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O-Zone: Facts are stubborn things

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

KC from Miami, FL

Let's say the Jaguars draft a left tackle in the first round. Obviously, that player would be a starter there. But who moves where as far as the rest of the line? In that case, does left tackle Cam Robinson move to left guard? Then what happens to left guard Andrew Norwell? Is he cut, or does he or another player move to right guard?

Offensive line is perhaps the trickiest issue of the Jaguars' 2020 offseason. My sense is the Jaguars must – and will – do address the area, but there's no clear easy fix. And there's no really player(s) who stood out as absolutely playing so poorly that the team has no choice but to replace him. For every observer who believes a player such as Norwell or Robinson need to be moved or replaced, there's an argument that the player in question is a perfectly adequate NFL starter. Those questions will at least in part shape the Jaguars' offseason. I don't know that anyone involved as those answers yet. I do expect we'll start getting a better idea on this front in the coming weeks.

Jim from Jacksonville

When can NFL teams sign XFL players if they want to?

April 27.

Rav from San Antonio, TX

What are the positions of need and how would you address them? Quarterback is not a need, right?

"Need" often is in the eye of the beholder in the NFL, and there are varying levels of need. The Jaguars went 6-10 last season, so you could make the argument that there are many needs everywhere on the roster. And realistically, you can only fill so many "needs" in one offseason. The most obvious needs for the Jaguars? Probably tight end, defensive tackle, cornerback and offensive line. I would address most defensive and offensive line through the draft – and probably cornerback, too. Tight end is trickier because it's difficult to get immediate production there from a rookie and the Jaguars' cap situation will make it difficult to play at the top end of free agency. Perhaps second-year veteran Josh Oliver and a second-tier free-agent tight end could fill that need. Is quarterback a need? This is a tough one. The Jaguars have two quarterbacks – Foles and Gardner Minshew II – who unquestionably have done enough that it's reasonable to think both can start effectively moving forward. But Foles struggled for the most part in his three starts last season after returning from injury, and Minshew had enough concerning moments to go with encouraging ones that there's no certainty about his future. I don't know if quarterback's a need, but the position has been uncertain enough long enough that it's dangerous to pass on a quarterback in the draft if you think he's a potential franchise guy.

John from Jacksonville

So, how did so many conclude from a four-game span, after recovering from injury and playing with a suspect offensive line, that Nick Foles morphed from a clutch Super Bowl quarterback to a "has been?" Are we being just a little too quick to judge here?

"A little too quick to judge" is the world in which we live these days.

Ray from Jacksonville

John: my memory could be fading trying to recall when the Jaguars were good, but I thought that for a five-year period Jimmy Smith was the most productive receiver in the NFL other than Jerry Rice. Considering Rice May be the best player in league history, isn't that good enough for Hall consideration?

Former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith is overlooked for the Hall of Fame, and he deserves to be enshrined. I also think this of former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor and former offensive tackle Tony Boselli. As for Smith specifically … he made five consecutive Pro Bowls and was remarkably consistent and productive from 1996-2005. He had nine 1,000-yard seasons in that 10-year stretch, missing a 10th 1,000-yard season only because he missed four games in 2003. He averaged more than 14 yards a reception a remarkable nine times. His career is all the more remarkable because he essentially missed three seasons – from 1992-1994 – at the start of his career as he returned from early health problems. Smith absolutely was one of the best receivers of his era and doesn't get nearly the recognition for that that he deserves.

Red from the O-Zone Comments Section

John, we know the Jaguars are going to have to either release some veteran players or negotiate a restructuring of their contracts in the next month. When do you anticipate the newswire to pick up? Will most of the releases happen in the last days before the new league year begins?

The 2020 NFL League Year begins March 18. Reports of what likely will happen in the days leading to that date will increase dramatically next week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, with news of actual happenings coming out periodically during and immediately after the combine. Actual news then will increase steadily with a peak on and immediately following March 18.

Ryan From Baltimore, MD

I've been a lifelong Jaguars fan, but here in Baltimore the city is doing something very similar. Baltimore has already added a casino directly across from the stadium with approved plans to add a concert arena, a TopGolf venue and additional hotels in an entertainment district next to the stadium. The biggest difference between the two relatively young franchises is that one regularly wins and has established themselves as a consistent organization while the other hasn't. Playing an extra game is London is a way to get supplementary income while the projects are getting underway. I always see people writing in complaining about the stadium's design and ticket prices … this is a realistic way to help with both.

I don't know that many people complain about the Jaguars' ticket prices. I do know they want more victories for their money. But yes … playing an extra game in London this season is a way of maintaining local revenue while the city/team get Lot J underway. No doubt.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

I hate the idea of playing any home games at all in London, but not because I think Khan is trying to move the team. Owner Shad Khan, President Mark Lamping and even you have said the Jaguars are doing everything they can to try to win. Playing games in London makes this thought categorically incorrect. If they were trying as hard as possible to win, then they would play their HOME games at HOME. The NFL is the only pro sports league in America where a small-market team is not at a big built-in disadvantage. But we've given that equality away. For money. What a joke.

The Jaguars are playing home games in London to keep the franchise stable in Jacksonville for the long haul. The market requires outside-the-box thinking for an NFL, and that's no joke. When the Jaguars were good in 2017, they beat the Baltimore Ravens in London in convincing fashion and Wembley Stadium felt like an advantage for the Jaguars. Playing there isn't something that has to be a negative in terms of the Jaguars' on-field performance.

Mike from Cortland, NY

Hey Zone, I guess I don't fully understand how NFL contracts work in regards to the salary cap. Are signing bonuses counted against the cap? If not, why don't teams make 95 percent of the contract fall under the signing -bonus category. Also, what exactly is a dead cap hit? Why would trading Foles only save Jacksonville $3 million? If the other team assumes his contract, why is he counting against both team's cap?

Yes, signing bonuses count against the cap. They are assigned to the cap on a prorated basis. What that means is if a player signs a five-year contract with a $25 million signing bonus, the signing bonus counts $5 million on the cap in all five years. A dead cap hit is what happens when a team parts ways with a player – either by releasing him or trading him. In that scenario, the remainder of the bonus "rolls" into the year the player is released. If the aforementioned player is released after two seasons, the remaining $15 million in signing bonus rolls into the salary cap in Year 3, thereby putting $15 million in "dead money" on the team's cap for that season. This is why trading Foles saves the Jaguars only $3 million. His cap number should he play for the Jaguars in 2020 is $22.125 million. If he is traded, his remaining signing bonus/cap of about $19.5 million rolls up into 2020 – and therefore saves the Jaguars about $3 million against the cap.

Don from Marshall, NC

If Wayne Weaver never found Khan to buy the Jaguars, then they would not be here. Without those two men there would be no team. Go Jaguars!

This gets forgotten, even by many fans who follow the team most closely. It couldn't be truer.