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O-Zone: Kiss off

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brian from Jacksonville

Big O, you’ve often written how the Jaguars are going to be forced to make some tough personnel decisions after this season. Which players do you currently see as core players who the team will keep almost no matter what? Will cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith, linebacker Myles Jack, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, running back Leonard Fournette, center Brandon Linder, left tackle Cam Robinson and guard Andrew Norwell all remain a part of this team for the long term? Do you see the team becoming more balanced over time as opposed to relying on being the best defense in the league?

This probably won’t be exactly the answer you want. That’s because there’s really no such thing as “keeping core players no matter what” – at least not for the duration of contracts. The foundations of NFL teams change very quickly in the salary-cap era, and it’s difficult to define “core players who the team will keep no matter what” because the answer depends on how long you’re thinking players will be kept. Ramsey obviously appears to be a player the Jaguars could keep for a decade or more; he’s that sort of generational talent. You probably also need to have Ngakoue and probably Jack on the list of players who will be signed to long-term deals. It also appears Fournette and Robinson are headed to second contracts. But the list of sure core players is shorter than you might think and nothing is guaranteed. Look to Seattle releasing cornerback Richard Sherman earlier this offseason; that would have seemed like a bizarre concept a couple of years ago, but the cap and age conspired to make it reality. I imagine all of the players you mentioned will be around for at least more two seasons; most will be around more than that. But if you get beyond three years it’s almost impossible to project – partly because the Jaguars have structured contracts in such a way that they can release many highly-paid players a few seasons into contracts without major cap ramifications, and partly because so much changes year to year in the NFL that long-term doesn’t mean what it once meant.

Big on Blake from Philly

Hey John, a recent article posed the question if Blake Bortles is a franchise quarterback or not. He is in his fifth year with the same team. The team drafted him in the Top 5. They’ve drafted offensive players around him and he has started every game since his rookie season. In addition, he has survived a head-coaching regime change, multiple coordinators and shaky line play. He just took his team to the AFC Championship Game and nearly a Super Bowl in Year 4, and signed a contract extension for three more years – and his play is trending upwards. If I said these facts to you about any other quarterback would it even be a question if he’s a franchise quarterback? I don’t think so. My only real question now is what can stop Blake Bortles? To me, the answer is nothing.

So, apparently one fer Blake … and here’s something Jaguars fans may have to wrap their heads around when it comes to Bortles. He may not be a franchise quarterback in the traditional sense of a player around whom the team builds the salary cap and the franchise. But it appears quite likely he’s going to have a long stint as the Jaguars’ quarterback – and maybe that makes him a franchise quarterback of another kind.

Bruce from Maxonville

I forgot my question because they made it so hard for me to ...

What!?? What?!!

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

Just thought of this: If Jaguars Owner Shad Khan owns Wembley Stadium does that mean every NFL game played there makes him some revenue? Wow. I have even more respect for him now as a businessman. Very smart move. OK so here is a question: say the NFL wanted to expand into London with a team, since Shad owns the stadium wouldn't that give him the opportunity to own two franchises if they wanted to put an expansion one there? Is that even allowed in the NFL rules?

No. Owners can’t own two NFL teams – but yes, Khan if he purchases Wembley will receive revenue for all NFL games played there. And yes, he should be respected as a businessman. He has a decent track record in the area.

Dave from 242FF

Will any of the rookies miss OTAs due to graduation? Ayyyy ... football question.

No. You’re referring to the long-standing rule under which NFL rookies could not participate in offseason programs until after spring classes at their colleges were finished. This rule for many years caused rookies from schools on the quarter system to miss offseason workouts. While the value of offseason workouts for veterans can be debated, they have obvious benefits for rookies in terms of acclimating them to their new team and allowing them to be ready to work when training camp opened in July. While the number of schools operating on the quarter system grew smaller in recent seasons, some schools did continue on the system – most notably in the Pac 12. And this is why Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack did not participate in most of the offseason program as a rookie in 2016. The astute reader will notice the heavy use of the past tense in this answer. That’s because the NFL this offseason quietly modified the rule to allow most players from such schools to participate in the offseason program if they were no longer enrolled in school. It’s a move that was overdue. While the old rule sounded in principle as if it supported academics, it was in fact a mostly cosmetic rule because most players it affected were no longer enrolled in school and instead were already focused on football careers. It therefore hurt more than it helped.

Matt from Green Cove Springs, FL

Consider me one fer the website. I feel it’s not that difficult to navigate. Not to mention, I’m used to the ads by now. Now for my question: I know we’re just in OTAs, but who do you see as a surprise to make and not to make the final 53?

One fer the site. Sure … why not? As far as surprises to make the final 53, I have said before it’s difficult for me to project surprises because I follow the team closely and try to keep constant tabs on who might make the roster. Therefore, I’m not usually overly surprised at which players make the team. I think running back Tim Cook has a chance to make the roster, and I imagine that would surprise some people. Ditto rookie cornerbacks such as Dee Delaney or Quenton Meeks. I imagine a few more names will surface in the coming weeks. There are others, but if I told you it would ruin the surprise.

Roger from Houston, TX

Richard from Orange Park needs to sober up and get help.

This references a rather meandering letter from Richard from Orange Park recently bidding the O-Zone farewell for a variety of reasons including as I recall the new background on jaguars.com. Richard has been writing for a while. He’s cool. I like him. I wish he would stay. I can’t control it if he doesn’t.

Ed from Jacksonville

Was there no O-Zone for Sunday, 27 May 2018, or did the new website keep me from seeing it?

“B.”

Terry from Chester, VA

My favorite new happy dance song is “Happy Dance” by Mercy Me.

Jaguars 2018 Organized Team Activities resume Tuesday.

Tucker from Nashville, TN

I want to add fuel to the fire. During the season, I read several articles saying ratings were down. The NFL is a business and which team is better for business? The Patriots with Tom and Bill arguably the best of all time or the Jags who haven't been relevant in a decade. The Jags are a small market team who had zero primetime games last year. I think we got screwed but we still had our chances.

You’re not really adding fuel to any fire. The television-ratings angle to the NFL-versus-the-Jaguars conspiracy was kicked around a lot in the wake of the AFC Championship Game. It actually has been kicked around a lot over the years. The small-market thing, in fact, is a tried-and-true piece of the foundation of many Jaguars Conspiracy Theories. But it just doesn’t add up realistically. To think that someone in the league office told officials to make calls against one team or the other in a championship game – or any game, for that matter – and think that it wouldn’t eventually become known and call into question the integrity of the game … well, it’s just a pretty big reach once you look at it through the lens of reality.

Charlie from Chuckville

How do you feel about kiss-ups?

How much they got?

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