want to be fair. They want to be smart. They know Ngakoue deserves a raise. That doesn’t mean they necessarily automatically pay him what he’s demanding.

Patrick from Jacksonville

Ngakoue's holdout will last over/under a half-game?

Under. I don’t expect Ngakoue’s holdout to last into the regular season because he must report to training camp by early August to accrue a season toward free agency. If he doesn’t do that, he won’t be able to become an unrestricted free agent following the season. Because of that, I can’t imagine him not reporting by that deadline.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Z: Why is Gene Frenette not a Hall of Fame voter?

Sam Kouvaris, formerly of WJXT-4, has been the Jacksonville Hall of Fame voter since 1995. Markets typically have one representative in Pro Football Hall of Fame voting, and Kouvaris is it for Jacksonville. Besides, longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette has stuff going on. We needn’t add more to that plate.

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