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O-Zone: Far in the future

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Levi from Boise, ID

Big-O! I'm sure it varies from team to team, but what insight do you have on the Jaguars' approach to free agency and the draft? Do they look at their complete roster at season's end and grade every player? Do they weigh those grades on the positional value coming up in free agency? As fans, it's very easy to like a player available in free agency and say, "Sign them!" Scheme, coaching, roster construction, special teams, versatility and so many factors must go into this. Any insight on how the Jags play it, though?

The overarching answer to this is teams have personnel departments whose job it is to do this always. Teams therefore constantly analyze and manage their rosters no matter the time of season or offseason. This analysis undergoes a "reset" immediately following each season, with coaches and personnel officials first reviewing their roster based on the previous season then implementing an offseason plan – first for free agency, then for the draft. A team's assessment of its own roster is weighed against grades and assessments of available free agents – and to a degree, long-term strengths and weaknesses in the draft. And no … teams can't simply look at an available free agent and say, "Sign them." That indeed is the glorious domain of the fan. And teams indeed must analyze potential players based on scheme fit, age, salary, health, versatility, locker-room fit and other factors.

Rob from Jacksonville

You responded to Larry and said keeping teams together would be next to impossible due to the cap. To Larry's point, if the quarterback wasn't the focal point, would it be so hard? I've often wondered when the day will come that someone decides there are 21 other starters and building, or trying to build, around one position might not be the best way. It might be, but maybe not.

You're essentially saying teams could build and maintain a championship roster for the long-term emphasizing a strong overall team rather than an elite quarterback. Yes, doing so would be significantly harder than building around an elite quarterback. This is because of the complexities of balancing age, injuries and salary structures of, say, 10-to-12 core players as opposed to building around two or three core players including a quarterback. Also: A franchise quarterback – as we have seen with players such as Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning – can lift players around him to the point that your team is a perennial playoff qualifier and give you a chance for the Super Bowl each year. A franchise quarterback also can potentially play at a high level for a decade and a half. Considering the expected career length of non-quarterbacks, it would be hard to keep a core of 10-to-12 players together so long. The trick, of course, is finding an elite quarterback.

Thomas from Jacksonville

Football has always been a physically tough game and always will with large bodies colliding. But I would like to have seen Tony Boselli and Mark Brunell play a few more years (They were not injured with hip-drop tackles). And thankfully, Fred Taylor wasn't injured with a hip-drop tackle either and we got to see him for a longer career. Glad the league is trying to eliminate the most likely injury situations.


Rich from Dacula, GA

It's hard to put this into words, but it's just the way I feel regarding players salary demands and payments. They are human and want as much money as they can, as most of us with jobs do. The point here is salaries of players essentially are paid from fans by our tickets, concessions, buying from advertisers, etc. The amount of money paid to players is so outrageous it just makes people dislike the players that think they are worth these outrageous sums of money they expect and get. I used to be a season holder to different NFL teams back in the 70s and 80s before the salary cap days. It seemed more reasonable than now. Now it seems like a mortgage payment, even the price of streaming or cable payments. Other sports have gone this route and survived, but baseball is NOT the national past-time it was. NBA is another that just turns people off because of the excessive salaries. Am I the only one that feels that way, and do you think that the greed will eventually ruin the game?

You're not the only one who feels this way, though I don't know that high salaries caused baseball's popularity to decline. The NBA also from this view seems healthy. Also: International soccer stars make staggering salaries and there is no shortage of worldwide interest in the sport. Bottom line: While some observers always will recoil at "outrageous" salaries, I don't sense the issue will bother enough people enough to cause a sport's decline – and I get no sense that the NFL faces much danger of declining in the foreseeable future.

Doug from Jax Beach

Thank you, NFL owners, for adopting the new hip-drop tackle rule. It seems to have worked in stopping people from writing to John O. about Ridley.

To everything turn, turn, turn.

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John. I like the influx of veterans during free agency. And yes, while they need to stay healthy, we have had good luck with the free agency vets over the last five or six years. How would you compare the veteran makeup of the team (new and existing) of the team to, say, George Allen's Over the Hill Gang with the Skins? Certainly, worked fairly well for them?

The Washington Football Team's "Over the Hill Gang" in the 1970s was a unique team, but it was from an era so removed – and so different – from the current era that I'm not sure it's fair to compare that team to current teams. Allen was famous for trading away draft selections, so much so that that Washington team did not have a first-round selection from 1969 until 1980. During Allen's time as head coach – 1971-1977 – the franchise had just one selection in the first three rounds and the franchise had just three first-round selections from 1969 until 1991. That 1969-91 stretch made up the bulk of the most successful era in franchise history. It's significant that all was before the salary cap era. It's hard to imagine such an approach would be attempted – or work – in this era.

Anthony from Richmond

As general manager, would you offer an extension to safety Andre Cisco or cornerback Tyson Campbell this offseason? Both seem on the cusp of a breakout similar to a Josh Allen situation. Would you do it now to avoid an inflated number after a possible Pro Bowl season this year?

If I were a general manager, I would want to see another high-level season from both players before committing to them on a long-term basis.


When the Jags drafted wide receiver Parker Washington last year, I always thought it was in part for replacing Jamal Agnew this year. Since that no longer appears the case what do you see his role on team in 2024? Kind seems to me that if they spend high pick on wide receiver in this draft, he might not be on final roster.

I expect he will be on the roster. I think it may be difficult for him to be active.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

So, just hear me out. I agree with you on outside linebacker Josh Allen probably skipping all the "voluntary" workouts due to the contract. So ... does this franchise tag motivate or demotivate a player in this case? I would think if you wanted to make a case, go to the workouts and show the bosses WHY you deserve that raise. At least in our non-NFL world that is how it works. You don't show up, you get gone. But honestly, Allen doesn't show up to workouts, skips training camp due to same issue, season comes and performance is decreased due to all the missed time? Jags were right not to sign him due to being a one-season wonder? Self-fulfilling prophecy anyone? From my perspective it would benefit Allen more to come out and PROVE why he deserves that money. Also, I give General Manager Trent Baalke a lot of heat, but KUDOS to him for not biting at the San Francisco trade. Smart move. I agree. Go get BAP at 17 and let's replenish this roster.

If a team signs a player based on something that happens in offseason workouts, that team is signing a player for the wrong reasons.

Don from Marshall NC

In two thousand years, we're all going to have big heads and small bodies. You will thank your lucky stars that NFL made the game safer! Go Jaguars!

When it comes to whatever he's discussing in this email, Dom remains "all in."