O-Zone: Dance, dance, dance

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Kannan from Tucker

I've yet to see a player hold out and not get injured that season. Even Khalil Mack from Chicago was injured a few games last year. My question, do players understand and/or look at these odds when they make these bold stances? I remember holding out pretty much ended former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew's run as an elite running back due to the injury he suffered that same year. I'd hate to see that happen to a certain defensive end trying to enter his prime.

I have seen no statistics to support your theory, but experience – and logic – says you’re right that players who hold out tend to get injured more than those who don’t. And no, players don’t take those odds into account; such factors give way to business in this case. Other factors could play in here, including the fact that NFL players have a high injury risk regardless of whether they hold out – and that many players who hold out are five-to-six years into their careers and therefore reaching an age where injuries occur more frequently. So, yes … if Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue indeed holds out then this will be worth watching. But we’re not at that point yet – and while I suppose Ngakoue not being at minicamp technically is a holdout, he’s not doing anything yet that’s remotely hurting his preparation for next season. If he misses time in training camp, that will change. Not before.

John from Ponte Vedra, FL

Outside of the Telvin Smith situation, would you characterize the other contract posturing as typical of a team that is drafting and developing well - with a few over-priced free agents in the mix? It’s been a while since the Jags were in this position. These are “good” problems - yes?

Yes.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

What's the difference between minicamp, OTAS, and training camp?

Minicamp and organized team activities are held in the offseason – and therefore under NFL rules are exclusively non-padded, non-contact work. Training camp is in July and August – and padded, contact work is permitted during many of the practices. There essentially is no difference between OTAs and minicamps except that minicamps are mandatory and OTAs are voluntary.

Thomas from Williamsburg

So, the Jaguars are all of a sudden in a salary-cap predicament with Ngakoue? I thought for the past few years the Jags have been planning their finances so they would be able to sign their homegrown players when it came time to do so. So, did they not have a plan all along?

Yes, the Jaguars have had a plan to sign their homegrown players when it came time to do so. That plan does not mean they automatically immediately give every home-grown player whatever that homegrown player decides to demand. These things take time. They’re rarely easy.

Fred from Naples, FL

What is the likelihood we have cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Myles Jack and Yannick on the team together two years from now?

Seventy percent on up.

Bill from Jacksonville

John, why does the NFL seem to be the only league where players are paid based on being “next in line” instead of their actual standing in the league? No quarterback should make more than Aaron Rodgers. No defensive lineman should make more than Aaron Donald. Paying players this way greatly contributes to holdouts. Thanks! Go Jags!

I don’t cover other leagues enough to speak accurately about what goes into their contract dynamics. This phenomenon exists in the NFL because teams aren’t concerned about keeping salaries in line when signing players, and they’re under enough pressure to acquire good players that they’ll something pay just “good” players like they are great players. Hence, the prices go up. And up. And up.

Mac from Jacksonville

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone's getting too soft on the players. What's this business about canceling the last OTA? I'm getting back flashbacks of the Gus Bradley era. The reports in 2017 highlighted how Marrone was an old-school guy and wanted a difficult offseason. Why not try to recreate what worked then? I had a little league coach who berated us like a drill sergeant, but we also mercy ruled every team we played in the fourth inning. This isn't a popularity contest, this is about winning.

People who believe canceling an non-padded OTA practice in June has anything to do with what happens in an NFL regular season have never watched an OTA practice – and they therefore have no idea the true nature of an OTA practice. The reports in 2017 about Marrone being old-school and creating a difficult working environment were about training camp – not OTAs. You’re not going soft by canceling one OTA practices. Heck, cancel four or five and it wouldn’t hurt much. Marrone will get tougher during training camp when pads go on.

Sean from Jacksonville

Haha

Shut up.

Robert from Moorpark, CA

I know we're not even at training camp yet, but the receiver position looks very interesting with new a new year, faces and a new quarterback. Which receiver do you believe becomes the primary target and which one do you expect to have a breakout season? Thanks.

I expect Dede Westbrook to begin the season as a primary target, and I expect Chris Conley – because of his early chemistry with quarterback Nick Foles – to also be a primary early target. The player to watch here is second-year veteran DJ Chark Jr., who has shown signs of improvement this offseason. The Jaguars need him to be a breakout player.

Tim from Olin

Hello Mr. O, I was just reading an article in Bleacher Report that talked about the most overpaid players on each team. What I found interesting was wide receiver Allen Hurns, wide receiver Allen Robinson and running back Carlos Hyde – all former Jaguars – were all listed. It was not too long ago that fans were taking issue to the Jags’ front office letting Hurns and Robinson go. The player listed for the Jaguars was Leonard Fournette, who is still under his rookie contract. Seems to me like the front office MAY know what it is doing and MAYBE we should let the grownups talk and work things out. I do have a suggestion, though: Have you (Mr. O-man) thought about being a team player and restructuring your contract to free up a little cap room? What is your cap hit?

I did restructure cap space. Thank me for the free popcorn in the breakroom later that day.

TD from Festus, MO

John, OK so if Jalen gets his money and Yann does also ... will there be money available to keep enough talent around them going forward? And are those the two horses this franchise wants to harness it's hopes to? Would you? I have concerns, myself.

Yes, there will be enough money moving forward to retain those two and be good around them. – and I believe the Jaguars and those players will get that done eventually. The Jaguars may have to part ways with some older veterans, and they will have to draft well. But the last part is really the key: If you’re going to be competitive long-term, you must draft well. And have a quarterback. All else follows.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, will you let Shad Khan know that I think you should get a new extraordinarily large contract? Also, please let him know I would like a cut, given it was my idea.

I told him. I took his chortling as a good sign.

Daniel from Urbandale, IA

When a player still has one-to-two years on their existing contract and they negotiate a new deal with the team, does that new contract immediately replace their existing contract or does it go into effect after their current one ends? Second question: Can a team offer a player additional money just to show up to finish their year under their current contract? I.e. if a player says they're going to sit their final year, can a team say, "Well we're not going to give a big long-term deal, but we'll play you an extra XX to actively finish out your current contract." Just curious.

Contracts essentially work however those negotiating want them to work, and that’s essentially true in the NFL so long as it’s not a “rookie” contract and so long as the base salary is worth the minimum allowed for the player’s length of service. Most often a new contract replaces the old contract. As for giving a player money to show up for one year, teams could definitely do that, but players are typically holding out with the idea of securing life-changing money with a long-term contract. Signing a short-term deal for one year isn’t the objective.

Dave from Dallas, TX

Hey Mr. O: “… dances on your taste buds like a lithe ballerina, etc.” I was wrong. You are a literary genius.

Yes.

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