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O-Zone: Just the facts

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Seriously? The *$)$)#! franchise tag? They couldn't get a deal done and had to tag Josh? I don't get it. What up with that?

The Jaguars indeed on Tuesday announced they did not reach a long-term deal with outside linebacker Josh Allen and therefore placed the franchise tag on him to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent next Wednesday. The deadline to use the tag was Tuesday at 4 p.m. Allen now has the choice to sign the tag and play for a one-year guaranteed contract of $24(ish) million in 2024 – or to not sign the tag and not play. Because the Jaguars used the non-exclusive franchise tag, other teams may negotiate with Allen and sign him to a long-term deal. The Jaguars would then have the option of matching the offer and retaining Allen or not matching and gaining two first-round draft selections with Allen joining the other teams. A team signing Allen is extremely unlikely. No player has changed teams on the franchise tag in this manner since 2000, so Allen essentially will play for the Jaguars next season or not play. The Jaguars and Allen also can continue to work toward a long-term extension, which General Manager Trent Baalke on Tuesday said in a statement remains the team's objective. I've said often I would sign Allen to a long-term deal. My thought is he's a safe re-signing because even when he doesn't compile huge sacks numbers, he consistently has provided good pressure and played well against the run. He's also the sort of player and person you want representing your franchise. That's my thought without knowing Allen's contractual demands. There are other issues within this issue and I assume fans will have questions, complaints and thoughts. I expect the rest of this O-Zone and future O-Zones will be full of these questions, complaints and thoughts.

Jason from North Pole, AK

There is a lot of gnashing of teeth amongst Jaguars fans about tagging Josh Allen being an indicator of how terrible a general manager Baalke is. I fully expect them to sign him to a long-term deal later this year. I don't think they ever had any intention of using the tag for Calvin Ridley because of the second-round pick sacrifice it would bring. So then why all the panic? Am I missing something here?

Many Jaguars fans/observers are preconceived to criticize Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke these days, and that's fine: Fans preconceived whatever notion they like. I think the team wants to re-sign Allen. I would have re-signed Allen. Wanting to do those things and the numbers making sense within the context of the entire roster – and future seasons – isn't always the same thing. As for wide receiver Calvin Ridley, it has been difficult to get a feel for how the team would handle this. The sense now is he almost definitely will "hit the market," which means his representatives will discuss contracts with teams beginning in the NFL's "legal tampering window." That opens Monday at noon ahead of Wednesday's 4 p.m. opening of the 2024 NFL League Year. History tells us that high-profile players that "hit the market" seldom return to their previous team. But to clarify: Using the franchise tag on Ridley would have cost the Jaguars a third-round selection to the Atlanta Falcons as part of the 2022 trade that brought him to Jacksonville, not a second-round selection. So I don't think the draft compensation in the Ridley trade played into this scenario. It was more about needing the tag to retain Allen.

Micah from Chicago, IL

A good general manager doesn't procrastinate negotiating with your star pass rusher while giving up a third-round pick for just 17 games from the best wide receiver you've had since Jimmy Smith.


Crash from Glen Saint Mary

OZ! So, Darious Williams is gone. Which cornerback do you want to draft in the first round?

The Jaguars reportedly released cornerback Darious Williams and safety Rayshawn Jenkins Tuesday, one day after releasing defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi. Williams' departure means the Jaguars likely must acquire at least one front-line corner – and perhaps two – in either the draft or free agency this offseason. Tyson Campbell presumably will start at one corner as a fourth-year veteran next season, but you could see major equity spent to replace Williams and to attain a nickel corner. I therefore agree with your premise that a corner is the likely selection at No. 17 in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. I don't have a particular player I "want" there. I'd say there's a good chance players such as Quinyon Mitchell of Toledo or Terrion Arnold of Alabama or Ennis Rakestraw of Missouri are strong possibilities.

Ronnie from Jax Beach

Something to consider if somehow the season can be stretched one more week, the Super Bowl would fall on President's Day Weekend giving a lot of folks the day off following the Big Game.

What about people who work that day? They can kick rocks, I guess.

Jay from So-Cal

While looking at the latest Jags news, I heard about the way in which the team gave defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi a happy birthday shoutout then hours later cut him from the team. Sure seems like a public relations blunder that has a terrible look for the organization. What do you make of it, O-man?

It would have been better not to have given the birthday shoutout on the same day as his release. It was an action that was easy for those who enjoy doing such things to lampoon. More will be made out of it than what it is, I imagine, which is sort of the world we live in.

JK from NY & Fernandina Beach

John - The Jags made the correct move by tagging Josh Allen (The Real & Teal One). Allen will solidify the defense in the near term. He also has the potential to be a Jags Legend. A team's identity is shaped by its great players. If Allen contributes to bringing a Championship to Jax, he will have a home in Duval for life. Those are two things worth playing for. How important do you think it is to sign Allen for the future and give him a chance to be a Great?

I would sign Allen for the long term. My thought he he's the sort of player you want to be a long-term face of the franchise. I have thought this for some time.

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

Former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey managed to get paid for refusing to play by claiming a back injury. The injury miraculously went away as soon as he was traded. He does not belong in the Pride.

One not fer Ramsey.

Brian from ROUND ROCK, TX

The Jags stay true to form under Owner Shad Khan and don't pay up to re-sign key talent. The shiny new thing is always better under the wrath of Khan. Thanks to Jenkins, who notched two of the greateat plays in Jaguars history in his short tenure. Where does Jenkins rank in terms of impact?

Jenkins played three seasons with the Jaguars after signing as an unrestricted free agent in the 2021 offseason, and he indeed made two of the biggest plays in franchise history – an interception return for the game-winning touchdown in a 2022 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys and a sack/fumble that Allen returned for the game-winning touchdown that clinched the AFC South title in the 2022 regular-season-closing victory over the Tennessee Titans. Without those two plays, the magical run doesn't happen. That's big impact. There have been free-agent signings in this franchise's history that did much less.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

With Josh Allen receiving the tag, it seems Ridley is bound for elsewhere. Was the Ridley trade a bust?

Bust? No. If he's only here for one season at the cost of a third- and a fourth-round selection … it's probably disappointing more than disastrous in terms of trade value.

Bryan from Rip City

Yo, Grizz! How much risk would you be comfortable with in signing or re-signing free agents? For example, let's say a player is really good, but didn't learn the playbook during a long season, was previously suspended by the league, and left his previous team during a season for mental health reasons? Seems a risky gambit to pay the man 25 plus mill a year in a long-term contract. That's a lot of cheese for so much risk, no?

You're fairly accurately describing the decision the Jaguars must make regarding Calvin Ridley. Risk versus reward regarding player contracts is case by case and player by player. In the case of this player, I'm all for paying him. This statement is made not knowing how much Ridley and his representation are commanding. It's easy to be angry with the team for not making a deal. The anger is perhaps misplaced without knowing Ridley's price.