JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
CaptBob from Jax
So, Jalen Hurts gets a $255 million five-year deal, $51 million a year. So, what can Trevor expect to get? And what does that do to the cap and retaining other players?
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts indeed reportedly will sign a long-term "second" contract Monday with the parameters you mention. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence can't sign a long-term extension until the 2024 offseason, but if he develops and has the season many expect in 2023, I expect he will sign a contract at least in the range Hurts signed. And considering the escalating nature of NFL contracts/markets, it could well be a touch larger. As for how such a contact will affect the Jaguars' salary cap, it's hard to know specifics until it happens – and we don't yet know the specifics of Hurts' contract, though he reportedly received $179.3 million in guarantees. But we can use the contract of Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes as a rough guide. Mahomes in 2020 signed a 10-year, $450 million contract with $141 million in guarantees. The Chiefs structured the contract so that it had $5 million and $7 million salary-cap hits in the first two seasons, with $35.7 and $39.6 million hits in 2022 and 2023. The hits are obviously huge, and all teams with quarterbacks on megacontracts eventually must face the same issue. One way to handle it is to draft and develop well, then wisely choose which core players to keep and which to replace. Teams also typically have used creative ways in the form of bonuses to provide short-term cap flexibility as contracts move into later seasons. Also: The cap typically goes up each offseason – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot – so what seems an absurdly high cap hit one year might seem less absurd five years into the future. A bit less, anyway. Comparatively speaking.
Mike from Omaha, NE
Last year, we drafted players in the first round who had huge upsides but needed further development to hit their potential. Since we were in a rebuilding stage, those selections made great sense. This upcoming season, we are hoping to compete for a conference championship and more. Would this make us less likely to draft a player, at least in the first couple of rounds, who would be considered a project, rather than someone who can "hit the ground running?" Thank you, John.
Fans and observers often view the NFL Draft and player development differently than coaches and personnel officials. While the Jaguars indeed will enter the 2023 season hoping for deep playoff run, I doubt that will dramatically change their approach to the 2023 NFL Draft. Nor should it. Remember, too: Most rookies drafted into the NFL fit your description of needing further development to hit their potential. There are exceptions, and positions such as running back and cornerback often make quicker contributions. But if you're going to get the most out of your draft and develop a competitive roster, you need to analyze and project players over the long-term – or at least over a four-to-five-year period. I don't expect the Jaguars to change that approach this offseason just because they are perceived to be closer to contending for a conference championship game or more.
Bob from Sumter, SC
I think the No. 24 pick is a sweet spot for an interior offensive lineman if there is someone the Jaguars really like. There were times last year in short-yardage situations when they couldn't get the push to move the chains. That's my deep dive draft analysis after watching no film whatsoever other than true crime shows on Netflix this offseason.
Ray from Newport News, VA
Cap question! I thought Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke did a nice job restructuring the contracts needed to keep the core of the team in place, but I am a little puzzled by the recent restructures. To my knowledge Mr. Khan is not considered a penny-pinching owner (recent contracts and upfront money as proof). I love that we can push money out as needed but if you are already under the cap and have enough to cover expected rookies, why would we push more cap money out to the future? Wouldn't it make sense to maximize this year's cap amount? I know there is a "rolling" cap, but it is too complicated for me to understand. Why leave $8 million in cap space this year only to push it out? Maybe we have other players we are targeting and need the extra space?
You're right that Jaguars owner Shad Khan is not a "penny-pinching" owner. He is, in fact, quite the opposite. A rolling cap essentially means that whatever salary-cap space is unused in one league year "rolls" into the following league year. And so on. As for why the Jaguars restructured contract this offseason, the objective was to create flexibility in the short term, to be able sign the 2023 draft class and leave room for other maneuvers. That doesn't mean any specific maneuvers will happen. But there's little – if any negative – to having the cap-space to make them.
Keith from Saint Augustine
The following is a realistic draft for the Jaguars: (24) Deonte Banks, cornerback, Maryland; (56) Derick Hall, edge, Auburn; (88) Matthew Bergeron, guard/tackle, Syracuse; (trade up-110) Jaquelin Roy, defensive tackle, LSU; (127) Luke Schoonmaker, tight end, Michigan; (185) D.J. Johnson, edge, Oregon; (202) Rejzohn Wright, cornerback, Oregon State; (208) McClendon Curtis, guard/tackle, Chattanooga; and (226) Bryce Ford-Wheaton, wide receiver, West Virginia. What do you think?
I think you nailed it. Wild.
David from Oviedo, FL
Zone - I think all the fans that send in comments about Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker being a bust or that his play has been disappointing should be given the opportunity to say it to his face.
That's not how it works. Nor should it work that way. Walker was selected No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. Being selected No. 1 brings the positives of a huge contract, lifechanging income and instant recognition – and it also brings the burden of expectations and the accompanying criticism. It often takes a year for even the best players to adjust to the NFL and start reaching their potential. Walker will have his chance to answer critics when the 2023 season begins.
Richard from Jacksonville
John, I have 22 hours of surgery scheduled over two days with a break in-between starting Tuesday. I apologize to you, but my streak of daily reading of your column is coming to an end. I hope to write to The Zone in a month or so and start another streak.
Good luck and fast healing.
Jason from North Pole, AK
In regards to players requesting trades, sometimes the grass is greener because you're not over there screwing it up. Perhaps that may be why teams are granting those requests more often than not.
I see we're again forgetting to be nice. This seems to be a habit we can't break. I also see that just because someone is not "nice" does not mean that person is "wrong."
Joe from Southside Jax
When publishing the mock draft predictions, why can't the list have the player, position and school and then list each mocker, their affiliation and date below to easily see how many have selected the same player? Just my two cents!
Maybe there's another free website where this can be found. Or it might cost two cents.
Doug from Jacksonville
Comparing Trevor's first year to last year's first overall pick… apples and coconuts. Trevor's position is so much more complicated and he had Urban Winer wasting his time. Last year's No. 1 overall unfortunately looks like he won't get a fifth-year option let alone a gold jacket. No. 1 overall should not be a "if he learns to play the position and gains strength and learns how to stop the stupid penalties and …..". I hope someone pulls out this question (statement) when he's a stud and everyone laughs at the overreaction, but my bet is there won't be that opportunity. No. 1 overall CAN NOT be a pick that starts with "if he learns and grows then maybe he can…."
Your boldness is impressive, and your opinion is undoubtedly shared by many. But neither boldness nor consensus matter much here. Defensive line/linebacker, while not as complicated as quarterback, absolutely is a position that can take time to develop at the professional level. Anyone with knowledge of the NFL who is being honest will tell you that, just as they will tell you with that one NFL season absolutely isn't long enough to project a player's career.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, I once saw Hall of Fame Jaguar Tony Boselli do a 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 20-yard shuttle and three-cone in a single play. Do you remember that one?
I've known Boselli a minute. No way did he voluntarily bench press.