JACKSONVILLE – Free agency is soon upon us – the official version of it, anyway.
Let's get to it … Chaun from St. Louis, MO:
If we sign Barry Church does that mean with the No. 4 overall pick we won't be getting Jamal Adams?
John: The Jaguars according to media reports will be signing safety Barry Church from the Dallas Cowboys as an unrestricted free agent in the coming days. This feels like a solid signing, one that makes sense considering former strong safety Johnathan Cyprien's projected asking price. Church also is considered a bit better than Cyprien in coverage, which is important in a pass-oriented NFL. As far as the No. 4 selection … yes, signing a strong safety as a free agent would make drafting one in the Top 5 highly unlikely.
Yikes from Jacksonville:
Really? Barry Church? They could have got a better, younger strong safety in Tony Jefferson or T.J. McDonald.
John: And so it begins.
Andre from Fort Collins, CO:
Mr. O, I know it's not official so you can't report it, but it looks like upgrades at safety (Church) and defensive end (Calais Campbell) are coming to Jacksonville. What do you think of these possible moves? Both seem like solid, young ascending players, especially Campbell.
John: I've discussed the possible move for Church elsewhere. As for Campbell, I'm a big fan of the move. I thought before free agency if they got Campbell and only Campbell it would be a good free-agency class. I've never covered him, but my understanding is he's tough and professional with very little chance of being unproductive. He's 30, so he's not ascending, but his addition gives the Jaguars a big-time player at defensive end who can set the edge and disrupt the quarterback. I'm not a huge fan of free agency, but if you must partake then it's best to partake with players such as Campbell.
Marty from Jacksonville:
John, how can you say offensive line is not our biggest need? Outside of quarterback, it's the most important position for every NFL team, because without a good offensive line, you cannot run the ball or pass the ball or control the clock and keep your defense off the field. Plus, given the fact that both Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin have said they want us to run the ball and be more physically dominant, offensive line is obviously our biggest need. No offense goes anywhere and no team can win without good offensive line play. Seriously, the most frustrating thing about this entire four years of rebuilding is the failure to build the offensive line.
John: I didn't say offensive line wasn't important or that it wasn't a priority. I did say there were those who perhaps didn't believe it was the team's biggest need. The Jaguars at the time I answered already reportedly had agreed in principle to a trade for left tackle Branden Albert, and my sense is they know four of their five projected 2017 starters on the offensive line. At the time I answered, they knew half of their starters in the secondary and perhaps 75 percent of their starters on the defensive line, so perhaps at the time I answered offensive line maybe in the eyes of some wasn't their biggest need.
Matt from Orange Park, FL:
Jalen Ramsey proved he can be an elite corner and is a building block of this franchise. Given his versatility, any chance we move him to safety if Cyp and Amukamara are actually outta here?
Galen from Colorado Springs, CO:
Hi John, I was hoping you could shed some light on the Jags (possibly) signing Barry Church over Johnathan Cyprien. It feels to me like we traded our homegrown, younger, in-the-box style safety with some coverage problems for an outside, older, in-the-box style safety with some coverage problems who is 29 and probably about to start heading downhill. What do you think the Jags brass saw in Church that Cyprien lacked? Personally, I would have liked to see Cyp stay with us as a homegrown player. Thanks!
John: We'll find out more about the wheres and whys of the Jaguars' pending free-agent signings in the coming days, but Church is a player who long has been considered a reliable run defender who is said to have played well against the pass this season. Remember: if you're looking for a strong safety without coverage issues, you're going to look for a long time. If strong safeties were elite-level coverage guys they most often would be playing a different position.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Here's one for Mr. Church! Welcome to Jag family!!
John: Hey, one fer Barry!
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire:
Mighty 'O': This year I will fulfill the dream of seeing the Jags play at EverBank Field. It's only taken me 17 years to save up and I am awaiting the scheduled release to pick which game to see. However my main concern is at Jacksonville Airport. Is the Red Zone for immediate loading and unloading or passengers? Or is that the White Zone?
John: You can tell me. I'm a doctor.
Kevin from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I've always believed if you have drafted the right talent you do everything possible within reason to not let them get to free agency. Putting the franchise tag aside, unless it really becomes necessary, do you think the Jags will be able to lock up Telvin Smith, Allen Robinson, Brandon Linder before the preseason starts with new contracts? I'm thinking they let Marqise Lee play out 2017 and if no injuries get in the way, they can approach him after the season with a contract offer.
John: I absolutely think the Jaguars will be able to sign the three aforementioned players to long-term deals if that's the way they choose to go. Remember, while Jaguars fans/observers are very familiar with the body of work of those three players, this is not the exact same organization it was two months ago. Tom Coughlin is now the executive vice president of football operations, and Doug Marrone is now the head coach. Many positions also have new coaches. Such newness calls for reevaluation and it must be determined by new decision-makers if players indeed are fits for moving forward long-term. I believe all three players should be re-signed, but I believe the Jaguars will take the necessary time to make sure that's the case. If that doesn't happen before the season, there's no reason to panic. Such things can get done after that.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
How many LEOs are included in Coach Marrone's lightning package? OK, in in all seriousness, who do you think will "start" (play base downs) at weak-side defensive end this season? Is Yannick Ngakoue strong enough to be more than a pass-rush specialist?
John: We can joke about Leo/Otto/Slotto/Blotto from now until training camp and beyond, but the reality is there are going to be a lot of similarities between the Jaguars' 2013-2016 defense the 2017 defense in terms of scheme. Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. are both pretty good against the run, with Ngakoue playing the run better than anticipated as a rookie last season. And I do believe he will start at the weak-side end until Fowler shows something that indicates he is the better option over there. But I doubt you'll see a base defense with Ngakoue on one side and Fowler on the other. I think you'll see a starter acquired there in free agency or the draft. Who knows? There may even be news on this front in the coming days.
Dime Jag from jag4life forum:
Hey, O. I'm a huge Jaguars fan since Day One, and it makes me mad when people call me a hater. But, I think the general manager of the team is terrible and should be fired. Also, I think the new head coach is just more of the same from the previous staff, and I know he will never be able to turn things around, so he should be fired, too. The starting quarterback has no hope of improving, so he should be cut and then driven out of town. The former left tackle, and current left guard hasn't lived up to his draft position, so he should be cut and escorted back to where he came from. Same goes for the running back we drafted in the second round in 2015, and the wide receiver from the early second round in 2014. Cut and cut!! And, finally, the owner of the team is nothing more than a con man who intends to purposely make the team lose at least 13 games every season so he can relocate it to London after fans here stop going to the games. All that being said, I love this team, so don't call me a hater!! And, one more thing... In the interest of full disclosure, I think the senior writer on this free website is a hack, and a spin doctor, and never gives his honest opinion about the state of the team. Fire him, too!!!