O-Zone: No worries

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Naiz from Baltimore, MD

Things that have stuck out about free agency in the David Caldwell/John Idzik era: 1) Active participation in the first week of free agency; 2) Small market overpays that come with team-friendly options or easy outs; 3) Utter disregard for the compensatory picks system. We always tend to be the team cutting players or signing free agents, but not targeting other team’s released players, who don’t count against the compensatory pick formula. Why do you think that is, Zone? Is that just a domino effect of signing all these big contracts with easy outs? Few of them will pay all the way through, so you end up providing good players to other teams that don’t count against the compensatory pick formula by cutting them midway through their contracts. But then we keep signing free agents, not released players ourselves. It seems – even as far as free agency goes – unsustainable.

Your assessment is accurate. The reasons for the Jaguars’ recent free-agency approach are many-fold, but they center on the Jaguars for the most part during the past few offseasons being in roster-build, make-up-ground-immediately mode as opposed to draft-and-develop mode. This was by necessity because they hadn’t drafted and developed well for a long time. They participated in early free agency because they needed to upgrade their roster, and because the players they coveted have been unrestricted free agents as opposed to released players. They structured contracts with the ability to release players without significant cap penalties because they didn’t want to be in long-term salary-cap trouble. They haven’t been in a position to gather compensatory selections because they have been signing more UFAs than they have lost. While they ideally would draft players, develop them and allow them to become free agents – the core of the compensatory-selection system – they haven’t drafted well enough consistently enough to do so. And no … the way the Jaguars have approached free agency in the last three or four years isn’t sustainable. They must draft and develop better to sustain.

Sam From Winter Park, FL

Jags have to resign Bohanan. My plan is to hit 4 consecutive Powerballs, buy the team and rename it the Jacksonville "Fighting" Bohanans. I'll do what should have been done last year, Put Caldwell on a Tesla mission to the moon.

I never know what’s going on.

Hill from Denver, CO

Is Conley becoming one of your go-to’s? I ain’t mad about it

The Jaguars signed wide receiver Chris Conley as an unrestricted free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs last Saturday. I spoke to him that day and he left town. He is engaging, personable, quotable and intelligent. That has all the makings of a player who I will speak to often throughout the course of a season. Here’s hoping can play.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, you’ve written more than once that there is a disconnect between the team and the fans with respect to the Jaguars’ wide receiver corps. Can you discuss why the team has confidence in that group? Dede Westbrook looks like he’s going to be very good. But beyond that it gets a bit rough. Even Marqise Lee is a mediocre receiver and that’s at his best. What are your thoughts on this O?

The Jaguars believe DJ Chark Jr. will develop in his second season and that Lee is better than many observers believe. They also believe the entire group will improve with a year of experience and with more consistency at the quarterback position.

Chris from Space City, TX

O, what are realistic expectations for wide receiver Keelan Cole this coming season? He had a very promising 2017 followed by an abysmal 2018. Is it a fundamental or mental thing with him at this point? And does the team still have the faith in him that he can improve into at least a No. 2 wide receiver?

I honestly don’t know what to expect from Cole this season. He understandably appeared a bit overwhelmed by the NFL as an undrafted rookie from Kentucky Wesleyan in 2017, but then appeared to adapt to the bigness and speed of the game in the second half of that season. He struggled with drops and fumbles last season, and – as I have written before – seemed to revert to the game appearing too big for him after that. I never pretend to be able to get inside someone else’s head, so it’s hard to say if it’s more mental than physical. He’s very slight by NFL standards, but overcame that as a rookie. He is on a very inexpensive rookie contract, so he absolutely will get an extended opportunity this training camp to show he is more the 2017 version of himself than the 2018 version. I doubt the team is depending on him being a No. 2 wide receiver anymore, but they certainly hope he can be as good as he was late in 2017.

Jim from Jacksonville

Suppose an NFL team sees a player in the AAF who impresses, can they offer him a free-agent contract now?

No. Alliance of American Football players are under contract and NFL teams must honor those contracts. NFL teams typically would be able to offer AAF players contracts after the AAF season ends. Remember, though: It’s not as if NFL don’t know about AAF players. Most of those players have been on NFL teams or NFL camps. All have been scouted extensively. Some AAF players certainly will play again in the NFL, but a lot of them would have played in the NFL again with or without the AAF.

Jim from Jagsonville

Looks like the Arizona Cardinals are going quarterback in the draft. Would Josh Rosen be someone the Jaguars should look at as a backup Nick Foles? What would be a fair trade for a former first-round pick?

You wouldn’t trade what it’s going to cost to acquire Rosen if you want him as a backup.

Marlin from Newberry, FL

Hey Zone, What would it take for Calais Campbell to earn Hall of Fame honors? Is it too late at this point in his career for that consideration? Would a season similar to the one the last two years (All-Pro level), combined with a visit to the Superbowl do the trick? Or would he need more?

Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell realistically probably needs a couple of more first-team All-Pro seasons – and double-digit sack seasons – to get close to the conversation. And a Super Bowl title wouldn’t hurt.

Blues Man from Jacksonville

O-man... I need a little help understanding the O’Shaughnessy signing. I thought he has been very average at best. I’m honestly not slamming the guy, but wouldn’t a highly regarded tight end in the draft be a better way to go? I seriously hope he develops at a much better pace than what he has shown, and I hope I’m wrong. Just not getting the signing. Insight?

The Jaguars re-signed James O’Shaughnessy as an unrestricted free agent this past week because they need numbers and depth at tight end. With his signing, the team’s tight ends are as follows: Geoff Swaim, O’Shaughnessy, Ben Koyack and Pharoah McKever. That group in no way precludes the Jaguars selecting a highly-regard tight end in the draft.

Mark from Richmond, VA

New Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles has size and enough experience to get the job done. He provides two things I’ve wanted for a long time: a spiral, and he can throw receivers open. Do you think we should lean toward Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson as our first-round pick? Does he provide solid blocking and receiving? Killing two birds? Thank you.

I think the Jaguars should lean toward a quarterback in the first round, but I don’t expect that to happen. Beyond that, I would be tempted by Hockenson but I would probably go the traditional path and take the best offensive tackle available.

Kevin from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada

What makes more sense, or what do you feel is more likely: the Jags draft a tight end No. 7 overall with Pro Bowl upside (T.J. Hockenson) and a right tackle in the second round that may be a bit of a developmental player in 2019, OR get the right tackle (Jawaan Taylor) in Round 1, but get a less flashy tight end in Round 2 or 3?

I expect the Jaguars to get a tackle in Round 1 and a tight end in Round 2. Tight end is considered deep in this year’s draft and it seems there’s a good chance of getting a productive player after the first round.

Jeff from Keystone Heights, FL

The Jags’ staff would never telegraph their upcoming targeted positions or players in the draft. The fact that they allow you to publish your "guesses” lets me know they have zero concerns that you might actually get it right. :D

And even less concern that some might actually be reading this.

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