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O-Zone: Getting it right

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Big Jay from Jacksonville:
This Vick news has to be a smokescreen right?
John: This question is about a report on Twitter late Thursday afternoon by Ian Rapaport of NFL Media that the Jaguars may have interest in Michael Vick and/or Josh McCown. Rapaport's a good reporter, and I'm sure someone he trusts is telling him this, but in this case, I'd be surprised if there's much to the story. Very surprised. I'd expect the Jaguars to re-sign Chad Henne, and when they do, I'd expect it to be the end of the Vick-to-Jacksonville story.
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
I know it's part of the business, but when a player is released after seven years (Uche), you just can't pretend like it's nothing. The interviews, social work, community projects... I understand you cannot have a heart-warming relationship with all players like you and Josh Scobee have. I hope Uche can still find a place on some team and keep on dreaming his dream playing in the NFL.
John: I absolutely didn't think or pretend as if Uche Nwaneri's release was nothing. Most media members who covered the team would agree that he was as classy, accommodating and well-spoken as any player in the Jaguars' locker room, and my sense is fans feel the same way. He will be missed.
Darrell from Starke, FL:
I guess I was not the only one to request it, but please thank the powers that be for the live web cam showing stadium progress.
John: The web cam is cool. I like it.
Tom from Los Angeles, CA:
What about the Jaguars taking a tackle in the first round? Pasztor is good, but why pass on a top tackle if he is on top of your board? Luke Joeckel is talented but obviously not invincible.
John: If tackle overwhelmingly was the best player available at No. 3, I don't doubt the Jaguars would consider going in that direction. It doesn't appear that will be the case this season and with plenty of other needs, I don't see them taking an offensive tackle.
Travis from Fargo, ND:
This might be a dumb question, but does the past season count as a contract year for Justin Blackmon since he was suspended?
John: It's not a dumb question. It does not. If Blackmon plays next season, he in essence will be a second-year veteran because he did not play enough games in 2013 to accrue a season toward free agency. He played four and a player must play or be on injured reserve or the Physically Unable to Perform list for six or more games to earn an accrued season. That eventually could affect his free-agency status after what would have been his fourth season. Normally, he would become an unrestricted free agent at that point. If he is with the Jaguars at that point, he could be in restricted free-agent status, but we're a long way from that.
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
Wasn't there a time when the NFL draft was like 17 rounds or more? When did the draft go to seven rounds and what was the reasoning?
John: The NFL Draft indeed used to be much longer than it is now. It has been seven rounds since 1994, was eight rounds in 1993 and 12 rounds from 1977-1992. It was 17 rounds from 1967-1976 and 20 or more before that. It was shortened, among other reasons, to allow players who would have been late-round draft selections the opportunity to find better fits as free agents.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach and Section 106:
I have a question of clarification about the transition tag. If new team offers 'x' and current team matches the offer, can the player make a choice or must he stay with the current team?
John: He must stay with the current team. The transition tag gives the original team right of first refusal.
Taylor from Section 140:
Assuming Clowney is off the board at No. 3 and also assuming Dave Caldwell isn't in love with one of the quarterbacks, do you think No. 3 overall is too early for Dee Ford?
John: Yes.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
With the re-signing of Cameron Bradfield, and the production of Austin Pasztor, how do you see the offensive tackle position playing out?
John: Pretty straightforward, actually. Luke Joeckel is projected as the starter on the left side and Austin Pasztor is projected as the starter on the right side. Cameron Bradfield and Sam Young will have a chance to compete, with one of them likely being the swing tackle.
Daniel Since Day One:
You don't quit your job before you have another one just because you think you should get a better job. Despite everything, Caldwell is still here, and apparently still believes he should re-sign backup players before they earn starting jobs, while firing his starters. I don't get it. After an 0-and-whatever-worst-season-in-history disaster last year, we gotta do this again? And you would use the #3 pick on Manziel? How much of your weekly paycheck is spent on Lottery tickets each week John?
John: Yeah, David Caldwell is still here and he's here to stay for a while. Actually, he's here doing the job he was hired to do, which is to try to reshape the Jaguars' roster and direction while moving them toward a competitive, sustainable model. And yeah, I might use the No. 3 pick on Manziel. I've said before I doubt that's the direction the Jaguars will go, and I think I have been pretty clear that my intrigue with Manziel is because of exactly the point you make – that he's a gamble. Gambles are fun. They're intriguing. They're not always wise, which is why the Jaguars pay me to be a senior writer and not a general manager. And by the way: Good to have you back, Daniel. The next few weeks should be fun.
Vitaly from Asheville, NC:
Why? Just tell me why?
John: Ask Daniel. He has a lot of answers.
Will from Jacksonville:
What are they doing with all those seats they are ripping out of the north end zone? I think a row of four would look great in my man cave.
John: The seats are not for sale, or available to the public. They belong to the city, so please do not take your anger over this issue out on the O-Zone.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
There is a phrase going around now that it is better to release a player a year too early than a year too late. But isn't this also good for the player being released?
John: It's good if the player has enough value that he can be signed by another team. It's particularly good if the player has enough value that he can be signed by another team willing to pay him a lot of money up front.
Rick from Callaway, FL:
I understand the Jags now. Sell high, buy low. Are the Jags now a farm team for other teams?
John: I don't know that your understanding is as thorough as you might believe. No, the Jaguars are not a farm team. They are a team in transition, and – as was the case last year when they released players in the secondary before rebuilding that area – they are in the process of changing the offensive line. Part of that process was releasing Uche Nwaneri, a player scheduled to make a high salary at a position that the team feels can be improved upon in the coming months. You call that buying low and selling high and that's fine. The Jaguars see it as continuing the process of building toward a sustainable, competitive roster.
Ken from Jacksonville:
I am as confused by the Uche release as everybody else is, especially when you have Mr. Ole' on the other side of center. Are we going to have three new interior linemen next season? Do you anticipate them being college free agents so we can get to about $70 million in cap space? All the scoreboard/swimming pool amenities aren't going to mean squat if we don't get some players in here! Say it ain't so!
John: Goodness, people are indeed confused over this one. If there was no such thing as free agency or the draft, I might share your concern. But the last I checked the league plans on having both this offseason. If that changes, I'll let everyone know.
Andy from St. John's, FL:
At what point in this whole process, does it become acceptable to be old and spend money? I feel like we are all 21 and eating at McDonalds. When do we get to be 40 and eat at Ruth's Chris?
John: If you're talking about spending money in free agency, the reality is there is no Ruth's Chris, unless you consider Ruth's Chris unbelievably overpriced food that isn't the best food but is probably flawed food that someone didn't want for some reason. In other words, you can spend in free agency, but you better spend smart and you better make good decisions. The best way to approach free agency is and always will be as a supplement to drafting well, and you better have money to pay your own players when you do draft well.
Tym from Southside:
Tagging along on the trip, in case we need live updates from the ROAR Calendar photo shoot. #ShadrickSightings
John: Sometimes these things are so dead-on it's scary.

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