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O-Zone: Here's hoping

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Are we about to find out that Telvin Smith has a drug problem or something? His whole situation seems to be shrouded in mystery and now we find out that he is going to sit out the 2019 season.

Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith announced on Instagram Thursday afternoon he doesn't plan to play in 2019. It's important to note here that nothing official has been decided from a team's perspective, and that the situation remains very much an unknown because Smith has not communicated with the Jaguars. In that sense, it's also categorically unfair to make assumptions about what led to this decision, and yes – it's absolutely a mystery. He hasn't been in contact with the team or said anything specific publicly about why he has made his decision. Until he does so, it will remain a mystery.

GPP from Jacksonville

Did the Jaguars not see the situation with Smith coming – and if not, why not?

Not see it coming? The Jaguars signed a linebacker early in unrestricted free agency (Jake Ryan), then drafted one in Round 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft (Quincy Williams). They also signed three more linebackers last week (D.J. Alexander, Najee Goode and Ramik Wilson) and acquired another (James Onwualu) off waivers. They clearly saw some situation with Smith coming and acted upon it. Now, did they know specifically Smith was going to announce what he announced Thursday? No. Why not? Because when someone isn't communicating with you, it's hard to know exactly what he's thinking or what he's going to do. That's true in real life. And in the NFL.

Daniel from College Station, TX

Not a question, but I know with the news from Telvin Smith there will be some blow back. I for one hope he gets whatever he needs done taken care of. He's a good player and stepping away like that probably isn't an easy decision. Here is one fan for Telvin.

Indeed. One fer Telvin – and for him getting whatever he needs done taken care of…

Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL

So, Telvin won't be receiving a single dime from the Jaguars in the 2019 season I expect, yes? In the real world that's how it works: You don't show up to work, you don't get paid. So long as he's not paid a cent by the Jaguars, I completely respect his decision to not play next season.

Yes, that's how it works – in the real world and in the NFL. There will be issues to be worked through with Smith's contract and the salary cap. But if he doesn't play, he won't receive his salary for 2019. The Jaguars also will get cap relief of about $9.75 million.

Mark from Archer, FL

So, with Telvin Smith taking this next year off, how does his contract work? Can the Jags seek to recoup some of the guaranteed money that they have already given him?

What essentially would happen is his 2019 contract would become his 2020 contract and so forth if he chose to return that season – and if the Jaguars choose to retain him. But that's premature until we know more about the situation.

Bill from Worcester, MA

So at least Telvin Smith is not holding out. I respect his decision to get his life in order, as should everyone. We all know that won't be the case. I just hope some kind of trouble like domestic charges or failed drug test don't come up. One fer Telvin getting his life back. He'll be back in teal and black.

Another fer Telvin.

Doug from Jacksonville

For the poor soul who unfortunately for everyone is in Jacksonville, I've been fortunate enough to visit 14 NFL stadiums. None has the hangout options TIAA Bank Field has. The patios and Bud Zone are unique. I've never tailgated on the river, then walked up to the stadium in a matter of minutes anywhere else. Without dropping to that clown's level and pointing out deficiencies in all the other stadiums, I genuinely like Jacksonville. One of my biggest complaints were those terrible scoreboards we used to have, but obviously that has been addressed in the most impressive way. I have enjoyed the experience at every NFL stadium, but none impressed me to the point of wishing Jacksonville was more like them.

This is in response to a recent email from a reader – a.k.a., "Mr. NFL" – who evidence suggests is living in Jacksonville against his will and being forced to consume the inadequate, late-arriving content on this free website. I won't repeat all of Mr. NFL's complaints, but he didn't like a lot about: A. Jacksonville; B. Jaguars fans; C. TIAA Bank Field; and D. I can't remember his specific complaints and didn't feel up to pressing all the buttons required to review them. I can say that while TIAA Bank Field obviously isn't as state-of-the-art as some NFL stadiums, it's remarkably usable for a 25-year-old facility, and the Jaguars and city of Jacksonville have done a remarkable job in recent seasons keeping it relatively modern. The fortunate thing for our affable friend is he is under no obligation to see it in person. No doubt to the regret of all those Jaguars fans eager for a hang.

John from Playa Del Carmen

The anxiety we are seeing now about defensive end Yannick Ngakoue's contract is just a drop in the ocean compared to what we will collectively go through with cornerback Jalen Ramsey's next contract negotiations. Personally, I think it all comes from "SMS" – small-market syndrome. All of us Jags fans are naturally a little insecure about our team and how they are viewed nationally (we don't get no stinkin' respect! Etc). Whether we admit it or not, we are all worried that these players secretly feel the same way and will jump at the first chance to leave. The Allen Robinson situation last year played into this, too. Of course, winning will change everything. Please win Jags, please win.

You're correct that winning is the key. Few were talking in these worried tones last offseason. Still, I wouldn't equate Robinson's situation with Ramsey's – or Ngakoue's, for that matter. The Jaguars made a conscious decision to guarantee Robinson a certain amount of money – and they weren't going to go above that amount because they didn't believe he was a true, game-changing, draw-double-coverage receiver. The Jaguars will be able to retain Ngakoue and Ramsey if they believe the players are worth their asking price.

David from Broward County, FL

O-Man, there are many player storylines on both offense and defense heading into training camp and regular season. But I think it comes down to four players on offense that will determine if the Jags are anything more than a six-to-eight-win team. IMHO, those four players are quarterback Nick Foles, running back Leonard Fournette, wide receiver Dede Westbrook and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. If those guys step up, play to form and meet or exceed their potential, the Jags can be a nine-to-10-plus-win team. Your thoughts, please.

It's impossible to put a team's success or failure on three or four players, but your list is a decent one. If those four players all reach their potential, this has a chance to be a very good offense. If the offense is very good, it's hard to see this team not pushing for the postseason.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

It seems the Jags don't have a plan to pay their own players that have performed well – i.e. Yannick and Jalen. Yannick has done everything they asked, seems to be a team guy and he is good at sacking the quarterback. Why is it that man doesn't have a contract? The longer they wait on him and Jalen the price only goes up as other players at their positions reset the market. They threw money at Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, and the rookie Allen although he has done nothing to help the jags makes significantly more than Yan. If I am Yan, I don't step foot back on the field until Jags run me my money. Do better, Jags. Also, they paid Linder and he hasn't come close to living up to the money because he is always hurt.

The Jaguars absolutely have a plan for paying players. Now, is it always possible to pay players exactly what they want when they want? That's another question.

Keith from Palatka, FL

Boy, do I feel like a jackass about Telvin. Open mouth, insert foot. I'm pretty sure I have athlete's tongue by now. I hope Telvin is OK. My prayers are with him.

You have no reason to feel like a jackass if you were critical of Smith not being here for the voluntary offseason program. Just as players can choose not to attend, fans are allowed to not like it when players do that. And because Smith has not spoken publicly, people are going to assume what they're going to assume. And yes … everyone hopes Smith is OK. Here's hoping for that.

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