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O-Zone: Farewell, youth

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

So, just to be very clear: if a player decides to "opt out" this year due to COVID-19 … no money, no pay, no contract accumulated time. But you get a consolation prize of $150,000-$350,000. Not a bad payday for doing nothing, I suppose. Need to talk to my boss about this, maybe this is a way to go. You should talk to Shad, maybe he would let you sit out for a year and collect $200K.

Part of your email hints that a player opting out of the 2020 season for COVID-19 reasons may be doing something untoward – or taking some sort of easy way out to make money for doing nothing. I don't pretend to know everything about everything (though it is true that I do know an impressive amount), but I can tell you the number of NFL players who opt out of the '20 season who believe they are in an easy or advantageous situation will be … well … none – or very close to it. The money left on the table for a player opting out – combined with the fact that NFL careers are short with little guarantee of that career continuing on the same arch after a year away from the game – makes opting out a very difficult decision. As far as your final suggestion, I don't think Jaguars Owner Shad Khan would agree to that for the simple reason that a senior writer – or any other non-player employee, for that matter – isn't remotely comparable to an NFL player. Players are represented by the NFL Players Association and are therefore subject to collectively bargained rules. It is this way because players are entertainers with unique, marketable skills that can't easily be replaced. Many people don't like this. Many people don't think this is fair. Many people rail against this. It's not all glory and profit, either, by the way. Players also have high-risk – and often, short-lived careers – that can and usually do end quickly and without working. Either way, the fact that many people don't like certain things about player working conditions doesn't change the fact that as long as the NFL is wildly popular and producing wild amounts of revenue players are going to be high-demand enough to not work under the same rules as many other professions.

Tyler from Jacksonville

The biggest part of the kneeling debate that gets overlooked is that it is disrespectful to the police. The same men and women who protect society from bad people. I know it is popular to wear socks that depict cops as pigs, and emotionally anecdote against these brave men and women. What is the NFL doing to support police officers? What have the Jaguars done to support the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office? I know you think that this is "funny" and all because I have the audacity to criticize an NFL team by writing into an NFL team's inbox, but I can assure you that me ever watching another NFL game is at stake if police are not adequately supported in proportion to the amount of support spent on anti-police agendas. God Bless America and all those who support and protect it!!

I haven't gotten the impression that potential disrespect to police has been overlooked at all in the kneeling debate, but the reality is I'm not going to solve that debate with a few lines in the O-Zone. But know this: while I joke about many things in the O-Zone, and while humor and barbs are part of the back and forth that make this forum interesting (for some people, anyway), I never have said nor implied that the kneeling issue and the feelings people have about it are "funny" – just as I have never questioned "the audacity" of anyone writing to this forum regarding the issue. The Jaguars respect the police. They respect the armed forces. They respect first responders. They also respect the rights of people and players to express opinions they believe important. Either way, I can't control how you'll respond or perceive what happens this season. Only you can control your reactions to that, but yes … God Bless America. Never any doubt about that.

Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX

Apology not accepted. I loved that in your Friday O-Zone. Who are you to accept an apology directed at someone else? Some good-natured teasing is acceptable, but people/fans have to realize that they are still responsible for their actions. While it is good that an apology was given in the "O-Zone," perhaps it should be given to the person it was directed at, Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan.

We all need football in the fall.

John from Jacksonville

Is it time to give Marcell Dareus a call?

I have received many questions throughout the offseason about the Jaguars possibly re-signing former defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. These series understandably increased Friday with the announcement that Jaguars veteran defensive tackle Al Woods – signed as an unrestricted free agent this offseason – has opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. Even with Woods' announcement, I wouldn't count on the Jaguars pursuing Dareus again. When teams and veteran players separate – for whatever reasons – it's difficult to come back together. Also, Dareus would be in his 10th NFL season and was due $12.5 million in 2020; it's hard to see him playing for what the Jaguars would be willing to pay. It's extremely unlikely he will rejoin the Jaguars considering those factors.

Hunter from New Hampshire

Can we not jinx the Jags by saying no one opted out yet?

We could do that – or we could realize that reporting news on Friday by saying that no Jaguars had opted out at that time had zero influence on whether a player might make a subsequent decision regarding their health or that of their families. I'll choose the latter.

Marc from Oceanway

What is the latest date that Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue can sign and/or report and still accrue a full season in regards to free agency?

Ngakoue has the option of signing the franchise tag and playing – and getting paid for the games in which he plays – through Week 10 of the 2020 NFL season. But the accrued season really doesn't matter at this point when it comes to Ngakoue. He has accrued enough seasons – four – to qualify as an unrestricted free agent. It's not the accrued seasons keeping him from free agency at this point; it's the franchise tag the Jaguars applied to him earlier this offseason.

John from Jacksonville

It's several weeks before the season might begin and on-field practice won't start for a while. Do we really need to know who's going in and out of the COVID-19 turnstile every other day? It's really a waste of website space and has no relevance yet.

Yes … there is relevance to reporting who's on and off of the Jaguars' reserve/COVID-19 list. It's the news of the day, a topic of interest and they're official NFL roster transactions. And while getting unsolicited advice on editorial decisions is "awesome" and a needed reminder of how much help I need on this front on a daily basis, rest assured that there's plenty of space on to bear the burden of a few stories a week reporting who's on the list and who isn't.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

DaVon Hamilton is on the COVID-19 list and Al Woods has opted out. Suddenly stopping the run is a concern again. Is this season going to come down to whichever teams still have their starting quarterbacks at the end of it?

Rookie defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton indeed is on the Jaguars' COVID-19 list, and Woods opted out of the '20 season on Friday. But I wouldn't call Hamilton's presence on the list a concern about not being able to stop the run; we are, after all, six weeks from the start of the 2020 regular season. But your question absolutely has merit – and the situation does illustrate the effect that COVID-19 could have on the regular season. The whole hope behind the testing protocols and social-distancing plans is that there will be a flurry of positive tests during this period as players report – and that those positive tests will dwindle to a "manageable" level once the protocols become "routine." If the flurries continue after a week … then, yes there will be a lot of concerns at a lot of positions for a lot of teams. And healthy quarterbacks almost certainly will decide a lot about the 2020 NFL season.

Jesse from Oceanside, CA

O-Zone! My birthday is August 17 and I need to know what did you do for your 31st birthday? Go Jags.

Jesse! Two things. I prepared for my son's first birthday, which was the following day. And I mourned the loss of my youth and innocence, a grand tradition that continues daily to this day.