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O-Zone: Just because

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Let's get to it …

Rick from Duval

I don't understand the reason for playing hardball with Yann for what was reported as a couple million a season. We overpaid guys that don't play for us anymore, and we can't even cut quarterback Nick Foles if we wanted to. I don't understand why we play hardball with guys like A Rob and Yann who are hard-working and productive, and we submit their salary demands to some sort of algebraic equation while we bid against ourselves for Foles. Pay our good players. Plus, it seems sensible to show you are rewarding your best. I just don't get it. Just pay the guy and let's move on.

A couple of thoughts on this. One is that while it's easy – and understandable – to criticize the Jaguars' handling of Foles and former quarterback Blake Bortles in recent offseasons, the reality is the quarterback position is handled differently from all other positions by pretty much every NFL team. That's true of salary-cap considerations and salary – and just about everything else about the position. The Jaguars' contracts with both players were reasonable for a veteran starter at the position – and had either worked out to be a consistent starter, both would have been comparatively cap-friendly contracts. As for former wide receiver Allen Robinson and current defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, they were both tricky situations. Robinson was coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament when he became an unrestricted free agent and turned down an offer from the Jaguars that was comparable – if not superior – to that offered by the Chicago Bears; the Jaguars in that case decided not to pay elite-receiver, top-of-the-market money to a player they didn't believe to be an elite receiver. The Ngakoue situation in that sense is similar to the Robinson situation. Ngakoue if recent reports are correct is seeking a $22 million-per-year contract that would make him one of the NFL's highest-paid defensive ends. Ngakoue has been very good for the Jaguars in four seasons, and he deserves to be well paid. But has he been elite? Has he been the best pass-rusher on his own team? Those are questions that make the Ngakoue situation tricky – trickier than just saying "Pay Yann" and moving on.

Jason from Salem, OR

Jaguars getting another quarterback? I say that if there is opportunity for another quarterback IN THE DRAFT (a.k.a., a healthy, 100-percent-cleared-and-tested Tua Tagovailoa) go for it! No more paying big-(dead-cap) quarterbacks. Yeeesssshhhhhhh! #DTWD.


Joe from San Antonio, TX

What do you think the worst cheating scandal in the NFL was? I think it has to be Bountygate, although some people I work with would rather point fingers at the New England Patriots.

For cheating scandal, I would to say Spygate with the Patriots and BountyGate with the New Orleans Saints were close – though it perhaps speaks to the difficulty of cheating in the NFL that neither were league-shaking situations to the point of significantly hurting the perception of the game's integrity. Perhaps the league's most significant scandal is now largely forgotten by many younger fans, and that was the gambling scandal that resulted in Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras and Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung being suspended for a year in 1963. Those were two elite superstars – including a Heisman Trophy winner -- suspended for the same season. That's rare stuff.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

In regards to Ngakoue re-signing, how much do you think the following things are influencing this situation? First, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and associated tags not being ratified yet. Second, the situation in Jacksonville as far as team quality and potential for success. He has to be looking at this team and seeing the lack of success. Is there the potential he has a "Ramsey-"like perception about it where he believes his incredible talent is being wasted on a roster that doesn't win? Money is great but at his stage in his career I am betting rings are becoming a consideration also.

I'm not a mind-reader, so I'll preface this by saying I don't pretend to know precisely what influences Ngakoue's decision-making. I do believe he for the most part likes playing in Jacksonville and don't believe he is predisposed to leaving. I would guess he is mostly motivated by money, as is the case for most players in his situation – and as absolutely should be the case for players in his situation. An NFL player gets relatively few chances at life-changing money, and this is Ngakoue's chance. There's absolutely nothing wrong with him doing whatever he can to maximize that chance.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Sounds like Yan is pricing himself out of Jax. He is not worth $22 million per year.

We'll see.

Spazman from Jacksonville

Zone - I'm confused by something. You stated in one of your responses recently, that Cam Robinson played pretty well at left tackle except for struggling with holding penalties. Doesn't an offensive lineman hold BECAUSE he got beat on the play? So, doesn't that equate to actually being beat and therefore when added to the times he actually did get beat clean, meaning that maybe he did not really play so well after all?

Not really. First, the response you're referencing was about Jaguars right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who indeed did play well as a rookie for the most part last season despite leading the NFL in holding penalties? How could he play and still struggle with penalties? A couple of ways. First, because Taylor was a rookie it's fair to judge him a little differently than you would a veteran. He had some technique issues to resolve moving forward, but he played very well for a rookie. Second, holding isn't always about getting beat. In Taylor's case, coaches said some of his issues were about cleaning up those aforementioned techniques. Once he does that, the feeling is he will be very good. Was Taylor great last season? No. That's why he didn't make All-Pro. But he played well overall despite the penalties.

Sonny from Melbourne, FL

I am assuming that when the media talks about using the franchise tag on Yannick Ngakoue, they are referring to the non-exclusive franchise tag. Is it probably the team could use the transition tag on him?

Yes, when the media refers to the "franchise tag" it more often than not means the non-exclusive tag. The exclusive tag means no other team can negotiate with that player whereas the non-exclusive tag allows other teams to negotiate with the player. The most likely scenario is probably the Jaguars using the non-exclusive franchise tag.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

What are the requirements regarding position labeling and the franchise tag? Such as in an alternate reality Head Coach Doug Marrone announced over the last few weeks they planned on moving Yan to outside linebacker. Obviously, the tag is lower, but is that even a legal scenario in regard to the cap figure? Just wondering, as I read the Ram are likely using the tag on former Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. as an outside linebacker.

The franchise-tag process requires teams to designate a player by position, and this usually is clear-cut because most players play the vast majority of snaps at one position. It can get vague for players such as tight ends who also lineup at receiver and – for teams that play a lot of 3-4 or hybrid defenses – defensive end/linebackers who split time at these spots. This shouldn't be the case with Ngakoue, primarily because the Jaguars essentially have played a 4-3 during his time here and Ngakoue mostly has played defensive end.

Mark from Archer, FL

John, I hope the Jags do not draft linebacker/safety Isaiah Simmons of Clemson. Not because I think he is a bad player, but I am reading he can play all the linebacker positions and be moved all over the place. The same sort of things were said about Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack before the draft also. I just don't think the coaching staff knows how to effectively use that kind of talent. Give me defensive tackle, offensive lineman or if by some miracle gift a projected elite top-level corner with our first pick.

While Jack struggled at times last season, that perception that he was not a good selection or that he is a bad player is dramatically overblown. Much of Jack's issue last season was trying to make up for a young, inexperienced player beside him – then-rookie Quincy Williams – and that's not a case of the coaches not being able to effectively use talent. Either way, I agree that offensive line and/or defensive tackle feel like the way to go for the Jaguars early in the 2020 NFL Draft. They must stop the run better and be stouter up front offensively. That's where it must start.

Jim from Jacksonville

Would you please stop saying "life-changing money" for these fat contracts? Every player has life changing money as soon as they're paid to play.

No, I won't stop saying it because I don't feel like it.