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O-Zone: Far out

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dave from Jacksonville:
Hey, John: If you could have your pick of any of the free agents you listed (hypothetically assuming all are available), who is your top choice for the Jags? It seems like you are leaning toward Dez Bryant.
John: Wow. That's a phenomenally big hypothetical – not to mention a big misinterpretation of my "leanings." First off, I doubt many of the free agents anyone's talking much about are going to be available. Franchises value really good players for the simple reason that they are … wait for it … really good. As far as my leanings, while I think Dez Bryant is really, really good, I'm also a big fan of Demaryius Thomas. Bottom line: I wouldn't get too worked up or lean too far in any direction over free agency right now. I imagine Thomas and Bryant will be long since unavailable – as well as most of the names that seem so exciting right now.
Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
Fred Taylor only made it to ONE Pro Bowl!?! I was floored when I heard that. That's just not right.
John: No, it wasn't.
Chris from Niagara Falls, Canada:
Any chance the Seahawks "buck" the trend of overpaying for their quarterback? Letting Russell Wilson walk would free up a lot of money to re-sign their defense and also add to it at the same time. Maybe pick up a journeyman-type quarterback? Crazier things have happened.
John: I'm not sure your last statement is true. I stop short of calling Wilson an elite quarterback, but there's no way the Seahawks let him sign somewhere else. This trend of "overpaying" quarterbacks of which you speak? There's a reason it exists: good quarterbacks are hard to find and if you find one that's even pretty good as opposed to great, then not keeping him is a very scary proposition.
Dalton from UCF:
Will Olson and Marrone have any kind of introductory press conference in the coming weeks? I really wanna hear some stuff from our new offensive leaders.
John: Yes, the Jaguars are expected to have a media availability this morning with Head Coach Gus Bradley, offensive coordinator Greg Olson, assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach Doug Marrone, running backs coach Kelly Skipper and quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
How do NFL teams prepare for free agency? Obviously, pro personnel staffs follow players throughout their careers. However, are "scouts" allowed to interview coaches on other teams about their players? I ask because coming out of college, a player may have a negative grade due to immaturity. Over time, he may have "grown up. Wouldn't that be important information to a general manager?
John: Sure, it would. And I imagine the names of free agents come up when general managers talk with one another about active players. But you wouldn't have scouts interviewing current coaches on other teams – and in general not much information is passed back and forth between franchises. Information is a valuable NFL commodity and coaches/personnel officials from one team aren't anxious to share it with scouts – or anyone else, for that matter – from another.
Guy from San Antonio, TX:
John, I have a two part question. With the offseason 34 days from now, are teams able to start talking to unrestricted free agents before then, or is that the hard date to begin setting up deals? When do teams have to have their franchise tags in place? Can you block a player from being signed by another team with a franchise tag?
John: Teams can talk to their own free agents, but they can't start calling the agents for players from other teams expected to be free agents until March 7, three days before the start of the league year. Teams can place franchise or transition tags on players between February 16 and March 2. As for whether a franchise tag blocks a player from signing elsewhere – yeah, pretty much, but not always. That's because there are two franchise tags. An "exclusive" franchise player earns the average of the top five salaries of his position in the current year or 120 percent of his previous year's salary, whatever is more. An exclusive player cannot negotiate with another team. A non-exclusive franchise player earns the average of the last five years of salaries for the top five salaries at his position. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with another team, but if he signs elsewhere the signing team gives the former team two first-round draft selections.
Trevor from Jacksonville:
Latavius Murray was severely underused by the Raiders until it was way too late for them last year. Is that on Greg Olson as the OC, or what?
John: We have plenty of time to wildly, incessantly blame Olson for things that go wrong for the Jaguars next season. I see no reason to wildly blame him for things that happened last season on a team I don't cover.
Tom from Jacksonville:
Do you think tight end was the Jaguars' least productive position? I thought it was and looked up some statistics. There are 18 tight ends in the NFL with more receptions than our top two combined. And I doubt they are on the roster for their blocking ability. I don't want to look up our rushing stats. How are we going to be any good without this position helping us?
John: When your offense is 31st in the NFL in total yards, there are enough unproductive positions that it's difficult to single out one over the other. The Jaguars' need at tight end is pretty well-documented. Marcedes Lewis is a very good run-blocker, and while he has talent as a receiver, he hasn't been consistent or productive enough. That doesn't necessarily mean you get yourself into a mad rush to release him; it means you pursue a pass-receiving tight end in the offseason. I believe the Jaguars will do that in free agency and if they don't get what they want there, I believe they will address it in the draft.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
I know a lot of fans are hoping the Jags are able to sign Patriots free safety Devin McCourty this offseason, but I'm thinking he may end up staying in New England. Do you think if that ends up being the case, the Jaguars could yet again be a thorn in the side of the Browns and sign Teshaun Gipson to an offer sheet? I've loved watching him play when I've had the chance.
John: I wouldn't rule that out.
Maurice from North Potomac, MD:
What's up, John? ... The Browns apparently might try to move up and get Marcus Mariota. I also heard the same thing about the Eagles as well. Let' say the Bucs pass on Mariota and the Titans take either Gregory or Williams … what do you think would be the best option? 1. Trade back with the Eagles or Browns. 2. Take Randy Gregory or Leonard Williams. 3. None of the above. 4. Say its wayyy too early and suggest that I stop with the pre-draft nonsense.
John: There is plenty of time to run through trade-back scenarios. That's scary because that means these are just beginning. But I'll put my fear aside enough to say this: I understand Jaguars fans are going to be intrigued by trade possibilities this year. Those possibilities are intriguing because every once in a while a team such as the St. Louis Rams is able to pull off a deal that brings in multiple good draft picks over multiple seasons. I don't expect there to be enough salivating over Mariota this offseason to draw such interest. I expect there to be talk. I expect there to be speculation. I expect breathlessness. I expect all of those things to reach a pitch before April 30. But in the end, I expect the Jaguars will select No. 3 overall. And that's OK because I expect either Randy Gregory or Leonard Williams to be there, which means I expect the Jaguars to get a very good player.
Brad from Morgantown, WV:
Who was the last Jaguar to make the AP All Pro team?
John: Maurice Jones-Drew was an AP All-Pro first-team running back in 2011.
Brian from Orange Park, FL:
O-man, here's a Dead-Zone topic for you: Has there been any talk of realignment happening? When we first entered the league as a member of the AFC Central, we had a good rivalry going with the Steelers and that got ripped away. Now we have been stuck with the Colts for years and honestly, how are they in the South? (Or the Cowboys in the NFC East.) Your thoughts and insight appreciated!
John: I don't expect realignment soon. The league was aligned pretty much the same way from 1970-2002, and although expansion and franchise movement made the 2002 realignment necessary, there was resistance. There has been no franchise movement since then, so there has been no push to realign.
Joe from Jacksonville:
Wait!!!! What!?!? Are you saying Gus Bradley believes that winning will come if improvement is made!? Absurdity
John: Yeah … he's "out there." No doubt.

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