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O-Zone: No contest

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Matt from Union City, TN:
In your opinion is there a particular position that has a better chance of success in free agency – like offensive linemen tend to do better than wide receivers? Or is the whole thing really the luck of the draw?
John: Much about free agency indeed is luck of the draw, but as often as not the problem with free agency revolves around teams convincing themselves that their eyes and minds are wrong. Football people universally agree that free agency is a less-than-ideal way of acquiring players. You pay premium prices for players deemed unworthy of long-term deals by their original teams. No matter how many lists clog the internet, that's the great truth of free agency. There are occasions such as Malik Jackson with the Jaguars last season where a front-line player indeed hits the market and performs at a high level for his new team. It's far more common for an unrestricted free agent to not be elite and to reveal the reasons for his availability very quickly upon signing with their new teams. That's why I'm never particularly surprised when free agents struggle and have limited careers with new teams. As for your question – and yes, I remember that you asked one – I've always thought offensive linemen and defensive tackles were perhaps the safest free-agent bets, but even with those positions the key is teams asking themselves whether the player indeed is worth the contract – and most importantly, being honest with the answer.
Derrick from Jacksonville:
John, I just want to make one comment about the Super Bowl. Many people focused on the Falcons' play-calling at the end of the game as to why they lost. In a sense, I would agree. However, I said when the Falcons went up 13-0 that they should go for two because they had momentum. I also told everyone at the party that not going for two would come back and haunt them later. And it surely did.
John: Did they cut you off at that point or was it when you were lip-synching and simul-dancing Gaga at halftime?
Jeremy from Bossier City, LA:
Can we please keep politics out of ESPN is not what it was years ago. They waste too much time on opinion and controversy and not enough on the sports. I'd like to have at least one place where I can simply read about sports. Thank you!
John: I'll assume you're referring to a question included in a recent O-Zone in which a reader expressed pride in Jaguars Owner Shad Khan speaking about a hot-button national issue. I don't anticipate spending extensive time discussing the issue, but this is a Jaguars site and if a reader wants to express a thought on the owner's thoughts in a reasonable manner I'd say there's a place for that here.
Jammie from Foley, AL:
Will the Jaguars go offensive line in the first round of the draft?
John: I doubt it. The Jaguars hold the No. 4 overall selection in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. While much can change between early February and the late April draft, there is not currently an offensive lineman projected to be selected that early.
Darren from Arlington, TX:
What are the chances Myles Jack converts to strong safety? He's a little undersized for a typical linebacker, and is known for his above-average coverage skills and athleticism. What are your thoughts, O?
John: Myles Jack is not actually all that undersized for a middle linebacker in this era of the NFL. Luke Kuechly plays middle linebacker at 6-feet-3, 238 pounds; Jack plays at 6-1, 245 pounds, so there's no reason Jack's size should keep him from playing in the middle.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Just saw the Shad Khan interview. What in the world has Blake done to garner the type of support that Dave Caldwell and Khan seem to have in him??? It can't be performance-based, so please: what is it????
John: You support your quarterback in the NFL until he's not your quarterback. Neither Caldwell nor Khan are so dim to believe Blake Bortles has played to the level of a franchise quarterback or to the level of a No. 3 overall selection in the draft. But right now Bortles is the Jaguars' starting quarterback and there's every chance he will be the starting quarterback next season. The last part is true because it's extremely unlikely that the Jaguars sign or draft a quarterback who is clearly a better option. That means he will at the very least enter the 2017 offseason with a very real chance to start. For that reason, Khan and Caldwell and the Jaguars will support him because that's that you do. Do they believe he is the answer? They certainly hope so.
Daniel from Duval:
Just think what Garoppolo could do with the Jags receivers. I think it's worth it.
John: It's intriguing. It's very, very intriguing. Please note that by "intriguing," I do not mean "I believe the Jaguars will trade for Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason." But I do mean it's intriguing.
Mike from Navarre, OH:
What are your thoughts on the Jaguars' impending free-agent decision on Johnathan Cyprien? I have a gut feeling he could be the latest in a slew of players the Jaguars have let go and go on to be Pro Bowl-caliber players for other teams (see Reggie Nelson). Obviously, if the Jaguars switch the scheme and go to a two-high safety look this wouldn't work well with Cyprien's strengths of being a hard-nosed guy that plays well close to the line; however, keeping the same type of scheme makes it seem like a no-brainer to keep Cyprien with his recent improvements in tackling and coverage. What do you say, O?
John: I say you've got the parameters of this decision pretty well worked out. I expect there to be a price that the Jaguars will be willing to pay to keep Cyprien, and at this point I'm skeptical that that price will be high enough to meet what he will command on the open market. Cyprien strikes me right now as a player whose value will be higher to a team that hasn't seen him play for four seasons. That's good for him because such players usually fare very, very well in free agency.
Rob from Palm Bay, FL:
Here's the issue I see with getting a quarterback in free agency. No quarterback worth paying free-agency prices for is going to want to come to Jacksonville as "competition." They are going to go somewhere where they are guaranteed to start. #DTWD
John: You're correct and to carry your point a step further, you have to wonder if the Jaguars will pay starter money for a quarterback who isn't pretty much assured of being better than Bortles. Starter-quarterback money is a lot to pay for a player you don't fully believe can be a starter.
Mason from Palm Bay, FL:
Not sure if you have answered this since the season, but I can't remember reading about him. How is A.J. Cann progressing? Could he be viewed as a starter moving forward, or did he have a bad season/need competition?
John: Cann didn't play as well in his second season as many projected he would play based on his rookie season. But he didn't have a bad season and I'd project him starting next season.
Robert from Lexington, KY:
A second-round running back, a top 10-paid free-agent running back and a running back at No. 4 overall. If that happens in back-to-back-to-back years it just might be the worst allocation of resources to what is probably the easiest position to adequately fill on the cheap in recent history.
John: I don't know if I'd say "worst in recent history," but no, it wouldn't be great.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I hear a lot of talk about Jimmy Garoppolo being traded for a first-round draft Pick. What am I missing? Why would he be worth that much?
John: Because Garroppolo has shown enough in limited action with the New England Patriots to look like he might be good, and in a league where good quarterbacks are very, very hard to find that's enough to get people excited enough to maybe give up a premium draft choice. I don't know if Garropolo is a franchise quarterback, but I do know teams need one enough to make him very enticing.
Scott from Jacksonville:
So booing Roger Goodell is in poor taste? How about booing the O-Zone?
John: There are times I'm not sure why Goodell is getting booed, and sometimes I think fans are doing it just for something to do. When fans boo the O-Zone, I tend to think of it more as an exercise in pointing out the obvious.
Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee:
So, I guess we know who won that weightlifting contest between you and Shadrick, huh?
John: Sometimes in life there are no winners.

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