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O-Zone: Emotional mess

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Jacksonville:
Oh, Great O … can you get an underling to post updates? I read online about the Jags' movements, and see nothing here. I would like my news to come from my people.
John: That indeed would be awesome, and we at would love nothing more than to provide instant updates on every nuance of the NFL offseason. I've explained the reason for our approach more than once, but it's worth explaining again. League rules restrict what team websites report during free agency, and the Jaguars' policy is to announce signings once players officially sign. The key concept here is "official." That means while other sites can report on negotiations and players agreeing to terms, this site does not. We can discuss possibilities here in the O-Zone, but in terms of officially reporting the signings, we must wait. It's not ideal from an information standpoint, but it's necessary from a football standpoint. As for signings becoming official, if you're reading this early Thursday you won't have to wait much longer. Unofficially, I can say that.
Kevin from Orange Park, FL:
Are the Jaguars really better this morning?
John: I don't think there's any question the Jaguars will have improved themselves when the ink is dry Thursday morning. As I wrote often in the days/weeks leading to free agency, if you thought the Jaguars were going to acquire every free agent at the top of every fan's wish list – or even every free agent at the top of our your own, personal wish list – you were going to be unhappy. That wasn't possible and it was never the Jaguars' plan. But if reports are correct they absolutely acquired two players – defensive lineman Malik Jackson and safety Tashaun Gipson – who represent upgrades in talent on defense. If you combine that with the return of Dante Fowler Jr. and Sen'Derrick Marks, that's four front-line additions over what was going on late last season. That's a defensive talent boost, and that was the Jaguars' big objective in free agency.
Mark from College Park, MD:
We can speculate all offseason on who maybe might be a potential free-agent acquisition/ draft picks, but O-Man … for the Jags to be successful next year and for Coach Gus to return __ needs to happen first and foremost.
John: Winning.
Tommy from Pensacola, FL:
I like Chris Ivory as a complement to T.J Yeldon. But history tells us backs begin to decline around 28. Ivory isn't the bell-cow back, and the farm wasn't mortgaged to sign him, but should this be a concern?
John: Age always is a concern for a running back, but it's not as if Ivory needs to play four or five years in Jacksonville for the Jaguars for the signing to be productive. He'll be 28 next season and 29 the following season. If he is productive in those two seasons, the Jaguars will take it.
Rich from Chicago, IL:
Ivory? IVORY? He's 33 years old. What kind of thing was this? I understand that Gerhardt was a big disappointment, but IVORY. I sure hope there is an out to that contract.
John: Ivory is 27 years old.
Brandon from Atlanta, GA:
Rumor has it we will have a former Denver lineman join the Jaguars. I am assuming his role will be similar to Tyson Alualu or Jared Odrick. Can you project where the Jaguars will use him on the line?
John: I assume you're speaking of Jackson, who played defensive end in a 3-4 scheme in Denver and could play either strong-side end or defensive tackle in the Jaguars' scheme. I would envision Jackson possibly playing strong-side end on first downs in some personnel groupings and three-technique tackle in other schemes. He potentially could move to the nose in second and third downs. We have to rethink a little the former roles along the Jaguars' front seven. It doesn't appear they're going to be as easy to "cookie-cutter" define anymore.
Neil from Gloucester, UK:
This tag thing is proper confusing: this tag, that tag … It seems the teams with consistently the best records year-in year-out don't seem to get involved in this overpaying tag fest? Or is it me? I don't know?
John: The tag thing indeed is a little confusing, and I've written about it enough in recent weeks that I don't feel like going into the details now. Suffice to say the exclusive franchise tag prevents a player from hitting free agency, the regular franchise tag really restricts movement and the transition tag restricts movement less than the franchise tags. Your over-arching point is correct, though – that the teams that are good year-in and year-out typically avoid high-priced free agency as much as possible. Ideally, the Jaguars will get to the point that they can draft, develop and maintain their core without expensive forays into the free agent market. They're not there yet, so they're trying to supplement their roster until that time comes.
Sean from Arlington, VA:
Sen'Derrick Marks is the rare example of free agency working out well for the player and the team. What lessons can we take away from that heading into this year's frenzy? Do you see another Marks in this year's class?
John: No. The Marks signing worked because it was the right player, right team, right circumstance, right time. He signed a one-year-prove-it-to-me deal in 2013 and he indeed proved it that season. The players the Jaguars are pursuing in free agency this offseason are much more high-profile and in higher demand than Marks was in 2013; such high-demand players are not going to sign for prove-it-to-me deals. They have proven their worth and expect to get paid as such. And they will.
Shaun from Nashville, TN:
I know the Jaguars needed another back to pair with Yeldon, but $6 million a year for Ivory? That is starter money. Don't you think that money would have been better spent on offensive line or another defender? We could have drafted a back or got a second-tier guy if Yeldon truly is the starter.
John: Spending money on one position does not preclude the Jaguars from spending on another during this free-agency period.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Every year Twitter explains to me that Dave Caldwell is reckless and overpays for free agents. Immediately after that those same people mention that the Jags have more cap space than anyone in the league. Forgive me if I'm just not that interested in holding up the Gerhart (or Clemons/Bryant) contract as an example of Caldwell being bad at his job. He clearly knows what he's doing. I'm good to sit back and let a man who clearly knows more than me be great at his job.
John: "YOU HAVE CAP SPACE!!!! SPEND, SPEND, SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!!!!!! WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOU SPEND IT ON, JUST … SPE-E-E-E-E-ND!!!!!!!!" (Jaguars spend money on free agents). "What the $$#&* are you doing?"
Kyle from Ohio:
About this tampering period: So, basically players can agree to deals, but they can't officially sign the contract. Could a team see the leaked numbers of a contract and say, "I could beat that deal?" Since the player can't officially sign the contract, couldn't a team step in and offer a better deal if they really want him?
John: Yes, though that would be very rare. If a team were interested in a free agent, that team presumably would have been in on discussions with the player's agent from the start of the process. The agent would have presumably discussed all terms with all teams interested before the player agreed to the contract, so any team interested would already have known the terms of the deal before any "leak."
Adam from Section 124:
Do general managers have some kind of secret way they can use to talk to other general managers en masse? Like a protected online forum? For example, if David Caldwell wanted to let others know that Player X could be available in a trade, can he put that message in any (hopefully secure and private) forum for the other general managers to see? Or would he have to get on the phone and make 31 calls to the other 31 GMs in the league?
John: The phrase "working the phone" still applies in this case.
John from Jacksonville:
John, it seems in the NFL the label "starter" doesn't mean what it means in college and doesn't mean what it used to mean in the NFL. The players on the field for the first play depend on what offensive play or defense the coaches have called for the first play. So, in evaluating players, does the number of starts matter or do coaches look at the number of plays?
John: Number of plays probably matters a bit more than number of starts. What matters most is the role the player plays. Too often when people analyze rosters they think in terms of 11 starters and a simple depth chart. That doesn't work. Teams need 15 or 16 good players on either side of the ball – and that's particularly true on defense.
Jacob from Westchester:
John, when was the last time you were this happy? I know me and my fellow fans have not been this happy in a while. The rebuild is finally over.
John: When did I say I was happy?

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