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O-Zone: Perspective and context

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Chris from Columbus, GA:
I am very alarmed with the amount of player turnover we are creating. I am not saying the players released (or not re-signed) were the greatest, but we are creating way too many holes that can be filled in the draft or free agency. Help me make sense of this, John. Are the Jaguars just going to rebuild from top to bottom?
John: I understand people are alarmed, and this is far from the only email I have received along these lines. The theme literally flooded the inbox after the announced release of cornerback Aaron Ross and safety Dawan Landry Friday afternoon. But while there is indeed alarm, it needs to be understood this is what rebuilding is. This is what a new regime is. This is what it is to have new decision-makers. This is what it is to set a new direction. This is what it is to clean a roster as much as possible before restocking. The Jaguars are moving on without Landry and cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Aaron Ross. They likely are also moving on without cornerback Derek Cox. I'd expect them to sign one reasonably-priced veteran on a short-term deal then reload the corner position with a lot of competing youth. I'd expect the same at safety with the exception of Dwight Lowery. I'd expect a similar theme at outside linebacker. Yes, that makes them thin at those spots right now. Yes, they will be young there. Yes, there may be players on and off the roster at those and other positions, but that's Head Coach Gus Bradley's vision for this season – a season of competition with the past not a factor in the decision-making. The reality of rebuilding and reloading is that familiar players may not return. That understandably leads to moments of change and transition and in such moments, and as with any change, there is understandably misunderstanding and alarm. At the same time, the Jaguars were 2-14 last season. Was it really reasonable to expect that in this entire first offseason there wouldn't be a day such as Friday?
Bob from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What is the logic for cutting your best safety to save $1.5M when you are $23M over the cap, and you have a very depleted roster to start with?
John: To quote new Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell from the NFL Scouting Combine, "There are no changes coming that are financial, the changes will be based on performance." I don't expect to have to get a new quote from him on these matters any time soon.
Larry from Section 118:
I just read we released Landry. I remember Caldwell saying that his evaluation is based purely on performance, and not if the player is overpaid. From my understanding, we took a $3.9 million cap hit for releasing Landry, but some people are saying we released him to "save money" and he wasn't playing up to his contract he signed. Which is it? To me it sounds like Caldwell is taking performance and money into consideration. Your thoughts?
John: To quote new Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell from the NFL Scouting Combine, "There are no changes coming that are financial, the changes will be based on performance." I don't expect to have to get a new quote from him on these matters any time soon.
Paul from Lohrville, IA:
Everyone is so very concerned with the secondary. I say that our head coach has a pretty good record for building a young secondary into one of the NFL's best. Let's give him a chance. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, so it looks like we need some puppies!
John: Yes. There is that.
Jeff from Fullerton, CA:
Are players that are released such as Landry and Ross taken into account when considering what type of compensation draft picks the team should get in the future?
John: No. Only unrestricted free agents are counted for future compensatory selection. A player who is released is not a UFA.
Patrick from Jacksonville:
Hey, if I make up a section number and add it to my name would you answer my questions more?
John: Probably not.
Brandon from Cocoa, FL:
With Ross and Mathis gone, what do you think the Jaguars do about the cornerback position?
John: The most likely approach will be to draft a player in the first three rounds, sign one veteran free agent at a relatively low salary and short contract, and likely have heavy competition in collegiate free agency elsewhere at the position.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Soon there will be no one of note left. The goal in pro sports is to keep your good players and acquire more. Please run this upstairs to the Jags' brass.
John: For now, our offices at EverBank are all on the same floor.
James from Orange Park, FL:
I am sick of all this pre-draft talk, which is supposed to be all fun and games, but isn't. What I am interested in knowing is when we are going to lock up our No. 2 pick to a contract and how much he is going to make? TELL ME.
John: That, we don't know, and probably won't know for a while – probably not until after the draft and certainly not until the Chiefs have made official their selection at No. 1.
Aaron from Fairfax, VA:
Another fan just wanting to thank and recognize Mr. Mathis for all he did.
John: Noted.
Andrew from Tampa, FL via Jacksonville:
With the release of so many starters, and not wanting "stop-gap" free agents, there will not be enough players obtained in the Draft and College Free Agency to fill all the holes created. With that said, we are going to have to go after some Veteran Free Agents just to compete. What am I missing? Your thoughts?
John: The Jaguars likely will sign a few veterans at some point in free agency, but probably not in the early days or perhaps weeks. Even if they didn't, there would be enough players obtained in the draft and in college free agency to compete. Now, will all of those players have names with which the fans are familiar? Perhaps not, but finding enough players to compete won't be an issue.
Peter from Section 242 Row C:
People upset that the Jaguars won't be signing big-name free agents are short sighted. The roster won't have enough talent to seriously contend for a championship this season or next. The only responsible option is to build a foundation for the future. With very few exceptions maybe Brad Meester and Greg Jones for short-term continuity and leadership. David Caldwell needs roster spots to develop players who could be key contributors in Year 3 and beyond. Most big-name free agents just don't fit into that category. John, why is this such a hard concept to understand?
John: I don't know.
Tariq from Jacksonville:
Is it too far off to think that the reason we are not going to be active in free agency is because a build-through-the-draft philosophy will benefit from the compensatory pick we may acquire next year.
John: It's a benefit, but not a reason. The Jaguars likely will get compensatory selections next offseason based on what happens in the next few weeks, and that will be a good thing. But it won't be enough of a positive to make it the reason for not retaining the players.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
You seem to have a very negative perspective on your wife and son. I hope it's sarcasm, otherwise I feel quite bad for you guys. Family shouldn't be a burden, but rather a blessing . . .
John: . . . says the single guy.
Troy from York, PA:
Everybody's ripping on Ziggy Ansah. I think out of all the defensive ends coming out he has the most upside even though he hasn't played long. He's the most athletically gifted pass rusher in the draft and has experience playing other positions. Am I wrong about this guy or am I not seeing what everyone else is?
John: Time will tell. Draft speculation is really just that – speculation, so for every person such as you who believes in a player such as Ansah there is someone else who doesn't. As for "everybody" tipping on him, you must mean fans and under-article commenters, so I wouldn't get real stressed about the commentary. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but pre-draft message/board internet buzz really isn't the best way to judge a player's future performance.
Dirk from Jacksonville:
John, as a Jaguars fan, I like to take statements made by representatives of the team and act as if I have lost the capacity for perspective and context. Realizing this, how can I better misunderstand what is being said, other than believing that the Jaguars (despite having stated their intentions for the draft, free agency, building the talent pool on this team, etc.) aren't interested in winning and are actually a gigantic practical joke being played on the people of Jacksonville?
John: Sounds like you're on the right track.

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