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O-Zone: Not the best

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

Why is Baalke an inept GM? And the Jags, in franchise history, have had their best rosters with Tom Coughlin as the Head Coach or Executive Vice President. It's sad that in nearly three decades we haven't landed a solid GM otherwise.

Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke receives a lot of criticism in these part – and in other parts, for that matter. And it is vogue to blame him for all that ails the Jaguars. I'm not going to write that he's the Greatest General Manager in the History of All Mankind – and I don't know how to quantify that anyway. But there's territory between being the GGMHAM and being inept. The thought here is Baalke at minimum falls in that middle territory. Remember: Baalke arrived in Jacksonville with the Jaguars early in 2020 and took over as general manager on an interim basis later that year, assuming the role without the interim tag in 2021. He took over a franchise that went 1-15 in 2020 with what by any measure was a weak roster. It takes time to build from that. It's also often necessary in this era of the NFL to use free agency to build from that, particularly if you want to build quickly. Baalke from that start has built a Jaguars roster that in 2022 and 2023 turned in back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2004-2005. It's notable, too, that the roster has more playmakers and potential impact players than in most seasons since I returned to the Jaguars in 2011. I don't know how to assign credit or blame for every individual player on the roster. I do know the Jaguars made the postseason in 2022 and were a victory away from making it in 2023 after selecting No. 1 overall in 2020 and 2021. Does that make Baalke the GGMHAM? No. But he's far from inept – and it's probably fair to at least call him "solid."

Ryan from Iowa

If the Jaguars don't keep wide receiver Calvin Ridley, wouldn't it make the most sense to tag and trade him? Not sure how much would get back, but would think we would at least get a fourth or fifth in return. Thanks!

This tag-and-trade approach does happen in the NFL fairly frequently. Among the factors preventing the Jaguars from making such a move with Ridley this offseason is they may need to use the franchise tag on outside linebacker Josh Allen. Teams can only apply a tag to one player each offseason.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

How about we put Baalke over Head Coach Doug Pederson, elevate the new defensive coordinator (Ryan Nielsen) to head coach/defensive coordinator, demote Pederson to offensive coordinator and fire offensive coordinator Press Taylor? I bet we would win the Super Bowl and wouldn't cost a penny. Of Pederson might quit. Oh well. What would we do without Josh Pederson? That's the real question.

I don't expect the Jaguars to do these things.

Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

Hey, John. What's up. If the Jags don't re-sign Calvin and don't sign a wide receiver on free agency, do they receive compensatory pick?

Hey, Rob. Not much. While Ridley as an unrestricted free agent indeed figures into the NFL's compensatory draft selection formula, that formula is based on free agency gains and losses in a given offseason. For a team to gain a compensatory selection in the following offseason's NFL Draft, that team must lose more than it gains in free agency. So, while the Jaguars might gain a draft selection next offseason if Ridley signs elsewhere, that probably only happens if they do little-to-nothing in the same free-agency period. I expect the Jaguars to be active enough in free agency in 2024 that they won't likely have a compensatory selection in 2025.

Bill from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Do you like J.P. Shadrick? Are you guys friends?

He's awesome.

Mike from Azores

Hey John, let's think big picture and outside the box on this one! The NFL is the biggest game in town without much debate. How can it continue to grow? Extend the season! Now hear me out! The No. 1 revenue stream benefiting both the owners and players is television revenue. To increase that number significantly requires more games over more weeks! The current 17 games over 18 weeks seems to be a practical limit for player health. But, how about 17 games over 22 weeks? My proposal is roughly that each team plays three games in every four-week period basically resulting in five bye weeks spread over a five-and-a-half-month total league schedule. There are now four additional weeks of games generating additional TV revenue! Players have more recovery weeks during the season, resulting in healthier players missing fewer games! Do away with the preseason games and this new schedule is basically the same length of the current preseason and regular season. The result: Same number of games for the players with additional bye weeks to benefit player health, more weeks of NFL games to generate more television revenue for both the players and owners! What's your thoughts?

While remembering that we are working hard here these days in the O-Zone to "be nice," and while not trying to be insulting or dismissive, this is among the more appalling NFL-related ideas I can recall. While observers may not like preseason games, you need at least two or three of them – or some similar substitute – for evaluation purposes. Mostly, though: While five bye weeks might sound palpable when written, I doubt it would play well in fact. You would have an extremely diluted weekly schedule, and it would cause a lot of confusion among fans. For those of us old enough to remember, the NFL had two bye weeks in 1993. That season from this view dragged – and for teams with byes close together, it gave the feeling during stretches that the team hardly ever played. This feeling would be overwhelming with five bye weeks.

Josiah from Plymouth NH

If the Jags shopped inside linebacker Foye Oluokon around for more draft capital and freed up cap space – I guess hoping Ventrell Miller and Chad Muma step up – would you do that now get something out of him now aside of getting nothing for him later?

Oluokun has been one of the Jaguars' most reliable and consistent players the last two seasons. I wouldn't trade him if I wasn't confident that Miller and/or Muma would be as reliable and consistent. Acquiring later value matters. But sometimes it doesn't matter as much as getting immediate production.

Troy from Dover, PA

What current players do you possibly see as being cut or traded to make cap space for free agency?

Safety Rayshawn Jenkins and right guard Brandon Scherff. This is not because they're bad players, but because their contracts upon signing in 2021 and 2022 were structured in such a way that them moving on after this season was possible – and even likely. Left tackle Cam Robinson's salary-cap figures makes him a possibility here, too.

Jeremy from Riverview

Mr. O, do you think the Loss of Kirk, while inarguably a huge factor in the second half slide for the team, may have opened things up for Engram to finish with the stats that he ended up with? Kirk is more of a slot receiver, making his money across the middle of the field as often as not. With him out, do you believe Engram adopted that role, benefiting from an overall lack of production in the middle of the field on offense?

Tight end Evan Engram without question became more of a factor in the Jaguars' this past season offense after Kirk's Week 13 injury. He had 50 receptions in the final six games of the season compared to 64 in 11 games before that. He was targeted 10 times per game over the last six games. I don't know that this was due as much to Kirk not being in the middle of the field as Kirk just being absent from the offense during that stretch. Lawrence in 2022 had great trust in Kirk, Engram and wide receiver Zay Jones – and that trust showed in the offensive continuity the team had at times that season. With Jones hurt much of 2023, that left Engram and Kirk as receivers in whom he appeared to have implicit trust. With Kirk out, that left Engram. That was good for Engram statistically, but an argument can be made that the Jaguars' offense isn't at its best when it's that dependent on Engram – or any one player.

John from Jacksonville

Hi KOAGF - I was enjoying your "best moments" series but then you got lazy. You lumped the entire defense into one category after splitting the offense into several. Then, on top of that, you didn't have a feature article on "your" best moments. Just wrong.

I split the series the same way last season. I have no best moments.