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O-Zone: Making it up

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Has the roster improved since the end of the season? If yes, how much?
John: Has the Jaguars' roster improved overall in the last few weeks? The Jaguars certainly think so, and I believe they're right in the sense that they improved the areas they believed most important entering free agency: offensive line and special teams. The Jaguars absolutely believed it important to be able to run when they want to run; that's something they couldn't do enough in the second half of last season and the postseason – and it's something they sure need to be able to do after signing All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell as an unrestricted free agent. If you count losing Allen Robinson, then they probably didn't improve at wide receiver; if you don't count him because he wasn't active last season except in Week 1, then perhaps they have improved the position. It's hard to make the argument they're better at nickel corner, because Aaron Colvin was really strong at the spot last season. One area that shouldn't be overlooked, though, is special teams. The Jaguars really believed they needed to improve there; adding Niles Paul, Cody Davis and Don Carey III and re-signing Lerentee McCray should ensure that. The biggest jump the Jaguars should see is in the players who return. This team had a bunch of guys in essentially their first or second seasons last season. Those players should ascend significantly.
Bruce from Jacksonville:
I - AM - feeling the feeeeeeeeling! Go TC, Go DC? Go Marrone! Go JOHN!! Go Jags!
John: You go, girl.
Jim from Middleburg, FL:
Say it ain't so, Joe. Did you commit a Freudian slip when you left Blake Bortles out of your point No. 4 summary of the receiver group in your free-agency status article? I know he got an extension last year. Is Hurns going to be with the Jaguars for the opener?
John: Omitting Hurns from the Jaguars' wide-receiver discussion in Monday's free-agent look ahead (back) wasn't as much of a slip as an acknowledgment that it's difficult to figure a lot about the Jaguars' receivers in general right now – and Hurns in particular. While Hurns received an extension before the 2016 season, he received all of the guaranteed money in the deal in the first two years of the contract. That means he can be released at any time without costing the Jaguars money on the cap; that makes a player in Hurns' situation – i.e., likely not a starter – vulnerable. It's also difficult to project a front-line role for Hurns after the Jaguars paid Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief as free agents this past week. I, like you, hope Hurns has a role next season; he's a class act and I hope he has success. But it's not hard to see a scenario in which that's not the case.
Grant from Jacksonville:
When Blake Bortles signed his contract you seemed certain the Jags had no intention of drafting a quarterback in the first round. After free agency your certainty might have wavered a bit? Be honest.
John: A bit, but only a very small bit – like the tiniest, bittiest of bits.
Brian from Moundsville, WV:
Mr. O-Mighty: What do you think the offensive line will look like with Norwell joining us (who starts where)? Thanks and enjoy reading and the humor.
John: I would project the line as left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jermey Parnell. That's contingent on the Jaguars not selecting a guard in the 2018 NFL Draft. If that happens, a guard could certainly compete with Cann.
Brett from Jacksonville:
Is it possible that the reason we haven't signed a veteran quarterback this offseason is to entice teams to trade up with us in the draft thinking we might take a quarterback?
John: That indeed might be a ramification of the Jaguars' offseason strategy, but it wouldn't be a reason they chose to take the approach they did.
Scott from San Marco, FL:
Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football ... what were they thinking?
John: They were thinking they needed outside-the-box thinking to revive interest in what long had been a ratings behemoth but that at the time had slipped somewhat. I actually liked Miller on MNF, but maybe it was just me. Actually, there's a decent chance that it may have been just me.
Scott from Palatka, FL:
The article you wrote on how Poz had a huge influence on Telvin Smith and Myles Jack got me thinking. Could Poz start a rookie mentor program? The way those guys talked about him seems like he'd be perfect for something like that.
John: He could, though the league already has such programs in place.
Reggie from Tennis Courts in Jacksonville:
You know we are both big tennis guys ... so who is the better GOAT, Roger Federer or Tom Brady?? Seems like an easy choice to me ...
John: Me, too. Federer – and even if I didn't firmly believe that, my wife loves Federer enough and dislikes Brady enough that I wouldn't dare answer differently.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I believe one of the big reasons for last year's success – other than A-Rob – was the lack of injuries. Is that simply attributed to luck or the intense training camp along with Tom Myslinski's strength training program?
John: The Jaguars' lack of injuries last season should be attributed a bit to the team's strength and conditioning staff, but it should mostly be attributed to luck: Injuries happen in the NFL and there's often no way to avoid them. When a team is as fortunate on that front as the Jaguars were last season there by definition is a large amount of luck involved.
Myles from Newcastle, UK:
The free-agency tour of Ndamukong Suh and the consideration of different states' income-tax arrangements got me thinking. Is there any consideration given to the effect of this in respective teams' salary caps, or are higher-income-tax-state teams at a financial disadvantage in having to up their offers to players to counter the effect? Thanks.
John: State income tax is not factored into the salary cap, so yes: teams from states such as Florida with no state income tax can have an advantage.
Mason from Pal:
With the amount of money we will be paying the offensive line this year, is it fair for us to expect them to be able to run against stacked boxes? The Rams game and Patriots playoff game come to mind with teams selling out on stopping the run.
John: It's probably not fair to expect the Jaguars to reel off five yards a carry against every stacked box, but is it fair to expect the Jaguars to run better behind the interior of the line next season? Absolutely and without question.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
Please tell me it's a bad joke that the Jags just paid Moncrief $9.6 mil guaranteed with incentives up to $12 million, while letting Robinson walk?
John: It's not a joke. Moncrief is on a one-year deal, so his contract has no effect on the team's salary cap moving forward. If you're comparing one-year contracts, Robinson's cap impact would have been nearly $16 million had he played under the franchise tag, so the Jaguars are paying Moncrief pretty close to half of what they would have paid Robinson.
Frankie from London, England:
Johnny O! We've gotten better this offseason: more quality on the offensive line, more quality at tight end and strength in depth in the secondary. Special teams looks to have gotten stronger and at wide receiver, we're stronger if you consider Allen Robinson's absence through injury. I just can't wait to see the new jerseys. My question is, how do you feel about where the Jaguars go with the first-round pick? With Poz's retirement, I like taking a linebacker in the first two, but more so than a quarterback? We have an intriguing few weeks ahead.
John: I don't see the Jaguars taking a linebacker in the first round. I wouldn't rule out offensive line or wide receiver there.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
Do you know of any time the league had to step in because a team was over the cap? If so, what happened?
John: While there have been times teams have been fined for circumventing the cap, instances when teams are blatantly over the cap typically don't happen. The reason is that each team has officials who are in charge of the cap. Those officials work with officials from the league to clarify rules and details so that teams are in the vast majority of instances stay within the guidelines for the cap.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
I'm down in Costa Rica for a couple weeks with my amazing and beautiful Costa Rican girlfriend. I'm staying in the capital with her and we are visiting mountains, the rain forest and volcanos – and drinking rum on a beautiful beach. What are you all up to?
John: Liar.

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