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O-Zone: OK, relax

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Let's get to it …

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Why are the Jags playing hardball with homegrown players that are gems for this franchise? If we don't pay the players that we drafted what they're worth, then we don't deserve any of them. This is a real bad look.

You're looking at what the Jaguars are doing – or not yet doing, actually – with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey as "playing hardball." That's true in a sense, because the Jaguars haven't signed either player to a long-term contract even though both deserve major pay increases relatively soon. But what's continually lost in this is that both Ngakoue and Ramsey have years remaining on their contracts; Ngakoue has one and Ramsey has two. The Jaguars also have the franchise tag available to manage the situation. That's the Jaguars' leverage, and when a team's salary-cap situation is tightening, that team often must use the tools at its disposal. I firmly believe that the Jaguars will be willing to pay Ramsey market-setting money when the time comes – quite probably next offseason – because a strong argument can be made that he's the NFL's best player at his position. While Ngakoue has played very well in three seasons, and while he deserves a bigger second contract, it's difficult to argue he's the NFL's best pass rusher. The Jaguars do want to pay Ngakoue. The sides differ on what he's worth. From that sort of disagreement do holdouts typically arise.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Z: No. 91 says he's in God's hands, but it looks to me like he's in Roc Nation's hands. If he plays for two point whatever million in 2019, he needs to tell Ari Nissim and his Nation to take a hike (sorry).

Ngakoue would be gambling on himself playing this season for his current contract. If he has a monster season and parlays that into big guaranteed money, then that gamble will have paid off.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, how would you describe the feel of the team this year versus last year heading into the first preseason game?

The feel for both seasons: optimism, but for different reasons. But here's the thing: most NFL teams are optimistic in August. How teams handle the adversity that inevitably comes determines if that optimism was merited.

John from Jacksonville

I side with the front office with regards to the contract talks with Yann. If you don't want a lot, lot more money in your pocket sooner than we have to give it to you, then don't let the door hit you on the back side on your way out. I can't side with those who complain about the front office expecting them to jump when a player yells "jump."

The Jaguars aren't at the point of saying "Don't let the door hit you on the back side …" That would indicate that there's no chance of Ngakoue and the Jaguars eventually agreeing to a long-term deal. I don't believe that.

Braddock from Jacksonville

Personally, I wouldn't give any of these guys $100 million deals. Why? Because the Pittsburgh Steelers will be back in the playoffs this year while losing two fantasy players. Draft and develop. That's how you build a franchise.

That is how you build an NFL franchise, and that's what the Jaguars must do. You also can't let premium, franchise-defining players go. That's why I believe they will pay Ramsey, and why the decisions on other players are more difficult.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

Tudor makes a valid point. Are players often refusing increased salary for the upcoming year for the chance of more money at the end of the year? That definitely seems odd. Is Yannick really turning down a $14 million raise this year? That means his contract next year would have to be worth $14 million more than the contract he turned down just to break even. Seems strange.

Players often turn down short-term raises – even significant ones – in the pursuit of longer-term contracts with more guaranteed money. We usually don't know exactly what has been offered or what has been turned down – or even what a player is seeking. Leaked reports of such details often are imprecise. That doesn't mean we won't continue to make judgements based on what we don't know. Come to think of it, that's how most judgements are made.

Marlin from Newberry

Dear, John: I was surprised upon reading a piece on that Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone was No. 1 on their list of coaches on the hot seat. I don't get that feeling at all. Even if we turn in another losing season, I don't see him leaving (though I do think that will be the end of Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell). Do you believe that Marrone's seat is getting warmer or is this just another out-of-town hack writer (Will Brinson) who doesn't know the team and is just spewing forth clickbait?

Brinson is a good NFL writer, and I'm sure his list of coaches on the hot seat was relatively well-thought out. I guess I've just never understood hot-seat lists. Because of their easy-to-read nature – and because they include a lot of teams – I'm sure they draw a lot of traffic. But I find them sort of pointless in this sense: Most NFL coaches these days are going to be under intense scrutiny if they don't win. This is particularly true of non-first-year coaches, but it's increasingly true even of rookie coaches. In that sense, most NFL coaches are on the "hot seat." There are a few veteran coaches such as Bill Belichick of New England and perhaps John Harbaugh of Baltimore and Pete Carroll of Seattle who would be safe even with a double-digit loss season. But if you don't have that sort of sustained success with a franchise on your resume, the seat is going to get hot quickly if losses mount.

Mark from Archer, FL

John, I get wanting a rookie to earn his spot. But when you know a rookie is going to start like RT Taylor. To me it seems a waste not to put him with the starters practicing from day one to get more experience instead of running him with the second-string players? Am I off in my viewpoint on this?

Jaguars rookie right tackle Jawaan Taylor has worked more and more with the first team as 2019 Training Camp has continued. I expect he will work with the starters full time within a week or so – certainly by the final two weeks of preseason and first week of the regular season. I suspect he will get enough reps to be ready.

Joe from far, far away

Which is more likely? The Jags trade player for player, late round pick for player, or wait for cuts, to address the linebacker situation?

I doubt the Jaguars will address this via trade. Remember: They have lost just one linebacker for the season. That was James Onwualu. While he was competing for the starting outside linebacker position, his loss likely won't prompt a trade. The projected starters are Leon Jacobs, Myles Jack and Quincy Williams – and Williams is expected to return from a knee injury either Week 1 or soon thereafter. I could see the Jaguars addressing linebacker depth from the current free-agent market or following the cuts to 53. Unless the Jaguars sustain further injuries, a trade likely wouldn't be needed.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

If DJ Chark Jr. and Dede Westbrook continue to develop and the Jags' receiving corps overall becomes a position of strength, how much credit would go to wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell and do you think he would be a sought-after wide receivers coach among the league?

The better the Jaguars' receivers play, the more sought-after McCardell will become – and McCardell is a good enough coach that I think he's going to be coaching in the NFL for a long time.

Roger from London, UK

Hi, John. Which games are you most looking forward to in this season's schedule? Three on my list: One, Week 9 (Texans) at Wembley – as tickets already bought; two, Week 17 (Colts) at TIAA Bank Field, which I hope will be the title decider for the AFC South; and three, February 2, 2020; when Foles versus Bortles (Jags versus Rams) takes place in Miami!

I don't usually look forward to particular games on a schedule. At the risk of sounding like a head coach, a 16-game regular-season schedule with four preseason games is enough that I literally just focus on covering and discussing the game at hand.

Sean from Jacksonville

As long as camp doesn't become "Another One Bites the Dust," we should be OK. Is it spectacular right now? No, but we should perhaps get some inexpensive veterans to fill in the parts of the roster that are thinning out.

The Jaguars have lost one player for the season in training camp. One. This is not a crisis. This is football.

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