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O-Zone: Perks of the job

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Let's get to it … Mike from Isle of Palms, SC:
Quick question, John: Would it make sense to do it if we could get a Sam Bradford, Josh McCown, etc., at a reasonable price? Not as a replacement for Blake Bortles but as a quality backup until we can draft and develop a quarterback?
John: A question about your question: "What is a reasonable price?" While the question can be posed in response to many NFL roster questions, it's particularly pertinent when it comes to the Jaguars' backup quarterback position this season. Remember: This team is trying to manage salary-cap space to re-sign players such as wide receiver Allen Robinson and cornerback Aaron Colvin in the coming weeks – and possibly to try to pursue free agent(s) from other teams on or shortly after March 14. I would be surprised – nay, stunned – if the Jaguars are in the market for a high-profile, high-priced backup quarterback this offseason. Also, don't look at this year's draft and think the Jaguars are selecting a quarterback to develop him as a starter; the Jaguars may look at quarterback later in the draft, but it's very unlikely they would do it early.
John from Cocoa, FL:
Big O, I noticed an article said Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette ran for over 1,100 yards in his rookie season, and it made me wonder: What running back holds the record for most yards in his rookie season? I can think of a couple of Jaguars backs who had great rookie-season yardage – i.e., Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Thanks for the O-Zone; I love reading it each day.
John: Eric Dickerson's 1,808 yards rushing as a rookie with the Los Angeles Rams in 1983 remains the NFL's single-season record for a rookie. Taylor holds the Jaguars rookie record for yards rushing in a season with 1,223 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1998 while Jones-Drew rushed for 941 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie in 2006. Fournette actually rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns this past season.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I find it interesting that Bortles' toughness does not hold more weight with many of his critics. This is football. At any other position, if a guy is a smash-mouth player, his shortcomings are often overlooked due to his toughness or durability. In fact, those players are usually celebrated. I question the credibility of anyone who suggests Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith are tougher than Bortles. The Bortles question is an interesting one. Anyhow, GO JAGS!
John: Bortles' toughness often is overlooked – or at least, unmentioned – by his critics for the same reason critics usually omit things: because it doesn't support the argument for why they are criticizing a thing. Also, toughness at the quarterback position is understandably overshadowed by accuracy, decision-making, etc. But make no mistake: wherever Bortles' critics rank toughness and availability among his attributes, the Jaguars absolutely value both.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I keep hearing opposite perspectives on Bortles' contract. Many say it's a team-friendly, hometown discount deal. Others say it's too much to pay for a mediocre quarterback. When I look at his contract compared the APY of other quarterbacks, it seems like it's pretty fair to both sides. There aren't many quarterbacks making more than him that don't make sense ... Ryan Tannehill for one, maybe Derek Carr based on last year and possibly Jimmy Garoppolo based on his limited sample size. Other than those, everyone on that list is fairly obviously better and more deserving of a bigger deal than Blake Bortles. Seems like this deal is friendly to both sides.
John: It's absolutely a good deal for both sides. That's why people who analyze such things struggle to analyze this: it's easier to say something is awful or great – or that someone lost or won – than to say that perhaps two sides reached an equitable agreement: It doesn't fit our there-must-be-a-winner-and-someone-must-be-humiliated society. Oh well.
Bob from Sumter, SC:
I think the Jaguars are handling Allen Robinson's negotiations the right way. He is a really good receiver and I hope they sign him – but he's not an elite, game-changer. Didn't the 2017 season show that when teams adjusted their defense against him he had a more difficult time getting open consistently? I think some team might end up overpaying like the Jags did when they were desperate to upgrade their roster in the past.
John: This likely is a factor in the Jaguars' thinking with Robinson. The team likes him a lot. They want to keep him. They know they are better with him on the roster than without. Still, there are some unrestricted free agents out there that would make the Jaguars better, too – and the fact is you can't pay every player that would make you better cap-strapping, elite-level money. If Robinson were an elite, game-changing player, then I have little doubt the Jaguars would pay him upwards of $14 or $15 million a season. While he's very good, he's not that – and that's what will make this decision and the negotiations so difficult.
Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
John, a thought on pass-interference yardage. In basketball, they have the flagrant-foul rule. With pass interference, a flagrant would be a spot foul – and a standard, "didn't-get-his-head-around-in-time" pass interference would be a 15-yarder. I realize it would take judgement on the referees, but there has to be something better than the increasing number of game-altering calls that are happening now.
John: I don't hate the idea, because it could take away the chance of defensive backs intentionally tackling wide receivers to prevent a 40-yard gain because they know the maximum penalty would be 15 yards. I think the league eventually will experiment with something like this, though I don't see it happening immediately. This is a pretty dramatic, game-shaping rule. The league typically progresses slowly on those.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
Dave Caldwell has done a pretty good job in my opinion in the draft. It's hard to believe he'll let arguably the most talented offensive player he's drafted walk.
John: Your first sentence has nothing to do with the other, and the second sentence has nothing to do with the core issue here. No one around the Jaguars wants the team to lose wide receiver Robinson; the Jaguars wanting Robinson is not the issue. The issue is whether they believe it wise to keep him at the cost they will have to pay to do so.
John from Jacksonville:
As I read comments from fans, I think some are not satisfied unless we have 22 Pro Bowl-caliber players ready as starters. I don't think any owner can pay the cost for that or even come near that. Personally, I think we are going to be very surprised at how good our offense is next season with more experience playing together.
John: You're right on this front: fans of every team every offseason want every position upgraded no matter the cost. That's not realistic. Take Jaguars guard A.J. Cann for example. He's a good player. Could the Jaguars upgrade that spot? Perhaps they could and perhaps they will. But say they draft a guard to replace Patrick Omameh at the other guard in the first round, draft a wide receiver in the second round and they sign a tight end in free agency. They could then theoretically pay $8 or $9 million to sign another guard in free agency to replace Cann, but you can't do be paying top dollar at every position. You must make choices. And yes, I think experience could help the Jaguars improve quite a bit offensively next season.
Jess from Castle Rock, CO:
l have my Jaguars gear just has the team name or logo on it. I'm not one to buy a jersey with a player's name on it. But after hearing Bortles say, "I said, 'We're getting paid millions of dollars to play football.' It's tough to pitter-patter about how much money you're making. It's all incredible. It's all a dream come true. We're all extremely lucky to do it," I'll be sporting a No. 5 jersey. Also, after the comments I read from Marcedes Lewis said, I'm going to get one with his name on it, too. I'm a big fan of people of character.
John: Hey, one fer character! And one fer buying a bunch of jerseys!
Mike from Eagan, MN:
With all this money being thrown around in the front office and locking up Bortles for three more years, how are you holding up? You, as senior writer, have been through thick and thin with this team and stuck through it all. When are we going to see news of your extension? And what is the risk of an Oehser holdout until you get more perks (not necessarily money, but corn dogs and Diet Coke)?
John: I mentioned a holdout to Jaguars President Mark Lamping once. When the hysterical laughing subsided, he excused himself and I wept a while. Then I had a corn dog.

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