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O-Zone: Go time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mark from High Springs, FL

I'm not a GM, and I'm sure there are many facets to the job, but Trent Baalke's statement about tagging Josh Allen reads like an excuse you give your teacher when you're trying to turn in your homework late. Can you think of a good reason why Trent didn't take Josh out to dinner the night he cleared out his locker to begin negotiations? Waiting until the last minute to clear cap space, then not having enough time to ink a deal that both parties seemed to want, looks like sloppy brinkmanship. I know the fans take issue with anything Trent does these days but is it wrong to expect that his job this offseason was to pay Allen and tag Ridley, to keep our second-round pick, based off the deal that Trent negotiated?

I'm not as locked in to when Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke started negotiating with outside linebacker Josh Allen's people as many observers. While I understand that that's an easy target for Baalke critics, there was plenty of time to get a deal done if the sides had been close enough to agree. It's deadlines that typically get deals like this done as much/or more than early start dates. Maybe starting early would have helped – and many observers believe this – but this hardly a given. As for Baalke's job this offseason, it's to navigate the salary cap, free agency and the draft in such a way to give the Jaguars the best chance to win the short- and long-term – not necessarily to negotiate contracts and make moves that fans/observers expected or wanted. I think signing Allen to a long-term deal and placing the franchise tag on wide receiver Calvin Ridley would have been good moves. I have written and said this often. That doesn't mean the Jaguars agree, and not making those moves doesn't automatically mean they have done a bad job this offseason. The popular thing is not always the right thing.

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

Kudos to Trent and the Jags for getting offensive guard Ezra Cleveland under contract for the next three years. I was a little surprised that guard Brandon Scherff is still on the roster with his high cap hit. Is Scherff's release still a possibility?

The Jaguars indeed reportedly are re-signing guard Ezra Cleveland, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next Wednesday on the start of the 2024 NFL League Year. They also are reportedly restructuring Scherff, which means he will return for a third season with the team in 2024. I'm a little surprised Scherff remains on the roster considering his cap situation and his injuries the last two seasons. Life is full of surprises.

Paul from Lake City, FL

Can you name a quarterback that had the potential to be "great" that was never given enough supporting pieces to consistently make the postseason?

Archie Manning.

Duane from SEC 102 from Jacksonville

Hey, Zone. I have been a season-ticket owner since Day One and have had many, many opinions on what I think the Jaguars should do each year. Seems more times than not the Jaguars never do what the fans and media think they should do – and it seems way more times than not that the fans were closer to being right than the Jaguars employees paid millions to make these decisions. Am I wrong? What's your opinion?

I am fortunate enough to get some version of this question most – if not all – offseasons. I also am fortunate enough to receive many emails and talk with many fans about what the Jaguars "should do." These conversations and emails typically reveal a a wide, wide, WIDE range of opinions. Given this wide, wide, WIDE range, I often am left to wonder how the Jaguars would accomplish doing what fans and media think they should do. Would they take a poll? Hold town meetings? Would they attempt to do everything fans want? My thought is that would require a lot of draft selections and a lot of cap room, but perhaps I'm missing something.

Taylor from Columbia, MD

With Cleveland being re-signed, the chances of the Jaguars running it back with same offensive line increased exponentially. As of now, our left tackle, left guard and right tackle will return. What do you think? As a reader wrote yesterday - God help us. This front office makes me want to facepalm. Year after year, the Jaguars' decision-makers are filled with some misplaced hubris that they know better than the masses and year after year the position groups they don't actively improve underperform. Talk me off this ledge?

There was always a very high chance of the Jaguars re-signing Cleveland, so I'm not sure his re-signing changes much about this situation. I would be a little surprised if the Jaguars don't change something along the interior of the offensive line this offseason. I suppose I would be a little less surprised about it now than I would have been a week or so ago.

Shawn from Moore County, NC

Experts: Jags need to re-sign Allen and Ridley. Baalke: Gets neither done. Experts: The Jags need three new interior offensive linemen because quarterback Trevor Lawrence was pressed way too much and they couldn't run the ball. Balke: I'm not cutting/trading left tackle Cam Robinson. I'll re-sign our left guard. I believe in center Luke Fortner. I'm not cutting Scherff. Why is it everyone else knows what we need to do except the person paid to do it? Before you defend him and say we still have free agency and the draft let me give you my Baalke prediction. He signs a veteran venter he knows won't beat out Fortner and he drafts a swing tackle on Day Three. Why can't we have nice things?

I started to answer this. Then I reread your email and remembered you already know what I'm going say.

Chuck from OP South

I try to not fan out too much, but they didn't release Scherff or Cam and re-signed Cleveland. If they think they're going to trot that same O-line again and expect me follow along I've got some news for them. I'm not the only one who will be out. They are incompetent and delusional if they think they can compete with that group. This is too many years in row everyone on planet except them thinks this O-line is an embarrassment.


Marcus from Jax

CBS NFL Insider Pete Prisco says, after the resigning of Ezra Cleveland, that if the Jags go into next year with the same interior three (Scherff, Fortner, Cleveland) that it would be a "disaster." Agree or disagree?

I'm not surprised Prisco thinks this. It would be from this view perhaps a bit risky and a lot unpopular to start the same interior offensive line next. I can't predict the future, so I don't know if it will be a disaster.

*Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld           *

With Allen getting the franchise tag, what are the chances of Ridley returning? What are the chances of Ridley signing before the new league year? What are the chances of Ridley signing with the Jags as a free agent?

My sense is Ridley is going to test the market. High-profile free agents who test the market usually don't sign with their former teams.

Scott from Jax in De

I'm probably not alone here. I hate hearing the rumors about Ridley. Why do the Jags always mess around with a good thing when they shouldn't? The guy was just knocking off the rust last year, was building chemistry and played pretty solid for a guy who hasn't played in a while. Don't even get me started on Allen's contract nonsense. One would think that consistently having consistent good players might lead to consistent winning seasons. Am I wrong? I get it's a business, but man that part of the game blows...

Consistently good players are good. How much to pay those good players within the context of other players and the long-term is a more complicated question.             

Harrison from London

Seeing what has happened with cuts and free agency, do you think now this makes the Jags more likely to go corner in the first round, or sign one in free agency?


Hoss from Tallahassee, FL

After hearing what Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said at the NFL Scouting Combine last weekend about running back Travis Etienne Jr.'s workload moving forward, do you anticipate Baalke bringing in a running back through free agency? And if so, do you think this would be one of the bigger named running backs that will be available in free agency?

I wouldn't be surprised if the Jaguars sign a running back in free agency. I would be surprised if it's one of the bigger – or costlier – names.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Even with this team screwing up the offseason – again – you still suck.

Here we go.