JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Bill from Jacksonville
John, would you give Trevor Lawrence a "fully guaranteed" contract? If you were the Jaguars' general manager and Trevor just wanted $1 more than Deshaun Watson, would you give it to him?
If I were an NFL general manager, I would resist a "fully guaranteed" contract for Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who will be eligible for a contract extension for the first time next offseason. That answer would go for any player. I wouldn't feel badly about it not being fully guaranteed because I would expect a significant amount to be guaranteed – perhaps something along the lines of the $100 million or so the Buffalo Bills guaranteed quarterback Josh Allen when he signed his extension in 2021. While much recently has been made of NFL players not receiving fully guaranteed contracts, elite quarterbacks sign contracts structured in ways to guarantee huge percentages of their salaries and bonuses contract – and to continue paying the players significantly so long as they play at a high level. Not guaranteeing the contract gives the team a way to at least partially salvage their salary cap should the player not merit the contract in its later years. It's hard to see why that's wrong. If I were the Jaguars' general manager, I wouldn't base Lawrence's contract off the one quarterback Deshaun Watson signed with the Cleveland Browns. That's correctly seen as an outlier.
Doug from Jacksonville, FL
I imagine you are tiring of the Coughlin discussion, but please indulge me with a different take. It could be argued a big part of the almost 20 years of mediocrity (at best) was due to the hole Coughlin put us in. I am old enough to remember the "good old days" but what's fresher in my mind as a season-ticket holder is the decades of going to games watching the Jags lose and the droves of away fans celebrating. Poor drafting was absolutely some of that so it can't all be put on Coughlin, but he started the ball rolling on the decline. Does four years of good outweigh decades of bad?
Former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin left that position following the 2002 season. The Jaguars were in first place in the AFC South midway through the 2004 season and finished 9-7 that season. They also made the postseason in 2005 and 2007. Whatever struggles they did or didn't have from that time until Coughlin's 2017 re-hiring as executive vice president of football operations had nothing to do with him.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire
Oh Mighty 'O'/King of All Funk, regarding the Super Bowl being played in London. First problem is the time difference, it would have to kick off at 23:30 over here finishing somewhere around of 3 a.m. – and that's before Trophy presentations, MVP awards, etc. Public transport would have stopped around midnight and would not start until 6 a.m. I am not sure what 60,000-plus people would do for three hours before the first trains start. Spurs Stadium is in the middle of densely populated and builtup area. There is no room for any pre-game activities, tailgating, etc. I cannot see how Haringey Council would grant a license for the event. And when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about this at an NFL UK Event, his answer was, "We only award the Super Bowl to cities that have a NFL team." Nice idea for Spurs to seek to host the Super Bowl, but they have about of much chance of that happening as me suiting up for the Jags as QB1 this season.
Adam from Allentown, PA
Isn't the RPO essentially dead? Since you can't hand the ball forward?
No. The rule the implemented this week during the 2023 NFL Annual Meeting states it is illegal to hand the football forward in situations where it also would be illegal to pass the ball forward. For example: when a runner is beyond the line of scrimmage, or when a forward pass already has been completed, or when a quarterback hands the ball to an ineligible receiver. The rule does not make handing the ball forward to an eligible player behind the line of scrimmage illegal. Run-pass options take place behind the line of scrimmage.
David from Oviedo, FL
Zone – The Jaguars were a game away from the Super Bowl in 1999 and 2017. In the following years draft, the Jaguars drafted wide receiver R. Jay Soward and defensive tackle Taven Bryan, respectively. I'm not saying this exclusively led to hard time, but it didn't help. Here's hoping General Manager Trent Baalke gets it right, builds on the momentum of last year and uses the first-round pick to draft a stud instead of a spud.
You're right that those selections hurt. You're also right that many other things went wrong following those seasons. But yes … you must draft well. No doubt.
Justin from Jax
Hey, Zone. I really like the D'Ernest Johnson signing. Dude seemed legit in his brief play time for Cleveland. My question is this: "Do you think he'll earn the No. 2 spot, behind running back Travis Etienne Jr.?" I like [JaMycal] Hasty, but I feel Johnson is going to be the sneaky good signing we'll remember.
The Jaguars signed running back D'Ernest Johnson as an unrestricted free agent from the Cleveland Browns last week. I guess I expect him to be the "backup" running back, particularly in situations that call for a more physical runner. Hasty could be the backup when the Jaguars are looking for a big play or are in a more explosive package. Head Coach Doug Pederson's history in Philadelphia was he used multiple backs extensively. I expect Etienne to remain the clear No. 1, go-to back but the combination of Johnson and Hasty could give the Jaguars a chance to go "multi-back" more effectively than they did last season.
David from Chuluota, FL
Johnny-O. One of the things I think Coach Pederson does well is showing appreciation for all of his players … and he even knows all their names. It could be really easy to focus on Trevor 24-7, but with him, it's all about the team. Also, you never hear him bad mouth or slight players in interviews. It not hard to see why players like to play for him.
One fer Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson knowing his players, I guess.
Jerry from Yulee, FL
Zone, You speak frequently about the huge contract that will be given to Trevor in the next year or two. Based on his actions to date he seems like the ultimate team player. Do you think he will continue this team-first attitude into his contract negotiations? I'm not saying he'd take significantly less money than the market would dictate, but do like quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots or Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins and make sure his contract didn't prevent the team have a strong supporting cast around him.
First, while Brady did at times sign for a bit less than he could have demanded with the New England Patriots, he really started doing this in a big way about a decade into his career. I don't expect Lawrence or any quarterback to do this. Teams with top-of-the-market quarterbacks contend and routinely win Super Bowls. The last three Super Bowl champions – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Brady, Los Angeles Rams/Matt Stafford and Kansas City Chiefs/Patrick Mahomes – have done it. It's sort of the norm.
Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL
I can see the SubZero MK references in regard to wide receiver Calvin Ridley coming from a mile away. Let's hope he lives up to that pedigree!
Tom from Charlottesville
If Bijan Robinson is available when the Jags pick, do you think they might take him there?
Texas running back Bijan Robinson is considered a Top 5 talent. He could slip well out of the Top 10 of the 2023 NFL Draft, because his position has been devalued over the last decade-plus to the point that many teams just really resist selecting it in Round 1. My sense is Robinson is good enough to be selected before No. 24. I think the Jaguars would be tempted to select him there. I also think they might pass.
_Kinzie from Asheville, NC _
Hey, John! After reading your comment about the Jags gaining at least three points per game compared to last season, I crunched some numbers. The entire 2023 season we averaged 24.9 points per game. However, factoring in that the offense took some time to gel, if we only look at the last half of the season including playoffs, we averaged 25.7 point per game. Add three points to that and we are only a half a point from the league leading Chiefs. If that doesn't give Jaguars fans a reason to be giddy, well...I don't know what will. Can't wait to see this team mature and sharpen its sword next year.
Kinzie is "all in."