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O-Zone: Grab game

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I missed the purpose of the Alex Mack signing. It seems the terms were not too difficult for the Browns to match. What was Dave Caldwell's thinking?
John: You're apparently not alone in missing the purpose. That perplexes me a bit, but I'm easily perplexed, I guess. The Jaguars pursued Alex Mack and negotiated a contract that they deemed reasonable and that they thought the Browns would have trouble matching. While it is being commonly reported as a five-year, $42 million deal, it's more accurate to call it a three-year, $26 million deal because that's how much is guaranteed. That's nearly $9 million a year for a center, and while there are those criticizing the Jaguars for not making the contract more difficult to match how much more than that were the Jaguars supposed to pay a center? The Jaguars offered what they thought was a workable offer. The Browns matched it. I guess I don't grasp what the Jaguars did wrong.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
With the Browns reportedly matching the deal for Alex Mack, do you see them trying to make an offer for some compensation in the form of draft picks if they offer Jacksonville another chance?
John: No. This is over. Mack is staying with the Browns.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
So can you please elaborate on how the transition tag works? I get the Jags made Mack an offer; he signed it. The Browns then matched it. Can the Jags not go and offer him still more money and maybe outbid the Browns? It would seem that would be the next logical step if allowed.
John: There's not much more elaboration needed. Once a team matches a team's transition offer, the player in question returns to his former team and plays under the contract. That's the rule.
Phil from Belleville, NJ:
Well, that was quick. Seems the Browns didn't take too long to match the Jags' offer. Why would Dave go through all that trouble of meeting with him and drawing up an elaborate contract just for the Browns' staff to take one look at it and say "looks good we will match it?" Seems like a big waste of time to me.
John: I'm amazed at the number of people concerned with how David Caldwell uses his time. NFL general managers, like many efficient people, are remarkably good at multitasking. One of several things Caldwell and a few people around the Jaguars' front office worked on this past week was an offer to Alex Mack. They also met with some potential draft selections. And who knows? They probably watched some video of prospects, had some draft meetings and possibly discussed a few other free agents. I guess what I'm getting at is Caldwell's a pretty intelligent guy. He probably didn't shut down all areas of his life just because the Jaguars were offering a contract to Alex Mack.
Charles from Bangalore, Indiana:
Is a Top 10 offensive-line prospect less risky than the three top quarterbacks in this year's draft? Seems like Greg Robinson has been sneaking in to the picture lately. Any chance the Jags might go with him with their first pick? Would he even be a fit with the current offensive line set up?
John: A Top 10 offensive-line prospect is almost always less risky than a quarterback prospect. There are exceptions, but generally speaking that position misses far less because it's easier to scout and the skill set needed to play the position translates more obviously to the NFL. As far as Robinson, sure, he would fit with the offensive line because he appears to be an elite talent and a line can always use that. But don't look for the Jaguars to take Robinson. To do so would probably require using one of the first six or seven selections. If the Jaguars select that early, the guess here is they would go wide receiver, quarterback or pass rusher – probably wide receiver or pass rusher.
Bucky from Freakville:
Why would we pay Alex Mack so much ($5 million per year over the average) when we can pick up much cheaper centers in FA and the draft? Is he just that good?
John: I certainly would hope someone thinks so.
Paul from Del Ray:
What is your opinion of the franchise tag versus the transition tag? It seems the Browns screwed up to save not a lot of money by choosing the latter over the former. Why would they want to have to accept what they know will be an expensive contract, and to the most unfavorable terms Dave and Mack's agent can dream of to disrupt the Browns' future? Doesn't seem to be worth saving $1.4 million of their $30 million cap space.
John: Whether the Browns made a mistake or not is a matter of perspective. I don't know the ins and outs of the Browns' cap – or about their plans with or the values they place on their own players – enough to accurately assess why they did what they did with Mack. As far as whether it's a good move to use the transition tag rather than the franchise to save "just" $1.4 million, I look at it like this: Sometimes when my son tells me he wants $20, he tries to persuade me by telling me it's not a lot of money. He doesn't usually view my response of "It is to you right now, isn't it?" as being as witty as I think it is, but he rarely denies the truth within.
Nick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Put yourself in our general manager's chair. You're drafting one player in hopes he will be a core player for the next decade. Both Clowney and Mack are on the board at No. 3, who do you chose?
John: Thanks a lot, Nick. I did what you told me to do. I was in Dave's chair for about 30 seconds when security escorted me from the building. Now, my code doesn't work and I have a discussing-where-to-go-from-here meeting with Lamping on Tuesday.
Jay from Port St. Lucie, FL:
All this talk about Khalil Mack, and yet I can't see anywhere that he's visited Jacksonville or that we have gone to him. Did I miss something? Did we invite him to come to J-Ville to "Hang out" even?
John: Yes, he visited earlier this week.
Ed from Section 205:
Good to see the NFL love for the Jags. The Jags graciously agree to play a home game in London for four years, the NFL also take a premier opponent for the game, then slaps us with the two most insignificant preseason games. Seems like a slap in the face to fans and a big devaluing of the season ticket. What gives?
John: Sorry, Ed. I tried to get worked up about this, but I had strikingly little luck when I scanned the rest of the league's preseason schedule searching for two "significant" preseason games.
Smitty from Southampton, VA:
I feel like if we draft Sammy Watkins, then hopefully maybe it lights a fire under Blackmon's rear end. Then maybe he'll get his head together and become a true star we thought he could be. Plus a revamped Blackmon and an electric wide out like Watkins … that's quite a duo. We just need someone to throw to them.
John: From the Jaguars' perspective, one doesn't have anything to do with the other. The Jaguars hope Blackmon works through his issues irrespective of who they draft because they want to see him work through those issues. A player such as Watkins with one such as Blackmon … that's a couple of Top 5 talents. If they were on the same team, it would have a chance to be a special duo.
John from Jacksonville:
Is it me or are a lot of people stressing out over the option of the Jags NOT taking a quarterback in the first round of the draft? If I recall correctly, there have been some franchise quarterbacks in recent history who were not selected in the first round and some quarterbacks selected in the first round who were not franchise quarterbacks. Give me one fer three deep breaths.
John: Hey! One fer deep breaths, but your point is a good one. There are people upset at the idea that the Jaguars might not take a quarterback in the first round, but mostly those are people who desperately want this team to have a franchise quarterback. The decision-makers want a franchise quarterback, but it's their jobs – nay, their responsibility to the organization – to remove desperation from the equation and to decide if there's really a quarterback worth taking.
Levi from Evansville, IN:
When considering pass rushers, is a four-three defensive end more important than a rushing outside linebacker? Does one have more value, or are they equal so long as they both get to the quarterback? Thanks!
John: Just get to the passer, baby.
James from Orange Park, FL:
Do you think the Jags grab him if he's there in round 2?
John: Not if he sees them first.

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