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O-Zone: Just too good

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Trace from Jacksonville:
I'm a little confused why teams give contract extensions a year before contracts expire. I know teams may want to avoid Mojo-esque holdouts, but when I think of teams like the 49ers, who recently gave their quarterback an extension, why wouldn't you want your player to have a contract year? Players typically play better in such years.
John: There are nuances to this issue. While players indeed sometimes have huge seasons in so-called "contract seasons," there also are players self-motivated enough that their performances don't change significantly in contract years. But your question was about what motivates a team to give a contract extension before a contract expires. That's simple: if you wait until the player is about to hit free agency, then you know what that player might do? He might actually hit free agency and then you risk losing a player that you presumably believe is critical to your core. If you are committed to that player and want to avoid the possibility he might become a free agent, then it's a wise move to extend the contract before the contract expires.
Lee from Fleming Island, FL:
Are you aware that there is a striking resemblance between yourself and Michael Moore? Of course, he would have to lose quite a few pounds if he wants to look exactly like you.
John: #quiteafew
Paul from Jacksonville:
Caldwell says we're going to primarily build through the draft and use free-agency in a smart, limited way. What do we see? The Jags are apparently building primarily through the draft and using free agency in a smart, limited way. Caldwell says that Bortles will play behind Henne until he's ready to start. What do we see? Mass confusion.
John: I don't know that I see mass confusion on the Bortles-Henne issue, because from what I can tell the Jaguars are doing exactly what they have said they were going to do. I suppose you're talking about how fans and perhaps national media are seeing the issue. Many in those circles seem to be poking holes in the Jaguars' plan and looking for nuances and multiple scenarios. You can avoid the confusion by remembering a simple if-then scenario: if Bortles is ready, he will start; if he's not, he will not.
Tim from Kingsland, GA:
Johnny Football being drafted by the Padres raises a question. How can a professional athlete in one sport be drafted by a team in another sport (i.e. Russell Wilson and Johnny Football)? I kinda understand Johnny because I do not think he has signed his contract yet, but Wilson was under contract and a Super Bowl champion … how does it work? I also understand if a player wants to switch sports – say Deion Sanders and Michael Jordan – but one who is firm in their sport being drafted by another, how does it work and how is it legal?
John: A professional team can draft whoever it wants. The issue arises when the player must decide which sport he wants to play. A baseball team drafting an NFL player, for example, is doing so so that it has the player's rights should the player give up football. In some cases, the NFL team might allow the player to play baseball in the football offseason, but those cases are rare these days. The legality issue depends on what the player negotiates with the teams.
Darrell from Starke, FL:
It's probably posted somewhere, but what's next after veteran minicamp? (re: Jaguars practice)
John: The Jaguars' veteran minicamp is June 17-19, with the first two days open to the public. The next on-field activities after that will be training camp.
Chris from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Blake Bortles hasn't signed his contract yet. Does the team give him an advance on all of his current expenditures, or does his agent cover that until he gets officially signed? Also, do players have their own medical insurance that they pay for, or does the team cover any surgeries and stuff they need? Thanks.
John: The team does not give unsigned players advances, though they do pay players a per diem and cover meals and lodging. And while I don't know Bortles' specifics, players often get short-term loans if they are early-round selections with the idea that their signing bonuses will easily cover it. As far as unsigned draft selections, teams provide standard injury protection for that situation.
David from Macclenny, FL:
I'm not worried about the team like others, but I'm not sure the video boards will be ready by July 15. Any penalties for not finishing on time? Like senior writers have to help them finish?
John: I wouldn't worry much on this front. The amazing thing about large-scale construction projects is the same thing that's amazing about things that have deadlines. Somehow, someway, as the deadline approaches things get finished.
Rob from Jacksonville:
I just got back from graduating from USMC boot camp! I've been out of the loop for the past three months! Can you catch me up and give me a quick recap on all things Jaguars???
John: Good free agency. Veteran defensive lineman, solid running back, good value at linebacker – and oh, yeah, very solid offensive guard. Good draft, apparently. Crafty, poker-faced general manager. A lot of excited fans. Senior writer lost some weight, not enough. Shadrick's Shadrick, for better or worse. All in all, pretty good little offseason.
Jack from Missoula, MT:
How is the vibe around Jacksonville these days? I was down there for a game a couple years ago excited to finally be around some Jags fans. To my surprise there wasn't a whole lot of excitement around the organization from Duval. The new coaching staff seems to have brought some excitement to the area.
John: It's all good, Jack. It's all good.
Maybe I don't have a name from a town with a home in it:
Everybody's giddy nowadays, O … That's cool. I get it. We had a good draft. The media is showing us some love … blah...Keep it. I just want improvements all across the board, honestly. No more 28-2s, 37-3s again. I'll be happy with six wins. Just make sure it doesn't look like a soccer score when we lose.
John: In your dousing-water-on-it-all way, you in fact sum up a very realistic view of the season. The Jaguars do want improvement and being competitive in the majority of games next season would mark significant improvement. The giddiness that everyone is feeling is real, but it stems from a feeling that the foundation is being set for steady improvement over the long haul. What you are describing would qualify as steady improvement.
Cosmo from NY:
John: Inner confidence.
Mike from East Moline, IL:
Wouldn't Telvin Smith play weak side linebacker? I am probably mistaken, but I thought that the strong side linebacker (or Otto) plays over the tight end, and thus needs to be bigger and stronger. The weak side linebacker plays in space and needs to cover more area and use his speed. I thought Telvin Smith seemed to be a great fit for weak side linebacker. Am I thinking too much in terms of traditional 4-3?
John: You're thinking fine – and I probably didn't answer a question on this topic real clearly Saturday. The question was about Smith possibly starting ahead of Dekoda Watson. Right now, second-year veteran LaRoy Reynolds is working at the Otto with Dekoda Watson out because he has the ability to hold the edge against the run and rush the passer when the situation calls for it. Smith for now indeed would seem a more logical fit for now on the weak side, certainly until he adds size.
Jared from O-Town:
So here I am working behind my bar when this guy walks in wearing a Jaguars ball cap. Now me, being the resident Jaguar fan in the area, make it a point to say to my bar guests, "Hey look … I'm not the only Jags fan in here!" … to which the gentleman responded, "I'm not a bandwagon fan … I've been there since day one." Now, I'm not questioning his loyalty to the team, but I couldn't help but notice that after a 4-12 season that there are "bandwagon" fans out there. I think that says a lot to where Dave, Gus, and Shad are taking this team.
John: Bandwagon, hardcore, whatever … there's room on this ride.
Shawn back in J-Ville:
Since we're on the topic of electronic football, have you played the Tandy two-player electronic football game? It was too large to sneak into the school bags, but it was fun beating down the parents.
John: I remember a two-player game. I think I had it. I didn't enjoy it as much as the one-player game, but that may have been because my imaginary friend was really good at it.

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