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O-Zone: Flaunt the imperfection

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

David from Orlando, FL

King of All (More Punk Than) Funk – Do you remember, a few years ago, we drafted a player that was surprised when the Jaguars selected him since he had not heard from the team in the pre-draft process? It really doesn't instill confidence in the general manager and head coach when they say, "We got our guys." You know what would instill confidence that "we got our guys?" If the players we draft had pre-draft visits or say they have been in contact with the general manager prior to being drafted.

I confess I don't remember this specific incident, though I don't doubt your recollection. I suppose I can see why observers might make a big deal about this, but this shouldn't influence confidence in a team's draft one way or the other. Sometimes teams select players who visit the team's facility before the draft. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes those visits mean something. Sometimes they're more for show – and to make other teams believe teams are interested. Sometimes general managers contact players before the draft. Other times scouts have done enough research that it's not necessary. Pretty much every team visits with pretty much every prospect in some capacity before the draft. If a player says he hasn't "heard from the team" before the draft, that in no way means a team hasn't adequately researched a player.

Tom from Charlottesville, VA

I saw a report that graded aspects of each team's operation. I saw that the Jaguars graded an F for family treatment. This is very surprising! Was the report from current players or did all NFL players grade teams they had played for? They also received Ds for nutrition, weight room and locker room. I was under the impression these had all been upgraded the year before? Very disturbing as a fan to have the team ranked 28th.

The report you saw was an NFL Players Association survey, the results of which were released about six weeks ago – two weeks or so before the start of the 2023 NFL League Year. The grades you cite mostly reflected the state of the Jaguars' facilities, and a low grade was unsurprising considering the age/condition of TIAA Bank Field. I expect most of the "issue" will be addressed with the completion of the Miller Electrical Center this summer. An updated stadium in future seasons won't hurt, either.

Scott from Jacksonville

What's your code? Can I have it? I promise I'm not dangerous. In fact, you won't even know I'm there.

Text me. No wait. Don't. Ever.

Jason from Suffolk, VA

Speaking about the fifth-year option for running back Travis Etienne Jr. has me curious about his long-term future with the Jags. With running back being a devalued position because of longevity and the ability for late-round running backs still becoming stars in the NFL, do you see a future for him as a Jag after his rookie contract is done? Or is this still too early to tell? It seems like a lot of players will be looking to get paid around that same timeframe so someone will likely not be retained.

It's too early to tell, though long-term megadeals for any NFL running back these days are tricky. It's the nature of a position at which longevity is difficult and rare. Remember: A first-round selection such as Etienne would usually be beginning a second contract in his sixth NFL season. How many teams want to commit three or four more seasons to a running back at that point in his career? It's tough.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA

O, your answer to the fifth-year option gave me a headache.

OK.

Brandon from Omaha, NE

Hey O, Would it shock you to see Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen traded at some point before the start of the season? As a big fan of his I want nothing more than to see him to put up huge numbers in the upcoming season and get an extension keeping him in Jacksonville for a long time. However, if I take my fan goggles off, I see a good player who will command elite money next offseason. Could you see the Jags trading him before or during the draft to help move up to a more valuable pick? Would it be wiser to trade him after the draft for future 2024 picks? There are some good, slightly past their prime edges still available in free agency that could be signed on a one-year deal to fill the void. How do you see it playing out?

Not much shocks me in the NFL, though a trade involving Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence would qualify. As for Allen, it would surprise me if the Jaguars moved him before the season. The same factors that likely will make it tricky for the Jaguars to re-sign him – namely, the lack of huge sack numbers – figure to make it tricky for a team acquiring him in a trade to re-sign him. Because of that, I don't know that Allen would draw compensation in a trade to make it a wise deal for the Jaguars. Also: While perhaps Allen hasn't produced the mega-sack numbers he or observers want, he has been a very good player and a very important part of the defense – and the team. He was the defensive player last season that I would have least wanted to see out with an injury. His loss would hurt.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, Ca

"I want to trade you for Trevor Lawrence, but before you hang up, consider that I will give you our No. 1 pick for the next 5 years, which includes the first pick in this year's draft." Trevor for this year's #1 and the next four #32 picks? No thanks.

You go, girl.

David from Maplewood, NJ

John, Seems like a flurry of Walker is a bust sentiment going currently, I wonder if the same people were calling Lawrence a bust after one year. I was critical of Trevor Year One, and early in Year Two wanted to see more. Boy, did he deliver. Walker needs to make more plays and have more impact, but I don't understand the people assuming he can't do that. Way too early and he showed too much to assume he can't get much, much better in year two and beyond.

Good eye.

Alejandro from Mexico City, Mexico

I'm concerned about the salaries of the fifth-year option that you talked about in the O Zone on April 15, because Lawrence was in Pro Bowl as alternate. If he's in the Pro Bowl this year, the fifth-year option would be as expensive as a Franchise Tag? Just for playing flag in a game that he wasn't originally invited?

To avoid giving Bruce another headache, I shan't go to go into every detail of how the salaries are determined for NFL players playing under fifth-year options. I also shan't say "shan't" much after this answer. Interested readers – and he knows who he is – can find the details of the fifth-year stuff in the April 15 O-Zone. For the purposes of this answer, know this: While Pro Bowl appearances help determine fifth-year option salary levels, only Pro Bowls made by original ballot are taken into consideration. Because Lawrence made the Pro Bowl following the 2022 season as an alternate, that appearance won't factor in the equation. Remember, too: If Lawrence signs a long-term extension before the 2025 season, he won't play on the fifth-year option. There's at least a decent chance a long-term extension will happen.

Chris from London, UK

Hey Zone, Can I ask what the season ticket prices are like for the Jags compared to the rest of the league?? The Khans taking a lot of stiff over here in the UK after announcing Fulham's new ticket prices… the most expensive being £3,000 which is the most expensive noncorporate football season ticket in the world.

The Jaguars according to one report had the NFL's second-least expensive average season-ticket price for the 2022 season. They traditionally have been among the league's least expensive tickets.

Don from Marshall NC

Sacks do not tell the whole story with Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker, who had a good first year. He made plays all over the field and they had a big impact. The guy is going to be a top star in the NFL at any position he wants to line up at. Go back and watch every play he had. The tone some fans are using is wrong and if I was them, I would get a 44 jersey before you eat the crow! Go Jaguars!

Don remains "all in."

Kevin from McGavock High School

JO- Wasn't it Groucho Marx that said he would not join a club that would have him as a member?

Indeed it was. I've often attributed it to Woody Allen even after having previously been corrected. I thought for a time I was the king of all funk. I now see I am imperfect. I may need some alone time. Move on. Nothing to see here.

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