O-Zone: No games

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Mason from Palm Bay, FL

I asked back in May if the drafting of Josh Allen would impact the contract offered to Yann, and you said it wouldn't. It's kind of hard to believe that isn't somewhat muddying the waters.

I don’t think rookie edge defender Josh Allen’s presence has altered the Jaguars’ offer to veteran defensive end Yannick Ngakoue – yet. The Jaguars’ current offer to Ngakoue is one they believe is fair given his production – and given that they have him under contract for another season with the option to use the franchise tag for at least a season after that. That’s enough leverage that the Jaguars feel comfortable stopping at a certain point on the current offer. Allen’s presence will begin “muddying the waters” if Ngakoue plays this season without an extension because nothing in the NFL happens in a vacuum. If Allen begins playing as a position-defining pass rusher – which he has the potential to do – then that could ease the pressure to sign Ngakoue. Remember, too, that Ngakoue has a role in this. If he plays as well and is as impactful as he was in 2017, that could force the Jaguars’ hand. If he slips to four or five sacks – and there’s no reason to think that will happen – that would hurt his case. This story hasn’t played out yet. That will happen over the coming months.

Red from the O-Zone Comments Section

Is No. 84 going to make the 53-man roster? Seems like he's been the invisible man so far this training camp.

Wide receiver Keelan Cole typically has been the fourth receiver behind Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley and DJ Chark Jr. thus far during camp. But he hasn’t been invisible – and he in fact has looked very good in a lot of practice. I expect him to make the roster.

Al from Orange Park, FL

It seems to me that the average age of the projected starting quarterbacks this year is much lower than in years past. Yes? No? Your thoughts?

Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are still in the NFL, so my sense is the average age of NFL starting quarterbacks isn’t too, too low.

Matt from Philadelphia, FL

Is it at all common during these joint practices for opposing coaches to do any coaching with the opponent's players? I doubt there's much incentive to do so, but there are 180 players on the field at once and doing so would give players a fresh perspective on their position. Just curious.

Coaches from one staff occasionally will speak to players on the opposing team in joint practices. I’m sure at some point there are words spoken that could be construed as coaching. But this is an area where most coaches I know would tread very, very lightly.

Jeff from Mebane

Sad news about one of the sportswriting greats, Don Banks, passing. Any stories on him? I'm sure you two have haunted some of the same places.

Longtime NFL writer Don Banks – who worked at the St. Petersburg Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and CNNSI.com among other stops – passed away Sunday in Canton, Ohio. It indeed was a sad day. I had known Don at least since I started covering the Jaguars in 1995, a time when Don was covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the Times – though we possibly crossed paths before that considering the small world that was Florida newspapering at the time. Don wasn’t among my closer friends in the business, but we had gotten to know each other better in recent years and I counted him as a friend. He was a consummate professional, an outstanding writer and he definitely will be remembered and missed.

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, the Jags signed another running back: Roc Thomas. However, he's suspended for three games. Huh? What am I missing here? Go Jags!!

What’s there to miss? The Jaguars signed Thomas to see if he could help the running-back position for the entire 2019 season, not just three games.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I know it's early, but have any players surprised you yet?

Westbrook has been better than I anticipated throughout camp, and Chark has been much better in recent days than I expected. If those two players are as good as they have looked, that’s a very good sign.

Bill from Jacksonville

John, I’m not saying the Jaguars should or will take into account (nor probably would most teams), but isn’t there something to be said about the production the Jaguars have received from Yannick since he has been here relative to his pay? He has basically given you Top 10 overall draft pick production on third-round salary. Fair or not, he has been playing at a discounted rate, and it appears he’s going to continue to do so.

The Jaguars’ side is they did take Ngakoue’s production into account. That’s why they offered him the contract extension they offered even though Ngakoue still has a year remaining on his rookie contract. Now, that wasn’t the contract extension Ngakoue and his representatives wanted, but that doesn’t mean the Jaguars didn’t take Ngakoue’s performance the past three seasons into account.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Bortles did not play well in all of the playoff games in 2017. Remember the Buffalo game? That is a performance that should exclude him from the possibility of a new contract. There were many games in 2017 where we ran the ball for entire drives and refused to let Bortles blow a game our defense could win. He was our handicap that season, and played well in Pittsburgh and New England. The entire year's resume was very poor and two good games does not get you $16.5 million a year. It was one of the worst front office mistakes in Jags history. Period.

A couple of thoughts on your thoughts. First, $16.5 million a year is relatively low for a veteran starting quarterback. Second: Bortles in the second half of 2017 absolutely played well more often than he did not, and the general buzz was that he was improving. That doesn’t mean the contract was a good thing. Obviously, it was not.

Braddock from Jacksonville

Just talking about lineman, which is where all football games are won. Gimme the SEC, Miami, Florida State and Clemson. That's all I can draft from and I'll deliver you a Super Bowl in five years starting from nothing. It's not that difficult.

“OK,” he said, laughing.

Steve from Nashville, TN

How do incentive bonuses written into a player's contract for reaching certain performance targets count against the salary cap?

Incentive bonuses count against the salary cap. What generally happens is incentives earned in one year count against the following year’s cap. That’s true except when the league is in the final year of a Collective Bargaining Agreement, in which case a team must allow room under that year’s cap to allow for incentives to be paid.

Mark from Ponte Vedra and Section 215

Thanks to your knowledge and insight your readers were way ahead of the curve on Ngakoue. Good job during the dead zone.

Every once in a while I like to throw the readers a bone.

Scott from New York City

We had our chance? Looks like a certain young pass rusher wants to play on the tag and then leave town? That’s a shame. Do you think cooler heads will prevail or is it going to fester during the year?

I would caution against reading too much into Ngakoue’s press conference Sunday as him saying he wants out of Jacksonville. First, Ngakoue didn’t seem all that mad. Second, money has a way of healing a lot of wounds. If the Jaguars offer Ngakoue what he wants, I imagine he would change his mind and sign – though I realistically don’t expect the Jaguars to up their offer right now. Either way, this one still has time to play out. It was never going to be easy. There always was a real chance of Ngakoue playing for a while on a deal he didn’t like, just as there remains a chance of the Jaguars using – or threatening to use – the franchise tag. The good news for the Jaguars is Ngakoue will be prepared and play at a high level. The good news for Ngakoue is he eventually will get a very big raise – just as not as soon as he would like.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

Did you ever have the urge to walk in the locker room and yell “Hey Josh”? The Jags have enough Josh’s to make a basketball team.

No, I don’t have that urge. Because I’m not seven.

Joe from Fantasy Land

Mr. Oehser: I've designed a sports/fighting video game with you, Shadrick, and Frenette as characters. Please don't sue.

Where J.P. Shadrick and longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette are involved, it’s no game.

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