O-Zone: On your own

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Stephen from Jacksonville

"Players are represented by the NFL Players Association and are therefore subject to collectively bargained rules." Do players who hold out or complain about their rookie contracts – then demand trades – know this? Why would the union force their members to accept a predetermined salary for a period of time after their initial hiring or agree to a practice that pays a player to extend the contract for one more year at their team's request? Are they really looking out for the players' best interests? As salaries continue to become more lucrative, at what point will players say "what's good for me is good for me," and dissolve the union that has agreed to rules that limit their career earnings based solely upon their college résumé and subjective opinions of their athletic capabilities? Since this is such an obvious problem in professional football (see Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue and Jamal Adams as just a few recent examples), when might we see a call to end the draft and allow players to enter their work force the same as the rest of world do: as free agent? Else, mayhap some players would be happier to choose a career in which the agreed-upon rules and bylaws are more agreeable.

You won't see the players' union dissolved, because the union has been integral to growing players' salaries to the level they are today. You absolutely will continue to see young players complain about their salaries early in their career, because young players often show early that they are playing at a level that warrants them being among the highest-paid players at their positions. If those young players indeed are good enough, they will be paid life-changing money four-to-six years into their NFL careers. The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement established the rookie wage scale that has limited players' earnings for the first four seasons of their career compared to previous CBAs, but that was done with the idea of enabling players to get paid more as their careers advanced – and to prevent young, unproven players from destroying teams' salary caps. And no … you're not going to see the end of the NFL Draft. Such issues require collective bargaining, and owners won't agree to that. Remember, too, when thinking about these issues: Not everything will favor all players and some things will benefit teams and owners. Why? Because it's a negotiation and there are two sides operating the NFL – owners and players. Each side much give a little at times. The franchise tag and rookie wage scale are areas where the players have had to give at times over the years.

Tucker from Gallatin

Hey John, I want to give Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan a shout out. I know everybody has him labeled as a bust. So, I tried to watch as much tape on him last year as I could. The first thing I noticed was that he was double-teamed more than I thought. He was also holding his ground against the double team. Then the Raiders, Colts, and Falcons games happened. I watched Bryan throw one offensive lineman off him while being double teamed and he still made the tackle. I hope he keeps the momentum going into the 2020 season.

The Jaguars thought Bryan showed progress last season, and that he played better overall than he had as rookie in 2018. And he absolutely played perhaps his best few games of his career late in the 2019 season against the Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons. But you didn't ask for that answer, did you Tuck? You just wanted to give him a shoutout. OK … SHOUTOOOOOOOOOUT!!!!!!!

Bruce from OhNoVille

Reading some of the letters you've posted and your response to Jesse about lost youth etc., reminded me of a Bloom County strip where Opus arrives at the Lost and Found desk of the local department store and begins to complain about having lost his youthful enthusiasm, lost his optimism, and asking what the clerk is going to do about it - and getting the wordless reply says: "Now that's great - I've lost my temper AND my sense of humor!" My thought? We NEED football.

Any "Bloom County" reference is a good reference, and yeah … we all need football in the fall.

Rob from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Jaguars defensive tackle Al Woods is huge. Woods being out is huge. We seem to have a huge hole to fill and are now very thin at defensive tackle. I really never would have expected an older guy on the first year of a new contract to opt out, but we must accept his decision. Some people or their families have conditions that make it more dangerous, I guess. It's just a bummer, though, zone. Would we want him next year? He is aging big guy. Would we want his current contract after this year, and would we have the option to discontinue after this season if that was the desire of the front office?

Woods opted out of the 2020 season Friday after signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. And yes … losing Woods indeed is important. He was expected to be part of a bulked-up interior that would help the Jaguars improve against the run in 2020, and he would have been the most veteran player in the defensive-tackle group. All is not lost for the Jaguars on this front. They also signed Rodney Gunter on the defensive line, and they selected nose tackle DaVon Hamilton in Round 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft. Hamilton in the long run is the most important offseason addition in this area, but the Jaguars clearly wanted Woods to contribute this season as Hamilton became accustomed to the NFL. As for Woods' future with the Jaguars … we'll see. He will be 34 in 2021, and he will be under a one-year contract in 2021 – the same one-year contract he signed this past offseason. The Jaguars can get out of that contract next offseason with minimal cost. Whether they will choose to do so, only time will tell.

Mike from Orange Park, FL

J.P. Shadrick, man or myth?

Shadrick is whoever you want him to be. Man. Myth. Role model to the young. Friend to the aged. Scratch all that. You know Shadrick is, Mike? Hope … and hope is a good thing.

Ray from Jacksonville

John: Didn't Wally Pipp decide to opt out for a day?

Pipp reportedly sat out of a 1925 game for the New York Yankees because of a headache, and was replaced by Lou Gehrig, who then started the next 2,130 games for the Yankees. That's a little different than opting out because of COVID-19, but there is an element of truth to your point. Players opting out in the NFL this season face a difficult decision. NFL careers are short. Some players are secure in their starting roles and roster positions for an extended period, but many are not. For a player not on a rookie contract, or for a player who's not a for-sure long-term starter, sure … out of sight can turn into out of mind very quickly. That doesn't make their decision to opt out wrong. All players must decide whether to play this season based on their own circumstance and acceptance of risk. But it does further illustrate why a player's decision to opt out is far from a no-brainer.

Mark from Sobieski

O, is there any thought or talk about possibly making the games like a pay-per-view? Since a lot of fans live out of the televised area and most can't watch the games at a bar (or where ever one goes to watch) due to the COVID-19, and only a quarter of the fans can come to the stadium, it would seem the NFL could make up some of the revenue loss by charging a fee to watch the games anywhere and in the safety of one's home...

This would surprise me. Revenue from television deals is more important than ever during a season with few fans in the stands. The NFL will tread lightly when doing anything to negatively affect their broadcast partners.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

You really think you're something, don't you there, big fella?

Yes. Yes, I do.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

If there is no season, could they do something like give the teams who selected in the Top 10 this year three balls, those who selected 11through 20 get two balls, and the former playoff teams all get one ball? How would they do this with the Jaguars who have two first round selections scheduled for 2021? How would they determine where the Jaguars draft from the LA pick?

I suppose they could do that. As for the specifics of your scenario … hell, I don't know. It's your idea. You figure it out.

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