O-Zone: Like a knife

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Michael from Orlando, FL

I guess I think a little differently than some about Yannick's contract status. The angst I read is from the fans. I read little other than the pro forma comments from 91, his agent and the team. I interpret that as a sign that both sides believe each side is negotiating in good faith and both are trying to find numbers, years and terms that will work for both.

NFL contracts often take time. They don’t always happen as quickly as players, teams or fans want. I have seen many lengthy negotiations that seemed tense, and most leave no ill will once complete. I believe there is a good possibility the Jaguars and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue at some point will agree on a long-term extension, and there’s no reason to think there will be ill feelings if that happens. And you’re right: Most of the angst on this seems to come from fans convinced the Jaguars are botching the process and resentful over perceived past errors in contracts (read: Blake Bortles). I understand that angst, but the reality is the Jaguars still have Ngakoue under contract for a season with a franchise-tag option after that. That’s their leverage – and for now, they’re using it. It’s part of the process – just as Ngakoue holding out is his leverage and part of the process.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-Man, as weird as the Telvin Smith situation is, it's surprising that there is already a "reserve/retired" list that exists for the team to put him on. Are there common situations that fill the need for this list to exist?

Teams put players on the reserve/retired list when they retire. It’s a way to ensure the team retains the right to a player upon retirement in the event the player decides to return to the NFL. It’s a relatively common transaction.

Bradley from Oceanside, CA

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if Josh Allen is crazy good, doesn’t that make Ngakoue a little more expendable?

The key words in your question are “a little,” because yes: Allen being good would make Ngakoue “a little” more expendable. It wouldn’t make Ngakoue completely expendable, though, because pass-rushers are valuable. You can never have too many good ones. At the right price.

Patrick from Jacksonville

Do you see a world where the Jags are able to sign Ngakoue, Jack and Ramsey to second contracts, or is it more likely at least one of them ends up walking in free agency or getting traded? It seems like getting all three re-signed should be the top priority and anything less will be a big disappointment.

I do think the Jaguars there’s a good chance will sign all three players – Ngakoue, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Jalen Ramsey – to second contracts. As I have said for several seasons, I don’t think it will be easy. I think there will be difficult negotiations with all three players, and I think there’s a possibility the Jaguars will have to use leverage at times to make it work. They perhaps will have to use the league’s roster tool of the franchise tag. Or at least the threat of it.

Braddock from Jacksonville

Pretty awesome how we were 5-11 last year, our leading tackler for the last three years is sitting out, Yannick is holding out, Jalen shows up in an armored transport, but no isn't a problem or distraction, lol. He has two years remaining and one of the three guys that have made his life easier since he was a rookie is next in line. One already got paid and the other is playing for the Rams. What is wrong with him? Let Yannick get paid, then start your shenanigans. No question.

What?

Jay-Z from Orlando, FL

How does Zeke Elliot's holdout situation differ from Yannick Ngakoue's? You don't hear anything about Zeke being required to report within 30 days of the first game. It is not like the Melvin Gordon holdout, who is in the option year of his initial contract and that carries special rules regarding fines ($30,000 per day and a game check for each missed preseason game) as he has already accrued four seasons.

I can’t control what you hear about Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. I do know that he must report 30 days before the regular-season opener to accrue a season toward free agency.

Curran from Orlando, FL

Why are college-uniform designs drastically so much better than NFL uniforms? Are owners just out of touch with what's in style these days? Case in point, look at Oregon or UCF, and then look at the Jets.

Eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Don from Marshall, NC

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Telvin Smith! You had a great career and thank you! Good luck on what’s next for you! Go Jaguars!

The Jaguars placed weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith on the Reserve/Retired list Thursday. What that truly means for his future after this season remains to be seen.

Jay from Hooks

Hey, John! I was looking at the regular-season schedule and noticed that our Week 12 matchup at the Flaming Tacks (Titans) is a 4:05 kick. Why is that? There's not but a one-hour, time-zone difference. I don't get why it would have a West Coast kick time.

The NFL’s 4 o’clock (or 4:05, or 4:25) times aren’t reserved for West Coast games.

Mr. Dude from the Beach

John, could the Jaguars sign Yannick to a contract that doesn’t take effect until next year? I’m not sure if this is something that happens or not, but doing so could appease the team by allowing them to save on his salary this season while giving Yann the security of knowing he’s under contract for the foreseeable future – even though he wouldn’t get the payday until next season. Is this a thing? Also, what recourse does the team have if Telvin doesn’t pay the fine(s) he was issued? Do they sue him?

A contract can read however two sides agree it will read, but NFL contracts don’t work that way. A contract counts on the salary cap in two primary ways – the base salary for a given year and the overall amortization of the signing bonus. It’s common for the base salary to be comparatively small in the first year of a contract to provide some cap relief, but the bonus is spread evenly over the cap. So, a player who receives a five-year contract with a $40 million bonus might have a very small cap hit from base salary, but an $8 million hit from the bonus. As far as Smith’s fine … the Jaguars technically could pursue the fines he incurred during the offseason, but it’s an issue that likely wouldn’t be pursued if there is an amicable solution – whatever that solution may be.

Mike from Cortland, NY

Hi, John: I'm still confused about the rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement stating a player must report 30 days before the season to accrue a season toward free agency. Why would a player believe he has leverage knowing this rule? We have seen countless holdouts that extend into the regular season. Hypothetically, what if Ngakoue reports 29 days before Week 1 and plays all 16 games? We still have him for another season? What would the salary be for the extra year? Did this rule impact the length of, say, Joey Bosa's contract? Lastly, reports state that Melvin Gordon's holdout is likely to last a while. How is his situation any different than Ngakoue's?

I’m sorry you’re confused; confusion can be, well … confusing. I’ll answer your questions one at a time. I don’t know why a player would believe he has leverage knowing he must report; I can’t always explain why people think as they do. If Ngakoue fails to report before the deadline, he would become a restricted free agent following the 2019 season if he and the Jaguars don’t reach a deal; that means he could test free agency with the Jaguars having the option to match other teams’ offers – and those offers would determine his salary. All NFL drafted rookies sign four-year contracts, with the team having a one-year option on first-round selections. Gordon’s situation is different because he already has accrued four seasons toward free agency and therefore will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2019 season no matter when he reports next month. NFL players must have accrued four NFL seasons to become UFAs and Ngakoue still needs one more year toward that.

Sports Guy from Sportsville

Are you better than Junior at sports?

Goodness gracious, no. O-Zone Jr. played tennis collegiately, and is naturally athletic. I flailed on the basketball court at the high school level severely limited by gravity and my own lack of coordination.

Tudor from St. Augustine, FL

You cut me deep, J. You cut me real deep. ( I thought we were buds).

(Did you really?)

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