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O-Zone: Just not right

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dave from Los Angeles, CA

Low-key excited about the D'Ernest Johnson addition. Every time that guy saw the field, he looked legit to me. Didn't see the field much behind Chubb and Hunt.

The Jaguars signed Johnson as an unrestricted free agent Thursday. A running back who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Johnson indeed is an intriguing "second-wave" free-agency signing. He has played enough in the NFL to have a proven body of work. He flashed at times with the Browns while playing behind Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, perhaps the league's best running-back combination in recent seasons. Johnson's best opportunity came in 2021, when he rushed for 534 yards and three touchdowns on 100 carries. When he spoke with him Thursday, he emphasized that he has no wear and tear from his NFL career to date. "I still feel young; no mileage," he said. This feels like exactly the sort of signing the Jaguars needed: A player who gives them quality depth – and potential production in the event of an injury to starting running back Travis Etienne Jr. – without spending big in free agency or using a draft selection. It seems like a fit.

Sprinkle from Sacksonville

Tell me the mayor is coming back. Tell me the mayor is coming back. John, tell me the mayor is coming back. Hey, Zone: So, is Calais Campbell coming back? (Don't mess this up, Zone)

Defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who played for the Jaguars from 2017-2019 and who was released by the Baltimore Ravens last week after playing three seasons with that franchise, reportedly visited the Jaguars Thursday. He also reportedly has visited the Atlanta Falcons. It appears there is a chance Campbell will return to Jacksonville. There also is a chance he plays for Atlanta. Stay tuned.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

One fer re-signing Calais.

This would be a popular move. No one who knows or who has been around Campbell would say otherwise. It makes sense. While it's not fair to expect him to be the dominant force he was in his first stint in Jacksonville, he can play a role. We'll see if it happens.

Paul from St. Johns

I want Calais back.

You're not alone.

Ken from St Augustine, FL

Hi, O. I know it is way too early to predict the Jags' record. That said, I looked at our schedule and think we can win 12 or 13 games. Am I just an excited fan or are they that good? What do you think?

I think it's tricky to predict a team will win 12 or 13 games until it reaches that plateau. I also think the Jaguars are very capable of reaching that plateau if they stay comparatively injury-free, gain some needed consistency offensively and grow together in the second year in Head Coach Doug Pederson's system.

Mikayl from Tampa, FL

Any chance we see what the price is on DeAndre Hopkins? No shade to Zay Jones, but Ridley over the top, Hopkins to catch everything, and Kirk underneath seems dangerous. His contract is not terrible, and for a 2 or 3, why not?

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins reportedly could be traded this offseason. Considering the Jaguars' cap situation, and considering they already have four pass-catchers – wide receivers Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram – on cap-eating deals, it's extreeeeeeemely unlikely the Jaguars would pursue Hopkins.

Daniel from Johnston, IA

How much input/communication does Coach Pederson have on re-signing players? Is it entirely on General Manager Trent Baalke or do they discuss it? If Pederson were to say, 'Look we really need player X, I don't care about the cost, make it happen!' Would it happen?

First, you don't want a head coach saying, "I don't care about cost" and demanding such things. That's a quick way to salary cap problems. But Pederson has input on all player transactions. And he and the coaching staff certainly push for certain players to be pursued or retained – and if the coaching staff is passionate about a player, that is taken into strong consideration.

Ryan from Apopka, FL

What are your thoughts on Jalen Carter? Prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, there was zero chance the Jags would be able to get him. Now, after the combine and his Pro Day, there are some major red flags that could affect his draft status. If he were to drop outside of the top 15, would you take a chance on him? Has Pederson set the tone in the locker room enough in Year 1 where we could take a gamble on him? Would his former teammates in outside linebacker Travon Walker and cornerback Tyson Campbell be able to set him up for success in the NFL, and would veteran linebacker Josh Allen and the rest of the leaders on def be able to show him the NFL way?

These sorts of questions, while understandable, are all-but impossible for any observer and/or media member to answer – at least with any accuracy. This is because while media types/observers report/read/hear parts of these stories, we don't know all details – and we usually don't get a chance to speak extensively with people close to the player or incidents involving the player. University of Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter, who was initially projected to possibly be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, indeed reportedly will slide far lower than that in the draft because of multiple issues. He could even be available when the Jaguars select No. 24 overall. The biggest issue was his reported involvement in a fatal automobile accident, and another issue was his subpar conditioning/performance at his Pro Day this month. Would I be tempted by Carter at No. 24 absolutely? Yes. Will the Jaguars do their due diligence knowing he could be available? Sure. And the Jaguars' culture – as well as the presence of former teammates – couldn't hurt his chances of success. But without knowing far more about Carter as a person – without really investigating the aforementioned circumstances – it's impossible to say if the risk of taking him would be worth the reward.

Chris from Jacksonville

Did last year count towards Calvin Ridley's rookie contract? What is his contract situation and when would the team have to extend/re-sign him?

Ridley, acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons in November, was under NFL suspension in 2022. The year did not count toward Ridley's contract. Instead, the final year of his rookie contract – which would have been 2022 – tolled into 2023. That is the contract under which Ridley will play for the Jaguars in 2023. Ridley's contract is set to expire at the end of the 2023 League Year, so the Jaguars have until the start of the '24 league year to extend/re-sign him if they choose to do so.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

You keep saying be nice. But what has that gotten us? Laughingstock of the NFL, losing seasons. When we decide to stop being doormats and start being a little snarky, we get back in the playoffs and kicking teeth in. So what if some people get their feelings hurt? As one of my favorite characters used to say "Be nice, until it's time to NOT be nice." Now is that time. We need to get mean, lean and extreme to scare our opponents. They need hear the word DUUUUUVAL and a chill run down their spines while their backsides clench reflexively from the word. To also quote the great Tony Stark, "Is it better to be feared or respected? Is too much to ask for BOTH!" Okay stay classy DUUVAL! #NO_MORE_MR_NICE_FAN!

Your email suggests that Jaguars fans just started being snarky in the last few months. This interpretation of Jaguars fans behavior could be described as "debatable."

Bill from Jacksonville, FL

"Fans there (Los Angeles) won't tolerate a long rebuild – they want stars, they want success." John, nor will I, and so do I.

You're referencing a point I recently made on Jaguars Drive Time regarding the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles market. While every team and every fan base obviously covet stars and success, the thought by many observers is that Los Angeles is unique in that perspective. It's a market where the NFL has failed in the past, and many believed when the Rams returned there in 2017 they would need to spend big in free agency and have immediate success to draw interest in a market dominated by Major League Baseball, the NBA and many other entertainment options. They spent big and won a Super Bowl quickly, so they absolutely had success. Now, they appear to be in a rebuilding mode. What happens if the rebuild doesn't work and if an all-in approach doesn't have the desired results? I suppose someday we'll find out.

Derrick from Jacksonville

Where did it all go wrong?

I wish I knew.