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O-Zone: Fuzzy memory

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Keith from Palatka, FL:
Free agency is not over because there are still four holes to fill (Leo, running back, center and wide receiver) and not all will be filled in the draft. A No. 1 wide receiver may be filled if Justin Blackmon returns, but that is a big "if." Dante Fowler, Jr., looks like the answer at LEO. Center depth/competition could be addressed with Stefen Wisniewski in free agency or Cameron Erving in the draft. Running back is critical and looks like it will be addressed in the draft. Who do you think Caldwell will still try to pursue in free agency if anybody?
John: This is weird, Keith. We're kinda, sorta close to … wait for it … agreeing! I think there's a real chance the Jaguars address pass rusher and running back early in the draft, but to listen to Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell tell it, he's more concerned about finding a slot receiver than a No. 1. And then there's center … people keep talking about the need to fill the center position; we'll see if that's truly a need. I doubt you're going to see anyone high-profile on the interior line in free agency, but I do agree that interior line will be addressed either in the draft or in free agency. Stay tuned.
Jacob from Westchester, NY:
Dan Skuta five years for $20 million? I don't get it, enlighten me.
John: The Jaguars wanted a tough, reliable player to fill the Otto linebacker role, a position that requires a skill set that's tough to find. I wouldn't worry much about the money involved. I haven't seen the numbers on Skuta, but my understanding is it's not a contract with much of a long-term cap hit.
Mike from Julington Creek, FL:
Bortles, Thomas, D. Rob, A. Rob, Hurns, Lee, Lewis....and hopefully Blackmon! This is impressive. Why can't the NFL give the fan base any info on Blackmon? Hasn't he done his time?
John: That group of receivers/tight ends would be impressive, but you're looking at the Blackmon situation wrong. The NFL's not quiet on these issues to keep information from the fan bases of teams; it's quiet on these issues to protect the privacy of players involved.
Zain from Orlando, FL:
Contract details are coming out - you have to give props to Dave Caldwell, Idzik, and Co. Almost all guaranteed money upfront while we have the cap space, allowing the later years to function as team options with no financial blowback. Signing other team's free agents is a risky process, especially when they haven't been full-time starters, but the front office did a great job limiting the risks as much as possible. What you think about the contracts Zone?
John: I think you've got it.
Troy from York, PA:
O-man … I just gotta say out of all the money Caldwell wasted I think the only one that will pan out is Parnell the rest of them I really don't understand we need help at all linebacker positions and he didn't try to sign any of the good ones that could of made a difference on our defense or even go after a veteran receiver to help with our young receiving core. But I really hope for Bradley's sake Caldwell has a plan coming up in the draft.
John: Theres probably not a lot I can do to change your mind so I guess well just have to agree to wait and see but I think Dan Skuta could be better than people think at the otto and it seems your overlooking Jared Odrick who has a chance to be a significant factor in this scheme. But I think Caldwell has a plan in the draft because I doubt seriously he's just going to go on vacation between now and late April and fly blind into the thing.
Quinn from Tampa, FL:
Any update on Cecil Shorts III possibly sticking around? He knows the offense and is a class act. Or at this point is it looking like the youth movement will take over the position?
John: I expect Cecil Shorts III to sign somewhere soon, probably as a second – or more likely, a third – wide receiver. Once there, I expect his new team to be pleasantly surprised and if that new team has an experienced, capable quarterback and a mature offense, I expect Shorts to be very productive. I also expect to answer a few O-Zone questions next season about why the Jaguars let him go. Such is the NFL in the days of free agency.
Ron from Asheville, NC:
The Jags have done a very good job of filling most of their needs in free agency and I am sure the draft will do the same. One thing I did notice was there is only Luke Bowanko at center and nobody else at that position on the current roster. Do you believe that in the second wave of free agency that has to be addressed? I don't think the Jags would want to rely on the draft of having a rookie start if Bowanko misses time due to injury. I would think finding a vet is of high priority to back up Bowanko.
John: I would think that, too.
Keith from Jacksonville:
Don't you think our Jags should go after Adrian Peterson now? At least try and see what he is looking for?! Like Caldwell said … wait on the next wave of players and see where it goes. Don't you think they should try??
John: Not really, and it has nothing to do with Peterson's off-the-field issues. I'm just not big on signing free-agent running backs. Should the Jaguars draft a running back? Yeah, I think it's probably time to make that move, but history says you can get pretty much the same value from a second- or third-round running back as a big-name free agent. That's why I didn't get real worked up over DeMarco Murray and it's why I wasn't surprised the Jaguars didn't try harder to sign him. Remember, Caldwell said this week the Jaguars' plan was to pursue five players; a running back wasn't on the list. It shouldn't surprise anyone the rest of the offseason when people throw out the name of an available veteran running back and the Jaguars opt not to pursue that player.
Clay from Pensacola, FL:
John, you mentioned you believe Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon may be selected prior to the Jags' pick in the second round, presumably in the 1st. The recent trend appears to have suggested running backs not being taken in the 1st round. Why do you believe Gurley and/or Melvin would buck this trend? Also, humor us with who you think would be a better fit for the Jags. Let's get to it...
John: I believe Gurley and Melvin could buck this trend because draft analysts pretty much unanimously say that's likely – and because Seattle and Dallas were successful running last season. The copycat mentality of the NFL suggests at least a partial resurgence of young running backs. I like Gurley; if you believe he will recover from his anterior cruciate ligament injury and get to 100 percent by his second season, then it's reasonable to take him.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
I said I wasn't going to freak out over Parnell, but wow, did they really have to pay him so much??
John: Yes.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
It was interesting to hear Caldwell talk about how the plan has been to make the running-back position one of the last priorities. Isn't that counter intuitive in developing a young quarterback as well as implementing a new "run-to-pass" offense? It seems like a front line running back is exactly what this team needs now with those two conditions in place.
John: Caldwell said this on the season-ticket-members conference call Friday while speaking about DeMarco Murray, but this was hardly a new stance. He has said it pretty much whenever asked pretty much since taking over as the Jaguars' general manager in January 2013. But when speaking Friday, Caldwell in no way said that he didn't plan to pursue a running back this offseason. Last I checked the NFL hasn't held the draft yet.
Bryan from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Is Trent Richardson worth going after?
John: Good one.
Gavin from Jacksonville:
Am I the only one glad we didn't sign Suh at that price? That's elite-quarterback money, and I don't care how good he is, a defensive tackle doesn't affect the game like a quarterback. That contract is going to cause issues in the future.
John: You're not the only one. There's a guy in Flagler who's happy about it and a family of three in South Georgia, too.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
I sent you a hilarious quip one time, but I forgot what it was. Could you do me a favor and track it down. I usually don't check my email on the weekends, so a response by mid-next week would be fine. Thanks.
John: I checked. It wasn't funny.

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