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O-Zone: Lone Wolf

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Zach from Denver, CO

So, we were supposed to make a splash at the start of free agency and these are the names that get announced when the 48-hour negotiation window opens: defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris, wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew and safety Rudy Ford. Three no-name players. Really? Outside of their own market, I'm willing to bet no one has heard of these guys. The worst part? We somehow are giving Robertson-Harris $14 million guaranteed and $24 million value over three years. Agnew is supposed to be a "dynamic" returner on special teams, yet he has seven fumbles and four touchdowns in his career on returns. We have now signed three guys not even sniffing the Top 100-ranked free agents. I feel like nothing has changed so far in terms of personnel decisions. Seems like more middle-of-the-road/below-average players being overpaid and expected to be people they aren't. What's the point of having the most cap space in the league with $70 million when you have people who don't know how to use it? This team is never going to be good because we will never have anyone that can make a good personnel decision. So frustrated and we are only a couple hours into this officially.

Aaaaaaaaaaagh!!! Panic!!!! This was a common emotion for Jaguars fans and observers Monday, because the six players with whom the team reportedly agreed to terms on Day 1 of the NFL's so-called "legal tampering period" leading into the 2021 free agency – running back Carlos Hyde, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew, defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and safety Rudy Ford – were not among the league's big-name, high-price free agents. The frustration of Jaguars fans was understandable; with $70 million in cap space entering the 2021 NFL League Year, media talking heads, observers and fans assumed the team would take a bunch of home-run swings to start free agency. The key to that sentence is that that's what outsiders believed the Jaguars would do, which has nothing to do with what the team actually planned to do. Your worry is because the team did not make a "splash" by signing players off a Top 100 list that mistakes were made. And that because the signings were no-name players, the Jaguars' decision-makers "don't know how to use" their cap space – and that the team is "never going to be good." I likely won't be able to change your feelings or make you not feel disappointed. What I can tell you is signing big-name free agents off the top of lists and making early splashes in free agency in no way ensures winning the following season. More often than not, free agency is a low-percentage, high-risk fool's game. I tend to get encouraged when a team I follow doesn't make big headlines in free agency. It makes me believe they are following their own plan rather than signing players for the sake of filling depth charts and making headlines in March. This is clearly a long-term plan about value and building a sustainable roster. That won't make you happy in March 16. How it looks in September is what will matter. Stay tuned.

Paul from Jacksonville

I hope we draft better than we handle early free agency.

Your premise is based on the assumption the Jaguars are handling free agency poorly. It's an understandable assumption because so many observers equate signing well-known players as handling free agency well. History doesn't support that assumption. And that assumption is more about short-term perception than long-term reality. But it's an understandable assumption, nonetheless.

Dan from Somewhere in the Back

Earth, Wind and Oehser, I know we have positively oodles of cash to spend in free agency but we just committed $45.4 million dollars to a kick returner and a rotational defensive lineman with a bad shoulder. Please tell us. Were these shrewd moves?

Time will tell.

Sean from Jacksonville

A reminder to those fans who are complaining about the signings now and in the future: It doesn't mean they will make the team. If they make the team, it doesn't mean they will stay there. Nothing is guaranteed and that goes for the quality of their play, or lack of it, or if they become a giant success. Do you see this every year? What is the biggest thing you have to repeat every free agency season regarding players signed or not?

I see this reaction pretty much every year from fans – and many media observers – when a team they follow doesn't pursue the players at the top of free-agent lists. The biggest thing I repeat is that pursuing players at the top of free-agent lists is good for headlines in March and not necessarily victories in November and December.

Logan from Wichita, KS

$21 MILLION ON A PUNT RETURNER!?!?! Philip Dorsett!?!?! Injury prone receivers with one season with over 500 yards is not an upgrade over even a water boy! Carlos Hyde?!?! Round 2 just because college history? Then another special teams cog to play gunner?!?!?! Did Caldwell come back in through the backdoor after the Roy Robinson-Harris deal?!?!?! There was almost hope!!!!! This is the kind of stupid garbage decision making that makes optimism impossible!

Logan's back.

Gordon from Jacksonville

Lol I love how Yan only got two years, $26 million in the open market, which comes out to $13 million a year. Maybe the old regime was on to something by not offering him 20+ million a year.

I'm mentioning former Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in today's O-Zone only because I received multiple emails regarding the two-year, $26 million contract to which he reportedly agreed with the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday. Soon enough, it will be time to move on from the topic in this forum. But yes … the Jaguars in the 2019 offseason reportedly offered Ngakoue upward close to $20 million a season. And yes, the feeling in the organization at the time was that that was more than fair – quite a bit more. And yes … Ngakoue apparently cost himself quite a bit of money. But there were no winners in that situation. The Jaguars lost a good player and Ngakoue lost a lot of money. Were the Jaguars' decision-makers right in retrospect? Sure. Why not? At this point, it doesn't seem to matter all that much.

Pat from Duval

Did anyone ever expect Carlos Hyde to come back?

No.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey, John. Should we be concerned about free agency this year? It seems like every star players' contracts get restructured and then I see the patriots sign tight end Jonnu smith and linebacker Matthew Judon, for example. Will there be some moves from the Jaguars, or do they want to save the cap room?

The Jaguars aren't doing what they're doing at the start of free agency to "save cap room." They are doing what they're doing because they want to pay players their worth and therefore be able to build the roster correctly for the short- and long-term.

Art from Drexel Hill, PA

Imagine passing on $19 million year for $13 million a year; $13 million's a lot of money and he's got a chance to cash in again before 30, but he ain't ever getting that money back. When betting on yourself goes wrong.

"Sometimes you eat the bear; sometimes the bear eats you." – John Riggins.

Adrian from El Paso, TX

I know fans gonna fan but unless we're trying to sign a Top 5 free agent and are saving money for something like that, I'm concerned that we're picking up depth players on Day 1 of negotiations. It feels like waiting in line just to end up buying batteries on Black Friday. Help me understand?

Monday wasn't about "saving money." It was about spending it on what the team believes was the right players at the right value.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, what do you think about Tony Khan shutting down the Chark trade on twitter?

Heh.

Stephen from Wallingford

Roy Robertson-Harris??? Jamal Agnew??? By any chance, did anyone take a minute to explain to the new staff about free agency priorities?

It looks like someone told the Jaguars' staff not to worry about lists and that you don't build a roster intelligently by playing fantasy football in March. Monday was not an exciting day for Jaguars fans. It was not the day many fans wanted or expected. Honestly, it wasn't the day I expected; while I didn't think the Jaguars would make the "splash" that many expected, I admit I did expect them to pursue and sign one or two high-profile players. But that's because we're still learning about General Manager Trent Baalke, Head Coach Urban Meyer and this staff – and how they're going to approach roster-building. I'm more encouraged by this staff after Monday than before it. Judging by the inbox, that puts me in the minority. That's OK. I'm a Lone Wolf.

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