JACKSONVILLE – I'll try not to turn this into all Josh Norman all the time. I'm not optimistic.
Let's get to it … Lawrence from Orange Park, FL:
O-Zone, I don't understand how the Jaguars couldn't be all in with Josh Norman … yet, it seems like they are not. Is this right? If so, explain please.
John: It indeed does not appear the Jaguars are all-in on Norman, who became an unrestricted free agent Wednesday after the Carolina Panthers rescinded his franchise tag. At this point, I would be surprised if any interest developed. Norman reportedly is seeking $14 million a year, so that probably plays into it, but if the Jaguars don't pursue him it would be about them thinking the move wouldn't improve the roster enough to make it worthwhile.
Michael from Jacksonville Beach:
All Josh all the time?
John: Yeah, pretty close.
David from Durban, South Africa:
I am trying to remain calm as I write this O'Man, but if the Jags do not sign Josh Norman now that the Panthers have rescinded his franchise tag, I will scream blue murder!!! They have the gigantic cap room and he is arguably the best corner in the league on current form and ... wait for it ... we need a stinkin' corner! Breathe ... Gooszfraabaa!!
John: I can hear you screaming. I also think the Jaguars feel differently about Norman than you do. Probably the best way to characterize their thinking is to paraphrase what Carolina Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman said when discussing the decision to rescind the franchise tag. Generally speaking, he discussed the need to not have the approach be all about one player, and the need to make a decision based on what was best for the franchise over the long term. Gettleman also reportedly believes in pressure from the front seven being the key to NFL defense. I would imagine those thoughts apply to Caldwell's thinking in some way here.
Andy from St. Augustine, FL:
So, do we take the money that Olivier Vernon turned down and use it to sign Josh Norman?
John: Probably not.
Jay from Mendham, NJ:
Before everyone freaks out about David Caldwell's "incompetence" when Josh Norman goes to the 49ers, let me say it right now: Josh Norman will go to the 49ers. And that's OK. San Francisco struck out in free agency and the 49ers were embarrassed by it. Let them give the richest cornerback contract in history to a 28-year-old one-year-wonder. We'll be fine.
John: People indeed will freak out when the Jaguars don't sign Norman, but Caldwell's job is to manage the roster toward making the Jaguars as good as possible over the long term. People freaking out is not a huge concern.
Allen from Section 150:
I never really "enjoy" press-conference footage, but I did enjoy the recent press conference with Poz. He really has a grip on the direction of this team and is showing why he is the leader of the defense. One thing that was very visible is his love and passion for the Jaguars as a team and an organization. Just like the fans, he has suffered through the pain and frustration of the last five seasons. You can see it in his eyes and you can feel it in his words. He wants to win so much more than any of the fans can even dream.
John: Not all players "get it." Paul Posluszny does.
Dan from Ohio:
I know you won't answer this question, because you seem to be only taking the stupid questions right now. But what do you think is going on in the Norman/Panthers situation? If you think you can't get a deal done, then why just remove the tag? Wouldn't you try to trade him? Maybe they did try to trade him and were just asking too much. How do you just let a guy like Norman walk free when you could definitely get SOMETHING for him?
John: There are no stupid questions, Dan, just stupid senior writers. The Panthers didn't trade Norman because they're not allowed to do so under NFL rules. That's because a franchise-tagged player is not under contract with the team until he signs the franchise tender. Because Norman never signed the tender he is not under contract with the Panthers, who therefore cannot trade him.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
Now that Dave has the ability to move only two spots up in the draft and get his No. 1-rated player, is moving up in the draft something that should be considered more now after the Eagles/Browns trade?
John: I doubt it. The Jaguars like the talent in the top of this draft, and Caldwell has seemed confident throughout the pre-draft process there will be an elite player at No. 5 overall. I don't get a sense that he feels the need to move up. That's my sense, but if we've learned anything about Caldwell during three-plus years around the organization it's that the sense you get about what he's thinking before the draft often isn't close to accurate.
Jason from Jacksonville:
How do you think the Jags see the defensive-line rotation shaking out? It is hard to believe Sen'Derrick Marks will go from (when healthy) their best lineman to perhaps not starting. With the overall trend of the league being nickel defense as the standard, is the Jared Odrick/Sen'Derrick Marks/Malik Jackson/Dante Fowler Jr. line the starting line in nickel, and Miller coming in for run situations? I am all for the depth and intrigued by the possibilities. It just seems that Jackson's salary indicates he is a starter and wonder how the rest shakes out.
John: I understand people's desire to know who's starting and the accompanying desire to fill out a depth chart. If you're looking at the Jaguars' defensive line that way, then I imagine the "starting" first-down base package will read: end Jared Odrick, nose tackle Roy Miller, defensive tackle Malik Jackson and end Dante Fowler Jr. I think you're going to see a lot of packages with Marks and Jackson playing together, and I think Marks is going to be critical in passing situations. So while he may not technically start he's certainly among the most important players on this defense.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
Why would Carolina rescind the franchise tag on Norman? Were counting on a long term contract to reduce the cap hit? Did they fear he would hold out until he got a long-term deal they couldn't afford? Has he lost a step or do they know something about his health that makes him not worth the bajillion-dollar contract he wants? These are questions I would want answers to before entering the bidding war for his services.
John: The Panthers rescinded the tag because they realized after some negotiations that they couldn't reach a long-term deal with Norman. The idea of placing the tag on him was to reach that, and once they realized it wasn't going to happen, they rescinded it.
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Over/under on the Jaguars drafting three linebackers this year?
John: Three's about right.
Tommy from Pensacola, FL:
Big Oehs, will Dante Fowler Jr. be considered a rookie, a first-year player, or a second-year player entering this upcoming season? My logic, flawed as my wife tells me, says he should be a rookie as he never once saw the field. But I don't know how these things work, officially.
John: Fowler will be a second-year veteran under NFL rules. That's because he accrued a season toward free agency by being on injured reserve the entire season.
Darrick from Jacksonville:
I always pay attention to where the O-Zone questions are coming from. Do you glean any insight into how widespread our fan base has grown based on the location of the folks that write in to you?
John: Not really, but I'm very self-involved.
Jerry from Riverview, FL:
What is the role of scouts these days? There is so much online information available and so many analysts, etc., etc., what value do they bring to the table?
John: Scouts in the digital age essentially have the same role they always have had; the rise of online services and 24/7 internet/Twitter analysis has changed the job very little. Area scouts gather detailed information on players, ensuring a team "sees" – and has extensive first-hand knowledge on – pretty much every draftable college player. Scouts watch practices, game film and games in person – again ensuring that information used to procure talent is first-hand, experienced information. Teams generally speaking do not rely on online services, buzz, the opinion of ESPN, the NFL Network, Twitter, message boards or even senior writers for information on players – and as such, scouts are responsible for the fast majority of the information that goes into selecting an NFL roster. It's not a glamorous job, and it's true that their value is underestimated, but it's their information that forms the vast majority of opinions on players that eventually becomes the "online information" and analysis.
Duh from Jacksonville:
If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking.