O-Zone: Path to paradise

JACKSONVILLE – Call this an all-Foles-all-the-time day.

Some Jaguars observers love the reported news that the Jaguars will sign Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles as an unrestricted free agent sometime this week. It is the unavoidable nature of this forum – and of the critical, instant-expert age in which we live – that just as many Jaguars observers hate the move. Indeed, fans gonna fan.

And thank goodness for that.

Let’s get to it …

Jim from St. Augustine, FL

If Foles leads us to the Super Bowl, I wonder if he will still be overpaid?

We indeed have a bit of lost-in-the-weeds stuff going on with the reaction to – and analyzing of – Foles’ contract. The Jaguars reportedly will pay Foles $88 million over four years with potential to earn $102 million and with guarantees of $50.1 million. It’s a big contract and represents the most guaranteed money ever in a Jaguars contract. Is it too much? Should the Jaguars have offered Foles less and been tougher in negotiations? Perhaps, but the reality remains he is being paid middle-of-the-pack money for a veteran starting quarterback. We’ll know more about the structuring of the contract in the next few days, and that undoubtedly will help cement – for now – the narrative on whether the Jaguars signed Foles to a good or bad deal. Bottom line: if Foles leads the Jaguars to the playoffs, $21-22 million will be cheap. If they go 6-10, $10 million would have been expensive.

Charlie from Jacksonville

Hey John, I try to support the team regardless of the circumstances, but I'm not confident that Foles is the solution to anything – especially for the reported amount of his contract. I don't really consider myself an expert, but color me underwhelmed. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see, eh?

What would have whelmed you? Doing nothing?

Keith from Jacksonville

If/when the Jags sign Foles, or any other free agent, given the NFL rules prohibiting player contact with coaches and staff (excepting strength coaches and trainers as I recall to rehab injuries), to what extent can the player meet with coaches to get oriented to the team, receive playbook, etc? How do the rules guide coach contact when onboarding a player before the start of team workouts in April?

Players can receive a playbook and they may meet with coaches briefly when they are in the facility to sign their contract, conduct an introductory press conference, etc. Beyond that, they are subject to the same offseason rules as a player who was with the team the previous season. That means any player signed as a free agent can’t begin meeting with coaches until April 15 – the designated start of the Jaguars’ offseason program.

Scott from Rehoboth Beach, DE

Hey O: Of course we are all going to have our doubts and concerns with this massive signing for Foles. Fans gonna fan. But if the guys upstairs think this will help bring home a title, then by all means "go big or go home."

Cleverly said.

Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436

How can this be a two-year contract? If I'm not mistaken, the $50 million is spread out over the four years, meaning he would be $25 million in dead money after 2020. How does this not destroy our salary cap in the likely event the Jags stink again?

Early reports Monday were $46 million of Foles’ guaranteed money came in the first two seasons of the deal. If true, then it’s essentially a two-year contract. The details of Foles’ contract remain murky. Until that changes, we won’t really know the true nature of the deal. That’s also when we’ll know the full ramifications of the deal on the 2019 salary cap. Until then, it’s tough to know exactly how much money the Jaguars can spend in second-tier free agency.

Daniel from Urbandale, IA

Well, you can't say that the Jaguars aren't trying to fix their quarterback problems. Remember when everyone was complaining that we weren't willing to spend? That's clearly not an issue now ...

Fair.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Picking up Foles isn’t surprising. The cost (at least to me) is very surprising. Foles has essentially been a backup quarterback, yet we signed him for an annual salary that exceeds that of Ben Roethlisberger ($21.9M), Philip Rivers ($20.8M), and Tom Brady ($20.5M). Seems like a high number for someone who, statistically at least, is only marginally better than Blake Bortles. For Foles to be successful here, we must beef up the offense – especially with a tight end, the right side of the offensive line, a receiver or two, and maybe another running back. My question: how much will Foles’ salary impede the effort to fill these offensive need positions?

At this point, if you believe the cost for Foles was too high, nothing likely will change your mind until next season. As far as filling offensive need positions, I never have expected a huge help in that area from free agency. Even if the Jaguars find a way to be creative with the cap, I don’t know that there’s too much available in free agency worth the effort.

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, I am very happy for the Jags and Nick Foles. Some people are upset we "overpaid" for him. Don't lowball a guy you want to be the face of the franchise. A classy move. The Jaguars have won four playoff games in their history. Foles has won four playoff games in the past 14 months. I worked for a major company for 20-plus years. We had a great CEO who said he hired people who others wanted to see succeed. I think that man is Nick Foles. Go Jags!

The Jaguars have won seven postseason games, but hey … one (mathematically challenged) fer Foles …

Mark from Prescott, AZ

John, I wish they had gone another direction at quarterback. Time will tell the wisdom of the Foles signing, but I choose to be positive and hopeful. For the sake of the Jaguars, I hope he performs above all expectations. He's ours now and I will be in his camp until he gives me good reason not to be. I pray for fan-base patience. Welcome to Duuuval Nick!! Godspeed.

… and one somewhat hesitantly maybe even reluctantly fer Foles …

Matt from Brennan, IN

John, I hate this deal, and I think we cut key pieces and handicapped ourselves for future signings in order to sign a barely-above-mediocre-and-incredibly-inconsistent quarterback. Once Foles signs his name, he's my QB and I'll cheer for him and the Jags, but my confidence in the decisions of the front office is shattered. But here's to hoping they are right, that Foles is a franchise guy. Haskins is not, and we didn't need a defense anyways.

… and one very, very reluctantly – and somewhat despondently and bitterly – for Foles …

Vinny from Jacksonville

This “overpaid” stuff is a joke. Everyone who signs during this period annually people say “overpaid.” It’s the NFL; guys make a lot, enjoy the games.

… and one strikingly reasonably for Foles …

Mark from Green Bay, WI

Here we go again (head in hands, shaking).

… and one somewhat dramatically not fer something

Jason from Thousand Oaks, CA

Ah shucks, we signed a Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterback to middle-of-the-market dollars. Woe is me. Please.

… and one somewhat optimistically for Foles …

Logan from Wichita, KS

That settles it. Our front office is made up of idiots. $88 million on a QB that is BARELY better than the one we have and he sucks... We have 4 great players that are in line for a pay day... YET WE BLOW THE ENTIRE BUDGET ON A DUD QB!!!!! Obviously they want to tank long term!!!!!

… and one very characteristically and somewhat redundantly not fer anything.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Heard we unofficially overpaid. When will we know that we officially overpaid?

The Jaguars officially overpaid when they chose to participate in free agency. So did every other team that participated in free agency. It’s unavoidable.

John from Cape May Court House, NJ

When I proposed the Jaguars should draft Kyler Murray, the response I got from you was, and I am paraphrasing here, "you draft based off of odds and precedent and that his height would make selecting him too risky." So if we're playing the odds, tell me, outside of Drew Brees and perhaps Kurt Warner, when ever has signing a quarterback in free agency worked? I wonder what has better odds of success; drafting a quarterback in the Top 10 or signing a free-agent quarterback whose previous team let him walk?

Peyton Manning signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos and Joe Montana signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, but your point is valid. Signing a free-agent quarterback is a gamble. Drafting one in the Top 10 is a gamble. A franchise quarterback is NFL nirvana. There are few risk-free paths to paradise.

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