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O-Zone: New ideas

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Ben from Santa Rosa Beach

I was surprised at the release of Zay Jones. Was it more salary cap considerations or last year's injury?

All of the above – and maybe a bit more. The Jaguars on Monday released wide receiver Zay Jones, a move that came four days after the team selected wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. No. 27 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. Thomas' selection prompted the move, as did his salary-cap number. His injury situation last season also played a role because players don't usually get healthier as they age. But this at its core was about the cap – and about the need to churn the roster and stay young. The Jaguars have signed a lot of expensive free agents in the last few offseasons. When you build that way, you must draft well behind it so you can get younger and shed expensive veterans. The Jaguars haven't been able to execute that plan at all positions, but they felt they were able to do it at receiver this week.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

Do you see the NFL moving the start of the draft to earlier in the week? There's less media coverage and hype during the weekend. I was looking for post draft news and analysis and didn't find much content. Media folks don't like to work on weekends, do they?

The NFL Draft is pre-analyzed, analyzed and post-analyzed to an extent I find amazing – and perhaps disturbing. Here's the most honest analysis I can give, offered without sarcasm: The Jaguars selected nine players in the 2024 NFL Draft. They all have potential. If they stay healthy, stay focused, learn how to work and learn to be professional, a few of those guys probably will develop into long-term players. If the Jaguars sign one of the players to a long-term contract and he's a core player, it's a good draft. If two players are core players, it's a great one. Any analysis trying to tell you how a specific player will fare next year or long-term is guessing. I, for one, worked all weekend – and I imagine most people covering the draft did, too. I expect they covered and analyzed it precisely as they would have had it been Tuesday through Thursday.

Brian from ROUND ROCK, TX

I heard the legendary Gene Frenette say on a podcast that every team gets better with the draft. He said the Jags got 15 to 20 percent better, and stated this as common sense. I am astounded by this "wisdom" of a man that has covered the NFL for decades. Mean Gene knows that the full draft class is full of saviors that will push each team to a Super Bowl. Do you all bow down to him when he walks into the press room?

I wouldn't put it quite like that.

Ray from Newport News, VA

I am OK with the fifth-year option on both quarterback Trevor Lawence and running back Travis Etienne Jr. (not that my vote matters). Still hoping we can do a long-term deal with Trevor as I think we can re-sign him for a little less than the Top 5 guys. He deserves a big payday but he probably does not deserve to be the highest-paid player for a week or whatever until the next quarterback signs; $45 million a year is probably fair. But hey … if I am the player, I would want the max as well.

I'm glad you're OK with the fifth-year options. This will ease nervousness around these parts. I expect the Jaguars and Lawrence to reach a long-term contract extension this offseason – perhaps soon – and I would be surprised if he's not at least temporarily by some measure the NFL's highest-paid players. That's how these things work, deserved or not.

Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hi, John. What's the latest on the predicted timeline for getting a stadium deal done?

Sometime before the end of the year.

Steve from Waycross, GA

With all the complaining about trading back and not using those received draft picks to move back up, isn't possible that Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke sees those 2025 draft picks as money in the pocket to possibly trade for a player midseason that can put us over the top heading into the playoffs? We have seen good players that wanted out of the teams traded for only a third-round pick and go on to help make a few plays that can mean the difference between a win and a loss.

The Jaguars acquired the Nos. 23 and 167 selections in the 2024 NFL Draft in the trade with the Minnesota Vikings for the No. 17 overall selection in the '24 draft last Thursday. The Jaguars also acquired third-and-fourth-round selections in the '25 draft in the deal. Could those selections be equity in a midseason trade? Absolutely. Baalke likes having trade equity and cap space to make such trades if needed.

John from Jacksonville

Reading and listening to our fans. I'm convinced no pick would have been good enough. We have needed a Thomas-type receiver since former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith retired. They must think we drafted Matt Jones (2005) Plus believing a cornerback was a key to any future success … it's not. Baalke hasn't been perfect but what general manager has? Back-to-back winning seasons says he knows a little something. The positives are much higher than negatives. I look forward to another playoff run with these "questionable "players. Go Jags!

One fer Baalke …

Gary from Fleming Island

I thought this was a solid draft considering the Jags had mid-to-late round picks. The players have the physical traits and production (mostly) to justify where they were picked. You never know how picks will pan out but these definitely have potential. Overall an A.

… and another fer Baalke …

Eric from Jacksonville Beach

Can we fast forward to midseason when someone is going to say "I can't believe we didn't draft xx in the fifth round that turned out to be a star. I know every team passed on them for five rounds, but Baalke should have known and gotten them."

… and one not fer Baalke in November already.

Rob from the duuuuu

I'm a big fan of Zay Jones and am sad to see him go. What an awesome run he had in 2022! That said I'm an even bigger fan of Jarvis Juice Landry and would be soooo happy if we signed him. Is this a possibility Zone?!?

Veteran wide receiver Jarvis Landry will reportedly attend the Jaguars' rookie minicamp on a tryout basis next weekend. If he's healthy and appears as he can still play at a high enough level to contribute … sure, signing him is a real possibility.

Marcus from Jacksonville

Is it possible that the Jags are maneuvering the salary cap so that they can re-sign Trevor with a higher than normal cap hit in the first couple of years? Typically, teams try to push the bigger cap hits to the end of a contract, but with the space the Jags have, they could frontload it to a degree, or at least spread it more evenly. If that is the case, does that alleviate some of the angst from those who feel like the Jags wasted the low salary years of his rookie contract, knowing that in two or three years, we're not going to have an astronomical cap hit for our quarterback?

I would call that "quite possible."

Kevin from Clayton

Hey O. I think the Jags drafting Cam Little out of Arkansas was a great draft pick. He was a phenomenal kicker at Arkansas and I think he will be amazing for the organization. Also, he's only 20 years old so if he ends up being really good, the Jags won't have to worry about a kicker for a long time.

Stay tuned.

Donut from Saint Johns

First off, I'd like to congratulate all the rookies in 2024, it's amazing to get paid to do what you love. My question for you is on the scouts - are there team scouts solely focused on college athletes? Meaning after the draft they are on to next year or do they also scout NFL free agents?

All NFL scouting departments – the Jaguars' scouting department included – have scouts that scout college players and scouts that scout professional players.

Jeff from Orange, CA

Favorite and least favorite pick, please?

Favorite: Axe. Least favorite: Nose.

DJ from Grass Valley, CA

In 2015, Baalke traded back two spots to No. 17 for a fourth-round pick and a 2016 fifth-round pick. He selected defensive lineman Arik Armstead based mostly on traits over production in college. Chargers got Melvin Gordon at No. 15. Who won that deal? Maybe, once in a while, Baalke might know what he's doing?

Careful. This required objectivity, reason and the ability to think a thought that might not be "cool" or "popular." Such thinking ain't always welcome in these here parts.