O-Zone: Free is me

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Mark from Jacksonville

Regarding Ngakoue holding out, I keep reading that if he doesn't report within 30 days of such and such date, the risk is he'll fail to accrue a season toward unrestricted free agency. However, he will still hit restricted free agency in that scenario, correct? My understanding is that restricted free agency means the other 31 teams can offer him anything they want, and that the Jags have the right to match it. I guess I don't understand how restricted free agency is any different than unrestricted in terms of how much money he could make. He'd still essentially have the entire league with the ability to “bid” for his services, and just that the Jags would have the option to match any other offer (meaning he would still get the most money possible). Am I misunderstanding the whole situation?

What you’re misunderstanding is how restricted free agency really works. While NFL teams have the option of signing restricted free agents, a player’s current team often makes that option unattractive by placing restrictive tenders on the player. In the case of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, the Jaguars almost certainly would place a first-round tender on him were he to be a restricted free agent next offseason. That would mean a team not only having to sign Ngakoue to a contract that the Jaguars would be unwilling to match, but also giving the Jaguars a first-round selection in exchange for signing Ngakoue. That likely would be enough to preclude another team from signing Ngakoue – who in that scenario would play the 2020 season for the Jaguars under the first-round tender of about $4.4 million. That’s not bad money, but it’s not unrestricted free agent money.

Steve from Wallingford, CT

Can we stop using 10 sacks as the measurement for "elite?" That’s like calling every running back with 1,000 yards elite, except there's always more 10-plus sack guys than 1,000-yard rushers. I think it makes them a great player, but I feel like elite is stretching it.

I don’t know that I’ve ever said 10 sacks made a pass-rusher elite, but OK.

SMH from Jacksonville

Why do some players alienate the fans asking for too much money? Insurance for injury concerns are worth a lot?

NFL players ask for a lot of money because people in position to make a lot of money typically maximize that as much as possible. I suppose it does alienate some fans. The NFL’s ratings and interest level indicates that many people don’t feel alienated.

Bob from Fleming Island, FL

Is there anyone or anything that has been a surprise thus far in training camp?

Wide receiver Dede Westbrook has been better than I expected through four days, though I wouldn’t call that a major surprise. Give this question time. The Jaguars have been in full pads just once so far during 2019 Training Camp.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Is it true that Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles stayed after practice to work with some of his receivers? If so, is this unusual? Or have past Jaguars quarterbacks and receivers also put in “overtime?”

Quarterbacks and receivers often stay after practice to run routes and work on timing. It doesn’t happen every day, but it’s not unusual.

Jim from Jagsonville

We seem to have a good mix of rookie and veteran talent at every position except defensive lineman. How have the players behind defensive end Calais Campbell looked in practice so far? How many defensive linemen should we retain on the 53-man roster, or are the defensive end and defensive tackle interchangeable with defensive line if needed? And one fer Calais Campbell being in our top 30 list in 5 years!

The Jaguars have a very strong top seven defensive linemen – Campbell, Ngakoue, end/linebacker Josh Allen and end Lerentee McCray and tackles Abry Jones, Marcell Dareus and Taven Bryan. They also drafted tackle Dontavius Russell in Round 7, so that’s eight. I suppose a ninth could be 2017 third-round end Dawuane Smoot. The interchangeable players on that list are Campbell and Bryan, who can both play both end and tackle. I don’t know that there are many defensive lines better than that one.

Don from Marshall, NC

I wish the new Collective Bargaining Agreement would make all contract details private. Go Jaguars!

This won’t happen. While I agree coverage of contract detail takes a bit of a lost-in-the-weeds feel at times, coverage of the offseason helps keep interest in the NFL high every offseason. Even if that weren’t the case, contract details are so publicized that fans have come to think of salary details as public information. This is a genie that’s not going back into the bottle.

Mark from Prescott, AZ

John, does cornerback A.J. Bouye have a knee bruise as well?

Bouye had hamstring tightness early in camp and was held out of team drills for a couple of days. Just as there was no reason to push Allen (knee bruise) unnecessarily in organized team activities, minicamp and early in training camp, there’s no reason to push Bouye early in camp.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

How does the passing game look? Are they building chemistry? Does it look like it will be a more consistent offense with a better third-down conversion rate? It would make such a huge difference overall to give the defense more time on the sideline. How is tight end Josh Oliver fitting in? Is he developing chemistry with Foles? Does wide receiver DJ Chark look like he could do more than get vertical and make big plays? Has his route running improved?

The passing offense looks better, though it’s early. I like what I have seen from Oliver, and Chark has shown some flashes while running with the starters.

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

If Mr. Khan wanted to sell the Jaguars tomorrow, how many qualified buyers you think show up to the bid?

Enough to sell.

Thomas from Williamsburg, VA

Could you please name the top 3-4 defensive ends that have been more productive than Ngakoue since he entered the league?

I don’t know that it’s all that pertinent. Ngakoue is a 4-3 defensive end; 3-4 ends typically are more strong-side ends than pass-rushing ends.

SmartGuy from GeniusLand

Did the searching party ever find your lost brain? Or is it still lost?

I don’t understand the question.

Mason from Palm Bay, FL

Per DiRocco: "The Jaguars are carrying $24.4 million in dead money in 2019, the fifth-highest total in the league this season. The bulk of that total is the $16.5 million from the release of quarterback Blake Bortles. That's the highest single-player total in NFL history." Stop defending the Jags’ decision to re-sign Blake; most front offices would not have made that decision. That's simply incorrect.

Given the circumstances of the time – i.e., considering they were coming off the AFC Championship Game, and considering how Bortles had played much of that 2017 season and postseason – many teams would have tried to retain Bortles in that situation. That doesn’t make it the right decision. Clearly, in retrospect, it was not.

Braddock from Jacksonville

Is it the 25 best or most impactful players? If it's the most impactful it's Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith, Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor and Leon Searcy – not necessarily in that order but they laid the foundation. Everyone else stood on the shoulders of greatness. Mojo was a great player but those guys, along with several others like Keenan McCardell, Gary Walker, Tony Brackens, Kevin Hardy, Aaron Beasley and Carnell Lake set the example of what a Jag should play like. Even Mike Peterson and Brian Schwartz.

Voters voted on the Top 25 players in franchise history for the All-25 currently rolling out on jaguars.com. How they interpreted that, exactly, was up to them. But your list makes it sound as if the only impactful players in franchise history played in the 1990s. That wasn’t at all the case.

Jon from Ocala, FL

Hi, O: There are two rookies during the preseason that I could tell they were going to be special players, Jalen Ramsey (he is) and wide receiver Justin Blackmon (probably would have been if not for the off-field issues). Anyone in this year’s draft class that you think we will be able to say the same thing?

Allen looks the part, which makes sense because he was a Top 10 selection. but the Jaguars have worked in pads for a day during training camp. It’s too early to call any rookie special.

Jason from Salem, OR

Hi, John. Here's to a competitive, winning and consistent Jaguars team! Really looking forward to the upcoming season! Are you looking forward to any new eats there at stadium?

Not really. As much as it amuses people when I say this, I “work” on game days. Partaking in stadium food would require not only extra walking, but paying for it myself. The walking is distasteful. The thought of paying for it myself is unspeakable.

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