O-Zone: No days off

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brian from Greenwood, IN

I keep seeing quotes from cornerback Jalen Ramsey like "I want so much money that they are going to have to put me on layaway." Based on that, no way Ramsey plays under the franchise tag. I see a long, possibly contentious contract dispute with Ramsey on the horizon. Do you agree?

I suppose there’s always the potential in the NFL for a long, contentious holdout – particularly with recent situations such as those involving Le’Veon Bell/Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers giving players more power in imposing their will to a degree that previously was uncommon. But I wouldn’t say there’s “no way” Ramsey plays under the franchise tag in 2021. Remember, when a player doesn’t play under the tag he earns nothing in that year and loses a year in the prime of his career. That’s why year-long absences – even when involving the tag – are rare and why the Bell situation this season was so unusual. Ramsey’s contract seems destined to be a topic for a while because the Jaguars don’t plan to offer him an extension this offseason. Ramsey appears to have accepted this as beyond his control because he’s under contract through 2020. I therefore don’t expect any contentiousness until next offseason, but if the Jaguars are ready to negotiate and pay Ramsey at that time – and there’s not yet any indication that that won’t be the case – then contentiousness can be kept to a minimum.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

How is our kicking game looking for 2019?

Good. Kicker Josh Lambo has played well enough to earn a contract this offseason, and punter Logan Cooke was fine as a rookie last season. Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis is one of the NFL’s best at what he does. This area is in good shape.

Jaginator from (formerly of) Section 124

The NFL often pays players in a “next-in-line” fashion because it’s the only league with a hard salary cap - and it tends to rise (significantly) each year. Someone like Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers may be playing on, say, a five-year deal. During those years, his salary is constant, but the cap keeps rising. So, it doesn’t make any sense that every other quarterback signing a contract during those years will be limited to “you can’t be paid more than Rodgers” because Rodgers’ contract quickly becomes outdated as a standard. And even an “above-average” guy can reasonably find himself with a deal that’s larger than Rodgers’.

True. The only solution to this would be to have far shorter deals and have teams/players renegotiate every year or so in an effort to bring all contracts more in line with recent performance. I’m certain there are some players who would welcome such a system. Others? Not so much.

Mac from Jacksonville

If OTA's matter so little ... why bother with them at all?

Organized team activities have value for some positions such as quarterback and wide receivers. They also have value for players who are new to their teams or their schemes. It’s why you rarely see younger players – particularly younger offensive players – missing the voluntary work. You also rarely see players who have recently signed as unrestricted free agents miss OTAs because they’re a chance for extended meeting time before training camp. As players become more accustomed to the NFL – and as they become more familiar with the scheme in which they are playing – OTAs become far less important for many of them.

Braddock from Jacksonville

I think $60 million guaranteed is fair for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue with the potential of $100 million. The dude pressures the quarterback and also has the best swipe in the game for forced fumbles. Pay him. Corners don't make him better, he makes corners better.

OK. I’ll let him know how you feel.

James from St. Augustine, FL

Can we please trade Ramsey and cut Leonard Fournette?!?! Yes, Ramsey is a great player but no leader. Trade the “prime time” wannabe to the crappiest team and call it a day. Fournette is a bust at best!

Perhaps it’s time to put the whole debate over whether cornerback Jalen Ramsey is a leader to rest because it’s not particularly pertinent to his importance to the Jaguars – or to how much he should be paid. NFL teams have 53 players. It’s not remotely important that all of them be leaders. It’s not necessary that every great player is a “leader” in the sense of showing up to voluntary work. Here’s how Ramsey can lead. Play. Be great. Negate opposing receivers. Intercept passes. As for your question, the Jaguars aren’t trading Ramsey and they’re not cutting running back Leonard Fournette. Neither is happening.

Rick from St. Johns, FL

When did this “I've outplayed” my current contract become a thing? I thought that's why the agent negotiated incentives. I like Ngakoue as much as any Jags fan, but what's next? Will players demand new contract after “outplaying” their contract following their first year? What if roles were reversed and it was apparent a player was a bust after Year 2 or 3 of a rookie contract. Would any player accept the team coming back and demanding a newly negotiated contract?

Your point is a good one if we’re talking about veteran contracts, but it doesn’t have much to do with rookie contracts. That’s because rookie contracts don’t include incentives, and it’s very possible that a player by Year 3 or 4 is clearly outperforming what essentially a minimum deal. As far as a Year 2 or 3 bust, the team can handle that by releasing the player – so, a team really does have an avenue to handle the reversed situation whereas a player who has outperformed his contract is sort of stuck.

Braddock from Jacksonville

I just don't understand why it's such a talking point. Pass rushers make the secondary better, not the other way around. Pay Yannick, Jalen is under contract and just in case you haven't noticed, LSU and UF produce as good or arguably better players every other season. Pass rushers are hard to find.

The way your email is worded indicates that Louisiana State and Florida produce players as good or arguably better than Jalen Ramsey every other season. I’ll assume I misinterpreted something in your email.

Jay from Jacksonville NC

_O-zy on the Eyes, Question in regards to former players becoming coaches: How do some move up the ranks so fast? Jerry Sullivan was a wide receivers coach for 40 years (save for one season as an offensive coordinaotr). Keenan McCardell has been a wide receivers coach in college/NFL for the past nine years. Byron Leftwich makes a meteoric rise from coaching intern to NFL offensive coordinator in just over two years. Is his mind just that much more “in tune” to running an offense? Is it a matter of right place/right time? Is Keenan just happy being a wide receivers coach? _

Quarterbacks coaches and offensive line coaches generally speaking rise through the ranks more quickly, with quarterback coaches currently the rage because of the way the league is trending.

Logan from Wichita, KS

Let's say it is June 2020. Yannick isn't re-signed and refuses the tag, Ramsey isn't re-signed and refuses the tag, Telvin Smith has fully retired, Myles Jack isn't signed back, Calais Campbell and Marcell Darieus are cut to try and re-sign our stars but they leave for greener pastures. Our 3-13 season in 2020 makes no free agent want to be here. Our No. 2 overall draft pick is very questionable. How screwed is our future all because our front office is completely inept here in 2019?

Logan’s back.

Thomas from Williamsburg, VA

If the Jags didn't want to disrespect and miss the chance of signing quarterback Nick Foles by lowballing him, why is it any different with any Ngakoue? We've been looking for a pass rusher ever since Brackens, so you think we should know how important they are.

Foles and Ngakoue are different situations for a couple of reasons. One is that Foles is a quarterback and it’s always different with a quarterback. Two is that Ngakoue is under contract and the Jaguars potentially control his rights through at least 2020. I agree that there’s a correlation in that the Jaguars were willing to pay Foles healthily despite little perceived competition, but pursing a truly unencumbered player and re-signing one whose rights you control are significantly different,

Sean from Jacksonville

Just thinking out loud... Jalen gets his mega-deal next year after BB5's dead money drops away, unless I've got that huge chunk of dead money mistakenly attributed to 2020. That's a lot of thinking out loud, I know.

Blake Bortles indeed will stop counting against the Jaguars’ cap following the 2019 season. That undoubtedly will help the cap situation at that point. The cap isn’t as much of a one-to-one, cut-and-dry, drop-this-player/add-that-player scenario as many fans believe, but freeing up Bortles’ cap space will help everything to a degree.

Steve from Nashville, TN

John, why don't you stop reading emails and take the next month off and relax a little, no one will know.

He’ll know.

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