O-Zone: Hidden meanings

Seamus from Vancouver, BC

You're being cagey regarding paying Yann. You say from time to time teams should take caution when signing players not kept by other teams during free agency because "their drafting team didn't see them as fit to retain," and then you shrug off free-agent contracts signed by the Jaguars as "every team overpays for free agents" – followed by your response to anyone who says Pay Yann is "he wants too much" – even though if he did go to another team, he would get that payday. It's cagey, and we all see it and find it a bit annoying to the point of insulting.

I'm sorry you're annoyed. Annoyance can be, well … annoying. I'm not sorry you're insulted, though, because that's "fun" for me. Either way, I'm not being "cagey" when answering questions about Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. I'm simply explaining what's happening – and why the Jaguars have taken the approach they have taken in this long, ongoing negotiation. First, it's true every team overpays in free agency. That's a longstanding NFL truth. But my point I have made often is while every team overpays there must be a limit to the extent to which teams overpay. The Jaguars have reached that limit with Ngakoue. They believe he is a very good player and they wanted to sign him to an extension last offseason. They offered him a contract a year before he was to become an unrestricted free agent. They believed they were trying to pay him fairly – perhaps more than fairly considering they were trying to sign him to a long-term extension so early in his first contract. Ngakoue clearly saw things differently, and believed he was worth more. The issue with your question – and the issue with many questions I receive like this – is when you wrote, "even though if he did go to another team, he'd get that payday." This reflects the common belief among some fans that the Jaguars are refusing to offer Ngakoue a contract he easily would receive were he on the free-agent market. This is not the inarguable truth many fans perceive. We don't know for sure what the Jaguars have offered or what Ngakoue wants. But if reports he is seeking $22 or even $20 million a season are correct, it's entirely possible he would not "get that payday" on the open market. That's not being cagey. But if it's insulting, well … he he.

Sam from Orlando, FL

The answer to the Jaguars' tight end problem is signing a tight end who has missed almost half of the NFL games he has been able to play in? A position already ravaged by injuries? As they say in the hit film Dodgeball. "Bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off for them."

Tight end was always going to be a tricky, outside-the-box position to address for the Jaguars this offseason. The Jaguars' salary cap and the lack of elite tight ends in the draft made it that way. Signing tight end Tyler Eifert is a risk because of his injury history, but it's a risk that fits their circumstance.

Alejandro from Mexico City, Mexico

Just for fun, don't lose our tradition of wasting money in quarterbacks … Bring back Blake Bortles and Blaine Gabbert!!!

Shad Khan … hire this man!

Bob from Sumter, SC

Suppose Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown are both off the board at No. 9 and a highly-rated left tackle is available. Do you think the Jaguars would make that selection if he's the highest-rated player on their list?

I don't consider this the Jaguars' ideal scenario, but I wouldn't rule this out. The team doesn't consider offensive line a glaring need, but neither are the Jaguars good enough there to overlook potential greatness.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

I get that the recent signing of middle linebacker Joe Schobert improves the Jags at two linebacker spots with Myles Jack moving to the weak side. But by that same token, doesn't that mean that the Jaguars used a third-round pick last year on a backup 4-3 outside linebacker? Quincy Williams can't play SAM, can he?

Yes, Williams probably will be a backup weak-side linebacker – unless he moves to safety. No, he can't play strong-side linebacker.

Fred from Naples, FL

Any reason why the Nick Foles trade hasn't been officially announced?

The Chicago Bears haven't finalized their contract with Foles, and they therefore haven't announced it. When the Bears announce the trade, the Jaguars will, too.

Kyle from Centreville, VA

Why aren't we bringing Devonta Freeman in for a look at running back? We need the depth and we could give him a prove it deal. I don't understand why this hasn't been explored.

Who's to say the Jaguars haven't explored signing Freeman? The Jaguars consider pretty much every available player. Sometimes, they sign them. Most of the time – for reasons often related to salary, injury or performance – they do not. Freeman is indeed talented and obviously has been productive when healthy. But he has a long injury history, particularly as it relates to concussions, and teams must start there when considering signing him.

Chad from Jacksonville

What are the chances the Jags re-sign defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on a one-year deal or smaller contract given he's still on the market? Would mirror Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell's usual free-agent decisions to not pigeonhole us to a need (DT/NT) at No. 9.

The Jaguars like Dareus and Head Coach Doug Marrone has a long history with him. If Dareus is healthy, available and affordable, the Jaguars would have no problem with re-signing him.

Rudi

Why have the Jags not cut wide receiver Marqise Lee yet?

Because they don't have to. And because maybe they don't want to?

Brian from Jacksonville

It's beginning to look like the Jaguars' moves in free agency might signal a selection for the offense at the top of this year's draft. If so, do you think they'll go all in on Gardner Minshew II at quarterback, and select an offensive tackle or wide receiver? Is there a quarterback this year the Jaguars covet enough to try and move up? What offensive tackles or wide receivers – if any – do you think the Jags might be targeting at the top of this year's draft?

With the exception of middle linebacker Joe Schobert, nothing the Jaguars have done in unrestricted free agency will alter what they do in the 2020 NFL Draft. The rest of the signings are capable players who can play contributing roles if needed but they are in no way etched in stone as starters next season. I still expect the Jaguars to go defense early in the draft, but offensive tackle and wide receiver are real enough needs that selecting one wouldn't be a shock.

Chris from Space City, TX

At this point, it's clear that you refuse to acknowledge the ineptitude of David Caldwell. Your go-to is to point out that it was all former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin's failures because he had final say. The question is what was Caldwell's responsibilities during Coughlin's three years? If he was a "GM" with no power over player personnel, what was his role with the team? I realize you are unlikely to give any real insight or criticism on current Jaguars' front office. You were the same way defending grumpy Coughlin until he was canned, then you had no problem saying this circus was all his fault. It's a fair question for fans to know Caldwell's role. I will wait to after he is released for you to bash him and tell us how ineffective and horrible he was.

I've never said everything that happened around the Jaguars the last two seasons was all Coughlin's fault. I have pointed out often – and correctly – it's fair to remember Coughlin had final say over football matters. The thing with having final say is the decisions pretty much become, you know … your responsibility. Either way … you keep being you. And remember: Never hold back. Express your sassy self.

Roger from London, UK

Mr. O. Is answering questions from Jags fans on O-Zone a fulltime job? Do you try keep yourself amused by sometimes seeing how weird a word - like "discombobulate" - you can use without it being commented on? Do you hide coded messages in your answers, so for example we should be collecting up all the first letters of every sentence in your replies to find a hidden message? Just want to check that you're enjoying being the voice of the franchise!

No, the O-Zone isn't my fulltime job – as evidenced by a quick perusal of other content on this free website and our Jaguars social-media channels. And no – I don't intentionally use weird words or codes to challenge the readers; both myself and the readers find it challenging enough to keep up with one another without silly games. As for enjoying being the voice of the franchise … that's not my role, but I do I enjoy the job. Particularly on days when Chris sends me emails.

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