JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Joe from Jacksonville
With the loss of Gunter and Woods, would you consider Dave trading Yannick for a defensive lineman or two? Doug said that the team isn't in "scramble mode" yet, but these are two huge losses and Yannick can field a couple of strong big bodies up front. What do you think? I hope you're well by the way, John.
When it comes to defensive tackle, the Jaguars now must consider all options. Defensive lineman Rodney Gunter retired Sunday because of an enlarged aorta and defensive tackle Al Woods opted out early in 2020 Training Camp because of COVID-19. They were the two veterans signed as unrestricted free agents this past offseason to provide bulk and depth for an interior run defense that struggled mightily last season. The Jaguars currently aren't completely devoid of talent there. They signed Timmy Jernigan this week as an unrestricted free agent, and they selected DaVon Hamilton in Round 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft. They also have Taven Bryan and Abry Jones there. If those four players play up to expectations – and if middle linebacker Joe Schobert provides the upgrade to the linebacker corps the team expects – this could still be an improved run defense. That said, Head Coach Doug Marrone did mention the option of a trade this past Monday to bolster the area – and he did so after the Jaguars had acquired Jernigan. I still would be surprised if Ngakoue is traded because the element that made trading him difficult before – his eventual contract demands with another team – will still make it difficult. I believe you will see General Manager David Caldwell make moves after cutdown day here. That could mean a cutdown-day trade or simply acquiring players released by other teams. But while that's my expectation here, anything's possible. The losses at defensive tackle have been extreme, and the need to be stouter on the interior remains very real and pressing. (And by the way, I'm great. Everything is just *%$^% rosy.)
Gary from St. Augustine, FL
Seriously, now Aaron Lynch retires?
It does seem the hits just keep on coming. A day after Gunter announced he was stepping away from football, Lynch – a defensive end/linebacker who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from Chicago this past offseason – did the same thing. Whereas Gunter stepped away for medical reasons, it's less clear exactly why Lynch made his decision – though reportedly it is for personal reasons. The Jaguars are in a little better situation to withstand this loss; they are comparatively deep at edge rusher. However, if Ngakoue doesn't play this season …
Sean from Jacksonville
Is anything in place for players who retire for personal reasons when it's really for COVID-19 and then unretiring when they're comfortable coming back? I mean, it seems such an easy out after the COVID-19 opt-out ended.
Players certainly can do this, though they won't get paid or receive a stipend for the 2020 season if they do. Is that right for players do this? Probably not. You can't legislate everything, I suppose.
Fabian from the Dominican Republic
Hey John, I watched Jernigan's interview and I noticed that he has a big chip on his shoulder and seems excited to join the team. This may be extremely premature, but I have a feeling that this could be a low-profile signing that might pay big dividends in the future. Thoughts?
Jernigan does appear motivated. A graduate of Lake City (Fla.) Columbia High School near Jacksonville, Jernigan also spent time in Jacksonville in elementary school; for that reason, he is genuinely excited to be playing for the Jaguars. As far as his impact, that remains to be seen. He has been an effective player through much of his career, and he has dealt with foot and back issues in recent seasons. He said Monday those injuries won't be an issue this season. If he's correct, he could be a very good player and an important signing. Stay tuned.
Nicholas from Rockville
Can we panic now?
It's never too early or late to panic. Ever.
The Other Michael from Middleburg, FL
Is it just me, or is every player we signed as a FA to bolster our porous run defense gone now? I hope Hamilton is a Pro Powler as a rookie. Otherwise, it's going to be another long, long year for the defense.
It's not just you. Gunter and Woods were the Jaguars' major free-agent signings to improve the run defense. I don't know that Hamilton – who the Jaguars like very much – has to be a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie, but he sure needs to contribute and be better than most rookies at the position.
Marty from Jacksonville
What is the prognosis for tight end Josh Oliver? How soon could he come back?
To be determined.
David from Orlando, FL
KOAF - I read an article recently about a team saying they should trade for Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. In the article, the writer says something to the effect that the Jaguars want a lot in return, and they will likely not let him go for less. I appreciate GM Dave Caldwell and the Jags organization for sticking to their guns, and not giving into the pressure of unloading a player, for less than he's worth, just because he's ready to move on.
I don't know the article, but I would be surprised if the writer indeed knew exactly what the Jaguars want in return for Ngakoue. Few people outside the organization know this. I also would be surprised if they knew much about the dynamics between Ngakoue and the Jaguars – or how the Jaguars see their needs and long-term personnel/salary-cap situations. I still don't get a sense the Jaguars feel much pressure to trade Ngakoue. We'll see.
Steve from Somewhere in the Lower 48
Could a current college senior who just had their season moved to spring just quit school and try to get on an NFL squad? Could they bet on themselves with a free agent deal fort one year and circumvent the current restrictions of rookie contracts?
No, college seniors – or any college players – may not do this. They will have to enter the NFL next offseason through the NFL Draft and post-draft process.
Micah from Chicago
Wait, you have a podcast? Why didn't you tell me? I really want to listen. Anyway... Minshew had issues with ball security last year. While he looks good in camp so far, at what point do you think he'll really be tested on his improvement in that area?
Yes, I have a podcast. It's on this free website and equally free app (feel free to check it out sometime). Anyway … Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew did have issues with ball security last season, but he improved dramatically in this area – particularly by reducing his fumbles – when he returned to the starting lineup in December. He showed better awareness and did a better job securing the ball when under pressure late in the season. It was yet another example of Minshew being very coachable and diligent in areas that he can control. There's no doubt that Minshew will work as hard and as intelligently as possible to become a franchise player. If he fails, it won't be because of a lack of effort. The big questions are size and arm strength – and whether he can continue to improve with pocket presence and awareness. There's no way to know … well, until we know.
Julio from Southern California
What is the soonest Josh Allen can be signed to an extension?
Drafted players can sign contract extensions following their third NFL season, so after the 2021 season.
Rad from Orange Park, FL
So I didn't realize my boss had sent me a text – and when he asked me if I saw it and I told him I hadn't, he said what I thought was "Josh Allen done for the year." So I reply in rant something along the line of "Good God and we have a question mark in Ngakoue on top of all the other absenteeism our defensive line now features and Oehser says Marcell Dareus coming back is a dream that won't come true." After coming to realize it was Josh Oliver, however … while I root for the kid, if for no other reason he's a Jaguars player and has the ability to potentially contribute to there being less agony sustained in watching our beloved home town team's offense ... especially it being in comparison to having lost Josh Allen ... eh, "nothing lost nothing gained" yeah? And I was inclined to make a crack about it showing that Eifert really was rubbing off on Oliver … but it just didn't really roll off on to the page - or screen.
You know what's awesome? When you're doing your job, and people share things that happened to them in their day. That really rocks.