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O-Zone: Closet case

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Why does no one have us taking defensive tackle at No. 17? Don't we need to get better there?

Good eye – and while multiple analysts have projected defensive tackle to the Jaguars at No. 17 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft, you're right that this overall seems to be a somewhat overlooked need area for the Jaguars this offseason. The Jaguars finished the 2023 season struggling against the run after being one of the NFL's better run defenses throughout the first three months of the season. A defensive interior thought to be something of a strength entering the season somewhat inexplicably was at best inconsistent late in the season. Nose tackle DaVon Hamilton, who played well enough in 2022 to earn a long-term contract extension, missed much of the season with a back issue and never played to his potential. Veteran lineman Roy Robertson-Harris wasn't as disruptive in 2023 as he had been in 2022 while also earning an extension. Defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi for a second consecutive season since signing as an unrestricted free agent was injured much of the season. All three players remain under contract, and the contracts of Hamilton and Robertson-Harris indicate they will be here in 2024. Fatukasi's salary cap would allow his release, but the Jaguars save just $3 million in cap space with such a move. It would be a little surprising if the Jaguars committed big free-agent money here this offseason. Perhaps addressing it early in the draft would help solidify an area that wasn't as good in 2023 as it was in 2022 – and which must be better in 2024.

David from Jacksonville

I'm a little irked, Zone, and confused. The Kansas City Chiefs have won three Super Bows and suddenly they're a dynasty? Don't they have to do more? And by the way, now Mahomes is the GOAT? I thought Brady was the GOAT.

I'm sorry you're irked. Being irked can be … well, irksome. And while being confused can cause confusion – which can be damned confusing – being somewhat flummoxed about dynasties and greatests of all time is understandable. We as a sports-discussing public need topics, and people analyzing such things simply must have not takes and make declarations. The process often goes something like this: A producer puts a graphic up on a screen, and two people the public sort of can identify argue vehemently about that graphic. If, for example, that graphic asks if the Chiefs are the best and most dynastic team of all time … well, if that's the case one of those televised people is certainly going argue loudly that the Chiefs by golly are indeed the greatest team of all time. Whether that full-throated, wild-eyed television person has researched or believes this is irrelevant. It's quite possible said person hasn't even thought about it that much. But that person has voiced an opinion, declaring the Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes dynastic and goaty and a whole lot more dynastic and goatier than the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. For now. Until the next team and quarterback win two Super Bowls. And then the producer must make another graphic. And then the yelling shall begin anew.

Mike from Jax

Hey, Johnny O. How likely do you believe the Jags can sign outside linebacker Josh Allen to a long-term deal so they can use the tag on wide receiver Calvin Ridley?

Hey, Mikey J. Fifty-fifty. Ish.

Tom from Charlottesville

John: I know how to make all the naysayers happy!! Trade everyone on the team now and get the first 52 picks in the draft, including all the quarterbacks. Forget about defense and let the other team score on every play. The offense with five quarterbacks on the field at one time will be able to throw the ball anywhere and score at will. It would be like the NBA All-Star game. Imagine the Jags scoring 200 points in a game!

This is a fine effort, Tom, though I regret to inform you that wouldn't make the naysayers happy. Those who say nay – unlike those who say yay – tend to say nay no matter the topic.

Joe from Jacksonville

O-Zone, about the kicker position. It's looking less likely to see Brandon McManus as a Jaguar next season, added to that they've resigned Riley Patterson. Is Riley our kicker next season, with whatever kind of contract he signed? Or, do you think this is a position to address with a drafted or not rookie?

I don't know that we currently know very much for certain at all about the Jaguars' kicker situation next season.

John from Jacksonville

Hi, KOAGF - I can't reconcile Rat Dog not being a male. I was surprised Rat is a she. I've got some contemplating to do.

If you think you were surprised, imagine her reaction.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

If not Allen or Ridley, on whom would we place the franchise tag this year?

I doubt the Jaguars' franchise tag would be used this offseason on a player aside from Allen and Ridley. All teams don't use the tag every offseason.

Steve from Jax Beach

It was recently announced the cap is going up $30 million. How does this affect signing Allen and Ridley? Is having more to spend make it easier or do players demands go up knowing there's more cash on the open market?

The NFL salary cap indeed increased $30 million, from $224.8 in 2023 to $255.4 in 2024. That increase means the Jaguars now have about $30 million in cap space, according to Spotrac. The cap in theory will make it easier to keep players such as Allen and Ridley. At the same time, decisions still must be made about how best to allocate money and cap space in the short- and long-term. There's another side of this, as one NFC executive told Yahoo Sports. That's that the overall impact on individual teams "is pretty neutralized by everybody receiving the same bump." When every NFL team has more money to spend, every NFL team will spend more money. Good for the players.

Fred from Naples

I understand that if the Jaguars sign Ridley to an extension before free agency begins on March 13 then they would owe the Falcons a second-round draft choice. However, what if they allow him to get into free agency after March 13 and then sign him? Would they owe the Falcons a second- or third-rounder?

A third-rounder.

Shawn from Moore County, NC

At first I was really excited at how much the salary cap was increased because it's better to try to re-sign Allen, sign Ridley to a new contract and still have money for free agency. Then I realized the Kansas City chiefs can probably keep defensive tackle Chris Jones now and other elite teams keep their guys. My question is do you think this massive increase will create even a bigger gap for the top teams?

I think the salary cap increase will allow some teams that had been over the cap entering a lot of recent offseasons – and operating very near the cap at the start of league years – to get their cap cleaner. I doubt it will have much noticeable effect on the competitive balance of the league.

David from the Island

Do you think if we were playing poker, Don would always be all in?


Jake from Cary, NC

Interesting comparison Nathan made between Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Detroit Lions Jared Goff. If you could have one of the two as your quarterback next season, which would you take? (Putting aside longer-term potential)

I confess I don't compare Jaguars players to other players around the NFL all that well. This is because I watch every play of every game and ask specific questions about Jaguars players whereas I might watch two or three games a season of another player. Based on my limited knowledge of Goff, it would be basically flipping a coin for me between the two. Goff has turned in two consecutive solid, productive seasons. Entering his ninth season, he is in the prime of his career and has emerged nicely through the early-career learning curve that Lawrence is navigating. Goff also has been relatively healthy in recent seasons, whereas Lawrence played through injuries. I would go with Lawrence here because I expect next season he will play more as he did late in the 2022 season and early in the 2023 season than he did when he was playing through injuries late in the 2023 season. I also expect him to reduce the turnovers that defined his 2023 season. If he doesn't do that …

Jay from So-Cal

I just pulled up the new article on coaching additions and read it initially as "coaching auditions." O-Man, that would be sweet. I think an assistant to the assistant defense assistant position would be mine. I could get you a small office with running water and supplies – aka, janitor's closet. Don't thank me.

Don't worry.