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O-Zone: Mean, mean machine

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Doc from Atlanta, GA

Hey, Big O: You mention we haven't had to lose "core" players in free agency. One could argue that's because none of the players drafted were actually worth second contracts until recently. That should get a "fair."

In recent O-Zone discussions about the Jaguars and free agency, the questions – and therefore my answers – have focused mainly on players drafted in the last few offseasons. The context of the questions – and therefore my answers – have focused largely upon young players such as linebacker Myles Jack, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. There is tremendous worry among fans that because these players haven't yet re-signed that they will never re-sign. My answers have made the point that the Jaguars have not lost any of the aforementioned three players, and that it's not correct to assume that those three players will not re-sign simply because it hasn't happened yet. As for your argument that the Jaguars haven't drafted well enough to have many players worthy of signing second contracts until recently … yes, fair.

Tom from Shanghai, China

Wait, you don't think its strange Jack Del Rio didn't know they were going to draft Blaine Gabbert? Isn't one of the main focuses pre-draft to game plan for different scenarios? Don't they have a draft board slotting every guy in place? Either Del Rio was lied to, or he's lying.

We're referencing former Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio being surprised that the Jaguars selected quarterback Blaine Gabbert No. 10 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. As I said when originally discussed this topic, the reason it wasn't entirely a shock that Del Rio didn't know the plan before the draft is that probably wasn't the plan before the draft. Gabbert at one point had been projected as going as early as No. 1 overall in that draft and it was something of a surprise when he was available at No. 10. Then-Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith, holding the No. 16 overall selection, likely saw an opportunity to draft what he believed was a franchise quarterback and he had to move quickly to make the trade. This perhaps wasn't a scenario that the team mocked extensively before the draft because it was surprising. It's also very possible that Smith thought more highly of Gabbert than Del Rio did, thus Del Rio's surprise when the Jaguars made the move for Gabbert. So, in that sense it likely wasn't all that strange that Del Rio didn't know beforehand that it was a possibility. That doesn't mean it wasn't an ill-fated selection, but it perhaps explains Del Rio's surprise.

Nathan from Fort Belvoir, MA

Do you find it challenging to provide an honest opinion of a player that performs less than stellar or gets involved with some moronic off-the-field situation knowing you will someday have to either come face-to-face with him or rely on him for an interview?

No. There are 53 active players in the Jaguars' locker room. Not all of them have to like what I write and not all have to like me, and it's OK if they don't. I don't rely on any one player for interviews. If one doesn't talk to me, I'll talk to another.

Shane from Washington, DC

I was glad to see the question about Telvin Smith and the possibility that concussions or CTE might factor into his decision. I have spoken to several recent former players and it's something they are all thinking about. I appreciate the evidence is not clear-cut usually for someone his age, but I think we have to respect that as a genuine possibility. I hope they can figure out a way to minimize those types of risks or I worry about where the entire game will end up. Peace to Telvin.

We don't have remotely enough information about this to speculate. It's fair to hope that whatever's going on with Smith isn't CTE-related. It's just as fair given the raised awareness of the issue in recent years to wonder if it is.

Ty from Fleming Island, FL

In the 25 years of the Jags, there seems to be no doubt that for the list of best quarterbacks Mark  Brunell is one and David Garrard is two. The list after that is a bit dicey, but if you were listing the Top 5 QB's in franchise history, who would be three, four and five? Perhaps Blake Bortles at three, Byron Leftwich at four and Jay Fiedler at five?


Chris from Canal Winchester, OH

The tax talk got me wondering. When I was a consultant travelling across the country, I had to worry about how much time I spent in a particular state because at some point they want to tax you. Do the players get hit with taxes from other state for earning money in that state?

Yes. And so do senior writers. The NFL ain't all glamour.

Scott from Jacksonville

The NFL needs to make it easier for teams to re-sign their own players. Perhaps a discount on the salary cap for second contracts? E.g. A $20 million a year contract only counts $18 million against the cap for a player re-signing with his team.

The NFL never has shown any inclination toward this, opting for a "hard cap" as opposed to soft. And though the idea would be a positive for teams that draft well, it would work against the long-held idea that the league always moves toward parity if possible. If you make it easier for teams to retain good players, then you make it easy for good teams to stay good and more difficult for struggling teams to improve.

Barry from Section 214

While the ringing of the bell is cool, and I'm all for supporting and acknowledging our military, playing "American Soldier" by Toby Keith before the fourth quarter has got to stop. That song is such a buzz kill and brings down the mood every time. We need a new video and song to get the fans hyped up going into the fourth quarter. Ring the bell, then bring the energy!


Jesse from Layton

John, I respect your football opinions having covered the league for a quarter century. You also are close to the team and can glean information which you share with your readers. Over 25 years you have gotten to understand the nature of the football business, the cap, the players and understand it in a way that most cannot. However, my opinion is you should refrain from talking about the website business model because it is extremely clear you only have cursory knowledge on the subject. The lengths of which you are incorrect in some of your statements, or simply ignorant to the workings of running a website are so staggering that any kind of corrections would be far too lengthy to write in this format. …

You wrote a lot more things. I read them. I also decided I'll probably keep on answering questions I'm asked and keep on referring to as what it is – a free website. Because it is – and because it seems to irritate people. Irritating people sometimes is fun. Sometimes, I like it.

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

Like you said: The draft is a crapshoot. When I read who we drafted and who we could have had instead, it makes me want to cry. David Caldwell and Company need to stay away from Vegas.

My point in saying the NFL Draft is a crapshoot wasn't to make you cry when thinking about the Jaguars' recent selections. Rather, it was to make the point that all teams have misses and there's little point in scrolling through past drafts to see who your team could have selected three spots after they selected some disappointing player. No team or general manager will look good in such an exercise – though some teams certainly will look better than others.

Chris from Orlando, FL

I was thinking back to when Ramsey said he won't be giving a hometown discount and that the Jaguars eyes are going be wide when he asks for his price when his contract is up. Looking at the highest-paid corner right now, I think it's Xavien Howard with the Miami Dolphins at around $15 million something. Do you think Ramsey is going to ask around 20 million? If so, do you see the Jags keeping him on the franchise tag instead?

I imagine Ramsey will ask for something astronomical – probably above $20 million – because it never hurts to ask, and because negotiations often start at extremes. I don't think there's any question that Ramsey will set the cornerback market. That's what should happen. I don't know that he'll rest it by a $5 million margin, so I expect he will get close to $20 million – but perhaps not quite.

Boy who Cried Wolf

Ya just had to start Mick Jagger up, didn't ya?

That wasn't me.