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O-Zone: Don't mess with him

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

It seems the theme for the Jags being touted right now is "draft and develop." That's a super cool idea when it works. The fact is the Jags have failed miserably at that the majority of the franchise's history. While only time will tell, other than having TL, what makes anyone believe we can be successful drafting and developing in the coming years?

Your questions suggest a team can't improve on something it hasn't done well in the past. If that were true, franchises never would improve and all things NFL always would remain the same. That's not how the NFL works. Heck, it's not how life works. The Jaguars never had a young, franchise quarterback before – and now they have quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They never had rallied from 27 points behind to win a playoff game. They did that this past season. Those things don't guarantee future success, but future failure also isn't a given just because the team failed at times in the past. There's another reason draft and develop is the theme this offseason. The Jaguars are looking directly into a future in which the salary cap will be built around Lawrence's contract. That contract figures to dominate the cap like no other contract in franchise history. When your roster is built that way, you can't afford to build much through in free agency. Draft and develop in that scenario is the only theme that makes sense.

Al from Orange Park

How was Arden Key disrespected? The Jags didn't throw enough $$$$ at him?

Key, an outside linebacker for the Jaguars in 2022 who signed with the Tennessee Titans as an unrestricted free agent last week, indeed made some remarks Monday during his initial Titans media availability about feeling disrespected that the Jaguars didn't re-sign him. I don't know why Key felt disrespected. He didn't get into specifics. But that's OK. And it's OK that he's a little upset with the Jaguars. And it will be OK if he says a few things when the teams play next season. It will add to the back and forth between the teams. It will add to the rivalry. It will be fun, and that's what all this is about, right?

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

I think many are missing just how large Trevor's contract is going to be next year. Maybe because the Jaguars have never had a contract that big. With all the weapons he has in Head Coach Doug Pederson's pass-friendly offense, Trevor likely will have a big statistical year and who knows what happens in the playoffs. I know they can push money around, but a significant percent of the Jaguars salary cap is going to be just his contract. The Jaguars must be careful from here forward to limit the amount of dead cap they have on the books and rely on players they draft to develop and to have the ability to re-sign those players. There are a number of drafted players that will need to be signed next offseason. If they go singing a bunch of free agents now, they risk dead cap and not being able to build a team around Lawrence. I remember when the Pittsburgh Steelers' front office would all take vacations around the start of the league year. The Jaguars want to be in such a position.

Good eye.

_Brian from Round Rock, Texas        _

For those freaking out, we have the talent to win it all right now. The only thing standing in our way is the development of our QB. If he progresses the way we hope, we can win it all. Just like last year... right?

The Jaguars have the talent to make the postseason, which means they have a chance to win the Super Bowl if circumstance break right in the playoffs. There are multiple ways the Jaguars can greatly improve those chances. One absolutely is the development of Lawrence, who must become more consistent. Another is the Jaguars' offense improving in a second season in Pederson's system, something that will depend on not only Lawrence's development but that of a talented returning core of skill players. Still another is the development of young – and potential core – players on defense such as linebackers Travon Walker, Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma. Those three storylines are key for the Jaguars in 2023 and will help determine their chances of winning the Super Bowl.

Esteef from AB

What is the chance that a cornerback drafted at No. 24 could start this year for the Jags?


Do you think the rising quarterback deals are eventually going to stop? It seems these salaries are getting so high that it is making it hard to keep other key players as appears to be the case with the Jags trying to prepare for Trevor Lawrence new contract. One reason Tom Brady was so successful in New England was that he took less than he could have to provide cap room for the players the team needed to win. If a quarterback won't do this today, it seems very hard to keep the players needed around him. I realize the current trend is to an elite quarterback as the league is so pass-oriented, but do you think some teams may try to go "cheaper" on the quarterback and use the extra cap space to make their overall team stronger? For example, a team with a strong pass rush and cornerbacks could neutralize an elite quarterback without a strong offensive line and then have a run-oriented offense.

I think teams are going to have to be more and more careful about which quarterbacks get mega contracts because they can indeed cripple your salary cap. But I think the Kansas City Chiefs just won the Super Bowl with quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the mega-est quarterback contract of all. If a quarterback is Mahomes' level of good, he's worth the contract. And teams will pay it. And no … I don't believe the top quarterback contracts will stop rising.

Chris from Mandarin

Arden Key was never going to be one of the Jaguars' full-time pass rushers and was always meant to be a rotational player. With that, I just can't figure out why people are up in arms about not re-signing a player that contributed 4.5 sacks in 17 games. Sometimes people project their worries in the wrong place, I guess…

I guess.

MDavid from Riverside

What's the status of Jamal Agnew?

Agnew is a wide receiver/returner entering his seventh NFL season. He has a season remaining on a three-year contract he signed with the Jaguars before the 2021 season.

KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF. I've got to say it is such a sigh of relief not overpaying in free agency this year. I think my biggest questions so far will be if we will re-sign defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot. I remember how well Sen'Derrick Marks played, he got injured, then he was gone. I guess it's just business, but I'm afraid if the same will happen with Smoot. Looking at this draft, I get the feeling that this is the most important draft for this team as we do not have the luxury of high draft picks like years past. I think we'll find out how much it's coaching. What do you think?

It's hard to project Smoot's future. He sustained a torn Achilles in December, and that's a difficult injury from which to return – particularly deep in a career. As for the 2023 NFL Draft … it's very important because all drafts are very important. I expect it will be important at a position or two for the Jaguars in 2023, but far more important in the long-term than for the season immediately following the draft. Like pretty much all NFL drafts.

Karter from Monterey

I like the approach this off season. I believe there is an expectation that our own will improve so we don't need a flashy free agent. Plus, keep some later years available for the - I assume - mega-deal that Trever will command.

Good eye.

Dave from Grafton, VA

Let's not forget Harold Carmichael in the best of Duval discussion!

Yes. Absolutely. This email references a recent discussion about the best players every from Jacksonville/Duval County. I agreed with a reader that former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Bob Hayes (Gilbert High School) was the best, and that former Philadelphia Eagles/Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins (Raines) and former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler (Lee) belonged in the discussion because of their status as Pro Football Hall of Famers. But Carmichael, who also played at Raines, also is in the Hall of Fame. And he absolutely belongs in the discussion. Bad on me for not mentioning him earlier.

Woofie from Louisville

Regarding your answers to the hopes for prime-time games for this coming season, there should be good matchups for the Jags to get great exposure and airtime. I swear on my favorite holy Jaguars Slippers I'll start burning things in effigy.

Woofie weady to wumble.