JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Daniel from Jax
I'm afraid you missed the point in my previous comment. A) Left tackle Cam Robinson and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. are the best players on the team at their positions. B) Until they are not, you make EVERY reasonable effort to keep them … not let them leave and hope your next pick is better or hope someone else releases a better player you can get. You keep your starters until they aren't your starters. That is what draft and develop requires for the team to improve.
I understood your point completely. And if the NFL operated in a laboratory with no salary cap or outside factors, then your approach might be correct. But with a cap – and with an entire roster to build and develop – general managers and coaches must consider value and projected production when approaching free agency. This is what makes Chark's situation tricky. Yes, he was the Jaguars' best wide receiver entering the 2021 season – and he is the best receiver currently on the roster. And yes, the team if there were no cap almost certainly would keep him. But if the Jaguars project his value at a certain price and he is seeking something significantly more than that price, signing him would be an unsustainable approach that eventually would preclude the team from making other necessary moves. If all contracts were one-year deals and the league were "pay as you go," your scenario would work. As it stands, teams must project and manage the cap.
Royce from Jacksonville
Mr. O. Can you tell us why so many believe that the dude from Michigan – Hutchinson – is rated so high? His stats over four years are not that impressive and he did nothing against Georgia.
Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson is rated so high by NFL Draft analysts because he has NFL measurables, and because he performed at a high level throughout his final collegiate season. He also is considered to have high character and strong work ethic. Many NFL people also believe he probably isn't "absolutely elite" at the position – but this is a class that doesn't really have an "absolute elite" prospect at any position except perhaps safety (Kyle Hamilton of Notre Dame). Hutchinson had 14 sacks as a senior and played just two games as a junior, so his statistics don't concern many NFL people. Those who like Hutchinson as the No. 1 overall selection will tell you they're not overly concerned about the Georgia game in the postseason because Georgia game-planned to take Hutchinson out of the game – and that his overall performance in 2021 more than indicates that Hutchinson can be very good at the NFL level. He overall is generally considered the safest selection among the candidates for No. 1 overall.
Jason from North Pole, AK
How concerned are you that Cam Robinson refused to sign and play under the franchise tag? It seems to me that after his best season that he might have gotten a big, long-term contract in free agency.
I don't know that Robinson "refused" to sign with the team because I don't know the parameters of the discussions between the Jaguars and Robinson. Either way, I'm not concerned. Players play at a high level while playing under the franchise tag all the time.
Zac from Austin, Tejas
What position would you rather overpay for – wide receiver, offensive tackle or defensive end?
I would rather not overpay.
Tom from Jacksonville
The Jaguars do play the AFC West teams this year, all of them. So, we will face quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs), Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos), Los Angeles Chargers (Justin Herbert) and Derek Carr (Las Vegas Raiders). Plus, Lamar Jackson of Baltimore and whoever some of the other teams settle on at quarterback. Does the one year of facing some really good quarterbacks guide our draft in any fashion, or more likely we just try to build our team strong?
The Jaguars went 3-14 last season with a roster that needs serious long-term building at many positions. The team will focus on that rather than drafting for specific out-of-division opponents – even ones with elite quarterbacks. Remember, too: The NFL in this era is an offensive-centric league with quality quarterbacks – and rules geared toward making the game easier for quarterbacks. Teams must always draft and prepare with that in mind.
JT from Palm Coast, FL
The Jags' offensive line wasn't as bad as some want to make it out to be. Franchising Robinson was a smart move. I know many will be upset at the news, but I feel like an equal amount will be fine with it. We do need another lineman, but left tackle wasn't the problem. Good move.
Hey, one fer signing Robinson…
Rob from PV
If we let Chark go, there is a real possibility that we don't get who we want in free agency (looks like not much coming available) and our draft pick may take a year or two to develop. That means there is a real possibility that our receiving corps could actually be WORSE than last year! What? Yea it could actually get worse! We must keep the best receiver we had last year AND try to pick up someone like ARob. We will only get better if we keep our best AND add more talent. If we lose Chark and add ARob we get a great position receiver, but we have no speed to stretch the field. You can't depend on a draft pick that is for the future. We just watched a second-year quarterback take his team to the Super Bowl! What are we waiting for?!?!
Your anxiety on this front is understandable because the Jaguars must upgrade wide receiver on several fronts this offseason. And part of that upgrade indeed likely will be a free-agent acquisition. As for retaining Chark, Monday is the opening of the NFL's "tampering window." If there is no deal done by then, it likely will be significantly tougher to retain Chark – if that indeed is the route the Jaguars want to take.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, given that teams don't release or trade their very best players, what do you think is behind the Russell Wilson trade? I can't make sense of trading an elite(?) quarterback.
I don't cover the Seattle Seahawks, so I don't have the insights I might if this question were about the Jaguars. The Seahawks seemed of the opinion their window for a deep postseason run with Wilson at quarterback had closed. They therefore traded Wilson for massive equity in terms of players and draft selections, equity they believe will give them a chance to begin rebuilding.
Royce from Jacksonville
Mr. O, according to your gut feeling the Jags will pick a guy that's Taven Bryan 2.0?
I assume you're referencing my gut feeling that the Jaguars will select Hutchinson No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. How will he fare in the NFL? Will he be better than Bryan? All draft-related conjecture is just that – conjecture – until players play, but most analysts believe Hutchinson at minimum will be a productive, very-good player. And there are concerns among NFL people and analysts that he may not have the "upside" of a lot of players in the draft. That second part in no way means he will be unproductive.
ShanghaiStevie from Back in Jax
Just a few short months ago you wrote something to the effect that it wasn't that wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. couldn't help the team, but the Jags didn't want a one-year rental. What has changed? Cam Robinson is essentially on a one-year rental. I mean, we could agree on a long-term deal, but we could have done that with OBJ. Did we not want wins last year as much as we do this year?
Robinson will be entering his sixth season with the Jaguars and is a player the franchise knows. That changes the "rental" dynamic.
John from Jacksonville
Hi KOAGF - Why was all the focus on placing a franchise tag on Robinson but not really discussed or considered for Chark?
The idea of placing the franchise tag on Chark was discussed here in the O-Zone, and it certainly was discussed and considered by the front office. Neither General Manager Trent Baalke nor Head Coach Doug Pederson has spoken publicly since the team tagged Robinson, but teams can only place the franchise tag on one player per offseason. They chose Robinson because his price, positional importance and perceived value made the move make more sense than placing the tag on Chark.
Jon from Palm Bay, FL
Just want to say kudos to Cam. Haven't heard him complain, threaten to holdout. Seems like a good team player.
I've never in his five seasons with the Jaguars heard or seen anything to indicate that Robinson is anything but a very good teammate and the kind of player coaches want on their team.