Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

O-Zone: Intolerable situation

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Marcus from Jacksonville

There's a narrative out there that Trent Baalke excels in free agency but is poor in the draft. What are your thoughts on that during his time as the Jaguars' general manager? It does seem like, outside of the two No. 1 overall picks, that the bulk of the production has come from free-agent acquisitions. But he also inherited a dumpster fire of a roster to try and turn around quickly, and the draft does not lend itself to quick turnarounds.

There's truth to this last sentence. My thoughts always have been that many Jaguars observers criticize Baalke too harshly – with some of that criticism perhaps based on a preconceived notion than on his performance. Whatever your thoughts on his specific free-agent acquisition or draft selections during his tenure as Jaguars general manager, the reality is Baalke inherited a weak roster that had the worst record in the NFL in back-to-back seasons – 2020 and 2021. The Jaguars in 2022 and 2023 turned in winning records in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2004 and 2005.

Joe from Jacksonville

Hello, John! Lot of discussion on the state of the offensive line in a recent O-Zone. Do you think the coaches/management see Cooper Hodges as starting quality? Do you? Or, did the injury last season occur too early to be able to get a feel?

The Jaguars selected Hodges, an offensive lineman from Appalachian State University, in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Jaguars feel strongly he is a starting-quality player. He also missed last season with a knee injury, which means more time is needed to know if the team's feeling about him is correct.

Mario from West Kelowna, BC

So now we should be angry at the owner of the team because he's raking up money instead of giving it away to players? If Shad Khan was to not be cheap, I would expect that the first thing he shall do is give you, John, a raise. You deserve it for putting up with these fans doing what fans do.

What's a "raise?"

Don from Marshall, NC

I think Calvin Ridley is a liar, liar pants on fire. He used the Jaguars to get his deal. It worked like a charm, I guess. Twice a year and let's see what happens!

When it comes to not being "all in" on former Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley, Don remains steadfastly and strikingly passionately, "all in."

Zach from Jacksonville

It's interesting how Chaisson signed with the Panthers and it was framed by Panthers fans as former first-round pick K'Lavon Chaisson. If I had to guess, Jaguars fans would not care about that moniker or how many games he has played in/started. Yet a guy like quarterback Mac Jones I see getting kudos from a few Jaguars media and fans because he's a first-round pick who has started some games. Blake Bortles had a lot of starts and was a first-round pick who took his team to the AFC Championship game and he's out of the league. Perspective is everything in life, I suppose.

Former Jaguars outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, the No. 20 overall selection by the team in the 2020 NFL Draft, indeed signed with the Carolina Panthers last week as an unrestricted free agent. I don't particularly care how Panthers fans received the news. Here's hoping Chaisson succeeds. I liked the guy.

Deane from Daytona Beach, FL

Yo, O-Zone! I have been looking at how this draft is shaping up for us, especially after our new Jags. Now I agree with you that cornerback is a definite need and I really think we could hold and get a corner that would check all the proverbial boxes without having to give up trade capital to move up and get him. I think that Wiggins and even DeJean would be the right fit for our defense. However, I think to keep our D-Line fresh we could use another stout body up front. I like Murphy, but I read an article that says Baalke prefers that our linemen have 33+" arms. This would negate some of the top D-linemen like Murphy, but his teammate T'Vondre Sweat does. Then I throw a monkey wrench in it all and say why not get another speedster WR like Worthy or get an inside lineman to have a backup for Scherff? What says you O-Zone?

Sounds like you're on it.

Hoss from Tallahassee, FL

While we know of all the significant offseason coaching changes the Jags have done recently, do you know of any changes to the Jags' scouting staff from last year? Also, would you agree that these scouts have a considerable influence on all – or most of all – of the players Baalke selects in the draft? Especially the further away you get from Round One.

I know of no significant changes to the Jaguars' scouting staff this offseason. Different scouts have different influence over the process. Area scouts are the first level of scouting, and are often information-gatherers as much as they are decision-makers. Decision-making responsibility typically is more the domain of the general manager, directors and national scouts.


How much influence does the coach have on who is brought in as a free agent or drafted? It seems there is a lot of discussion (particularly with Bill Belichick being let go from the New England Patriots) about the need to separate these functions, but it doesn't make sense to me. How many company CEOs have their direct reports selected by the board? The movie "Miracle" clearly demonstrates the benefit of the coach choosing the players he coaches. College coaches can do this with 80 plus people rosters, why can't NFL coaches do the same? Then it really would be coaching (assuming GM is competent).

The discussion about separating general manager and head coaching duties, and how much input head coaches have in personnel, is hardly new – and I suspect it will continue as long as there is professional football. Most coaches have some degree of influence on personnel, with personnel and coaching staffs meeting often to discuss prospects as free-agency periods and drafts approach. How much influence often depends on the situation and – in some cases – the specific player. Why don't more NFL coaches have more say? Or even total say? Being an NFL head coach is essentially a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job six months out of the year. Trying to head a personnel department while also being a head coach is a monumental task.

Zach from Jacksonville

Historically while rare, it isn't uncommon for an NFL team to fire their general manager and front office after NFL drafts. They have a year's worth of data and scouting on college players. Teams that re-set in January have to collect all the information on scouts in less time. With this many holes in the roster, it is hard to say Trent Baalke has been successful thus far. Any chance they move on from him in May?

The Jaguars have had winning records in back-to-back seasons, so if it's hard to say Baalke has been successful it's perhaps equally hard to say he has been a failure. It's rare for a general manager to be fired after a draft. What's not rare is for a new general manager hired in January to wait until after his first draft to make major changes to his staff. I expect Baalke to be the Jaguars' general manager next season.

Zachary from Washougal, WA

No question, just want to show some love to Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk. A lot of people made a fuss with the contract the Jags gave him, but he has delivered. I don't think it's a coincidence that the team fell apart when he went down. "One Fer Kirk."

The Jaguars went 1-5 after Kirk was lost for the season early in a Week 13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. I don't think his absence was the entire reason, but it sure wasn't a coincidence.

Fred from Naples, FL

Can you please explain what exactly "dead money" means and the impact it can have on signing free agents?

"Dead money" is the money on the salary cap from players no longer on the roster. Dead money accumulates on a team's cap when teams release players before contracts end. The prorated portion of "unplayed" seasons become dead money. For example, if a player signs a four-year deal with an $20 million signing bonus, $5 million of that bonus is assigned on the cap to each year. If the player is released after two years, $10 million of that bonus becomes dead money on the ensuing year's cap. It's a bit more complex than that, but that's the essence. Dead money limits your ability to sign free agents because it reduces your cap space in a given league year.

Scott from Jacksonville

What kind of promotion are you looking for? It seems like "Senior Writer" is the top of the pyramid where you are. "Super Senior Writer" maybe? Do they have those?

If saddled with this, it's best to tolerate it and try to reconcile your role in its existence. You don't promote it.