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O-Zone: Just because

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Marcus from Jacksonville:
What's the deal with Jason Babin opting out? Personally, I don't mind; I'm just confused as to why he would. I can't imagine he's going to make more anywhere else...he's 33 and is no longer seen as an "elite" pass rusher. Is this a situation where the team gave him a little advanced notice that he would be cut to give him a chance to leave on his terms and hit free agency early?
John: Defensive Jason Babin indeed opted out of the final two years of his contract Monday. He could do that because of a clause in his contract, which he originally signed with the Philadelphia Eagles before the 2011 season. When the Jaguars acquired Babin off waivers late in the 2012 season, they inherited that contract. Opting out made him a free agent, but the move really was more of a formality – and a mutual decision. Babin was due to make $6 million each of the next two seasons, which is more than the Jaguars were going to pay. Both sides knew this much from the beginning. If he hadn't declared free agency the team likely would have released him Tuesday. Babin said after the season he would like to return to Jacksonville. There's still a very real chance of that happening, though I wouldn't expect it to occur in the first few days of free agency.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
Chances Babin is back at a reduced price?
John: Not bad – I'd say, 50-50.
Sam from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I would love to sign Sidney Rice to a two-to-three-year deal to fix our receiving corps. Then, imagine if Blackmon got his act together? We could be dangerous. Mark me down as one fer Sid…
John: This is not a knock on Sidney Rice, who was released by the Seattle Seahawks last week. He once had more than 1,300 yards receiving in a season so he certainly is a capable player. But he also has fewer than 500 yards receiving in five of his seven NFL seasons and he has played a full season just once in his last four seasons. Is he a good player? Yes. Would he "fix" the Jaguars receiving corps? Probably not.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
Since we've seen some moves on the d-line, do you see the Jags making any moves in the secondary or linebacker positions?
John: I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jaguars pursue a cornerback in free agency.
Keith from Jacksonville:
Sooner or later, the Jags will have to go on a spending spree. If they are $60 millionish-under a $135 million cap, they are only using about 55 percent of the cap. They have to average 89 percent over a four-year period. So to reach that average, they would have to spend pretty close to the cap at the latest by next year, or am I missing something?
John: No, you're pretty much on target, though I'd be careful about assuming there will be a "spree." First off, the Jaguars aren't going to be $60 million under the cap this season; there is a lot of free agency remaining (actually, all of it is pretty much remaining). But yes, the Jaguars will have to spend more in the coming offseasons than they did last offseason to meet the cap "floor." I don't expect them to find that difficult.
Adam from New York, NY:
Should the Jags be expecting any compensatory picks this year? I would think Knighton and maybe Cox (at least his contract) could warrant one.
John: Don't hold your breath. I doubt the Jaguars get any compensatory selections this offseason. The compensatory selections are decided by a formula that involves weighing a team's free-agents lost versus free agents signed. Contracts and season awards weigh heavily into the equation – mostly contracts. The contracts of Cox and Knighton probably aren't enough to sway the formula in the Jaguars' favor.
Mark from High Springs:
I have an irrational fear that the new video boards will be blown down by the first big storm of hurricane season. (Heck, I'm afraid to clean my HDTV with tap water.) Alleviate my fears, and tell me about how sturdy and robust our new toy is.
John: It's about $60 million worth of specular robustness. Don't worry about the boards. They'll be fine.
Jack from Jacksonville:
Plenty of teams have been burned because they felt they "had to" draft a quarterback with their first pick. Oakland in 2007 felt like they had to draft a QB and took JaMarcus Russell over Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Darrelle Revis. We need David Caldwell to draft who he thinks is the best player for us with the Jags first pick. I don't think anyone in this class is aJaMarcus Russell, but that's the danger in reaching too far for a quarterback.
John: That's absolutely the case, and that's the vibe you get these days speaking to Caldwell. It's fine for fans and media to talk about "Have To's" in the draft, but the general manager is the person steering the franchise, and it's him who has to have a long-term vision.
Paul from Chatahoochie:
This is a great time of the year for Jaguars football. It allows we the fans to see who is an "on-the-ledge-ready-to-jump" fan and those who are in the upper tier of NFL intellect of roster construction. The Jaguars fan base is littered with couch GMs with little knowledge of the true state of last year's roster. The Jaguars were at the bottom of the barrel in overall talent and it is amazing they were able to pull off four wins as I see it. What would it take to educate some of these cliff-jumpers?
John: Oh, I don't know, Paul – I'm sort of past the point where I get upset when fans don't have a comprehensive grasp of every in and out of building an NFL roster. Most fans have a limited amount of time to invest in knowing what's going on with sports – even fans who follow passionately. And most fans want to win and want to win now. Those fans will be vocal in the coming weeks when one of the other 31 teams in the NFL sign a familiar name and they'll call the Jaguars cheap and other unseemly names. They'll probably even call me names, too. That's OK. I mean, I'll cry a little bit and utter a panicky, sniffly retorts, but overall, I think we'll all be OK.
Don from Richmond, KY:
Is there a true nose tackle on the team? Tyson and Red appear to be good fits as 3-4 ends, don't you think?
John: Alualu and Bryant would be good fits as 3-4 ends, but remember: the Jaguars aren't necessarily trying to build a true 3-4 defense. They're trying to build Gus Bradley's scheme, which is more of a hybrid, but which also adapts to its personnel. There's no true nose tackle in the sense of a Vince Wolfork-type of player, but players such as Red Bryant and Roy Miller are big enough to stuff the run. Bradley likes players with versatility on the front seven, and you'll see players who can play multiple roles.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
Keeping Uche would not have had any impact on our cap space in three-to-four years. Last year I watched Daryl Smith leave and play great and we know he is a great role model. The two outside linebackers we have today will not be here when we become a playoff team. I think Dave is doing a good job but sometimes we may have a difference of opinion.
John: Absolutely opinions will differ. That's always going to be the case when people are passionate about an NFL team, which has at least 53 different decisions to make each season with many reasons going into each decision. We've talked the Daryl Smith decision to death here in the O-Zone. I've said many times I would have kept Smith, but that's an easy thing to say looking back on it. A guy entering his 10th season coming off of a season in which he missed 14 games with an injury … history suggests that players will have a difficult time remaining healthy … but moving on from Smith, Nwaneri is a different scenario. The Jaguars decided they needed to overhaul the offensive interior. The decision was based more on that objective than cap space.
Greg from Section 233 and Jacksonville:
What's the status of Cecil Shorts III? It's been kind of quiet. He's a FA, right?
John: No.
Andrew from Section 440:
I like Chad and all, but never before have I seen such praise for a guy that took this team to 4-12.
John: I don't know that the Jaguars have been overly effusive in their praise of Henne. They've said he will be a bridge to the future, and they've said that he played well enough that they believe the offense can improve around him if they add an explosive skill player and improve the offensive line. They've actually been pretty measured in their praise.
Donny from Jacksonville:
Why, why, why O-Man???? We're still dying to know???
John: Even if I knew, I wouldn't tell you.

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