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O-Zone: Just play them

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jon from Jax Beach

Part of me says pay Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence now before the market resets after another season or two. The other part of me says he's under control for two more seasons and we should spend elsewhere to try to win in his first contract window. What say you?

This is now the Great Unresolved Topic of the Jaguars' 2024 offseason – and as such, it is being debated endlessly these days. But the sides reportedly are talking extensively with no public reports of strife, which indicates a deal could happen comparatively soon – which likely means the debate is for naught and that Lawrence will sign a top-of-the-quarterback market extension sometime before the start of the 2024 season. All that's speculation, but that's the vibe – and that would follow the time frame of other "franchise-defining" quarterbacks. We can debate and discuss this all we want, I suppose, but the debate and discussion won't change the happening. And while I understand your point that you can theoretically keep Lawrence on a "controllable" contract for two seasons, that's not how it's done. That approach would beget controversy, speculation and uncertainty – and it also would allow the quarterback market to skyrocket before he signs a deal. No, this is not a black-and-white issue. And there are theoretical reasons to wait and take advantage of the salary cap around Lawrence. But in reality, the Jaguars are approaching Lawrence as if he's a foundation quarterback. And if you believe your quarterback is a foundation quarterback, you commit to him when it's time to do so.

Thomas from section 125 from Jacksonville aka DUUUVAL

Hey, Ozone. How would you feel giving Trevor Lawrence a contract worth $250 million with $200 guaranteed with mediocre record at quarterback? I'm not sold on him just yet to invest that much money! It's like how he invested his whole rookie contract in bitcoin and lost out. I would give him a backup quarterback contract: $100 million over four years $50 million guaranteed. He doesn't deserve elite money. Everybody sees it but the fan base. That's a huge risk! This year is a make-or-break year for Trevor. And if we go 4-13, I'm burning my Trevor Lawrence jersey and buying a Josh Allen jersey, a guy who earned his contract that wasn't given to him.

So much passion, so little thought to reality. Lawrence didn't invest his entire rookie contract in bitcoin. And while the Jaguars theoretically could offer Lawrence a "backup quarterback contract," why in the world would he sign it? Yes, there will be speculation involved on the Jaguars' part if they sign Lawrence to a top-of-the-market contract. And where there's speculation, there is a level of risk. The NFL is full of these risks. I suspect most NFL teams would accept this risk. I expect the Jaguars will, too.

Troy from Dover, PA

Can you refrain from any mentioning of Trevor Lawrence in your little fan forum until the comment section can come to some agreement of how good he actually is?


Paul from Lake City

Heading into the 2023 season, it seemed that General Manager Trent Baalke largely stood pat on a line that many observers felt needed upgrading. Other than replacing our departing right tackle with Anton Harrison, the rest of the starting line remained unchanged. This offseason, the biggest change on the offensive has been adding center Mitch Morse and re-signing other starters. Has Baalke done enough?

The Jaguars see this a bit differently because they see re-signing Ezra Cleveland at least somewhat as adding a new starter. This is because he joined the team after the trade deadline last season and played through a knee injury much of the time after that. But that's nitpicking. Have the Jaguars done enough to address the offensive line this season? We'll learn soon enough.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

I have waited 15 years for the throwbacks. Please just give me a month.


Joe from Jacksonville

Are you looking forward to the new stadium? Do you like the new mini cities such as SoFi, or are you a minimalist that believes in keeping the old school vibe such as Green Bay?

I'm not trying to be the cynical, seen-everything guy here, but the niceness and style of a given stadium don't affect me too much. I enjoy covering a game at old-school Green Bay the same as I do covering a game modern stadiums such as Los Angeles and Atlanta. This is mainly because my game-day experience typically is limited to getting to and from the locker room/press box/team buses – and all NFL stadiums these days are nice enough where that's a comparatively "enjoyable" experience. This has not always been the case. When I first began covering the NFL, there were some stadiums aged that the experience at times could be comparatively unpleasant. Those days are long since passed. Remember, too: There really aren't many "old-school" vibes at NFL stadiums these days. There's pretty much Green Bay, Green Bay and Green Bay. And Green Bay. And make no mistake: Green Bay may be old-school but it has been renovated enough that it's a great experience.

Zach from Jacksonville

The New York Giants celebrate 100 years this year. In that time the Giants have four NFL championships and four Super Bowls. Will the Jaguars be in Jacksonville in 2093? How many Super Bowl titles will they have? How many Mega Bowl titles will they have? Will the 94-year old Trevor Lawrence be co-owner of the team? Will the O-Zone still be answering questions?

I am 57 and plan to live at least sixty more years. I am optimistic about the Jaguars' being in Jacksonville through my lifetime. I haven't the foggiest idea about the next three answers. I plan to retire sometime in the 2080s. I don't expect the streak to last quite that long.

Eric from Jacksonville Beach

For all the hate Baalke gets, I don't know that there's enough attention for the work he's done with resigning players. That was a long-standing frustration with the fans, saying we could never keep players in-house and they said that was their priority a few years ago. I'm not saying he's batting 100 percent but, by my count, he has re-signed left tackle Cam Robinson, edge Josh Allen, linebacker Foye Oluokun and guard Ezra Cleveland – and all the talk is that's happening with Trevor soon, too. Feels like a far cry from where we used to be from my view.

You could have finished your first sentence in a few ways. Baalke gets some "hate" from fans, and he gets too little credit for a few things. One is the fact that the Jaguars have had winning records the past two seasons after recording just one such season in the previous decade. Another is that the Jaguars now have a much stronger roster than the one he inherited in 2021. Still another indeed is that the Jaguars have been much better re-signing players during his tenure than in previous seasons. None of this is to say Baalke has been perfect as general manager. But you're absolutely correct that there seems to be a faction of O-Zone readers/Jaguars observers who believe he can do right. That's just not a fair assessment.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

I'm fast reaching the point where I just dislike you.


Brian from Carlisle, PA

O, This time of year keeps getting comical. All of these experts that get paid a lot of money to tell fans their team will be at this level or that. The sheer fact of trying to predict the results of a 17-game season is not only a waste of time, but is actually hurting fans as they get hyped up and let down ... only one team can win the Super Bowl out of 32 teams. I say it again enjoy each week each game as what their intended for entertainment.

I agree with your point to this extent: Trying in May to project a 17-game schedule that ends in January is folly and impossible. But I don't know that it "hurts" fans or that it's an awful thing if they are hyped up and down. Fans are supposed to get excited. And angry. And irrational. This is entertainment, an emotional outlet. I'm not saying some fans aren't a bit over the top and extreme. I'm not saying an argument can't be made that some fans take it too seriously. But so what? Let them take it seriously. You enjoy games your way. Other fans enjoy it more emotionally, The good thing is that for the most part we're all enjoying it. Even when we're not. Or something like that.

Joe from Hall of Fame City, OH

Hello, Mr. O. I for one don't get the angst over the schedule. I mean if you're going to be good you have to beat good.