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O-Zone: Plain and simple

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Gero from Wenden, Germany

Hi, John. In one of the free-agency reports on you write, "Jack will reportedly sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers." Under that foresight: Why didn't they try to make a trade with Pittsburgh? Thank you.

This was a major topic in the O-Zone this week after the Jaguars released linebacker Myles Jack, who then signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jaguars certainly would have traded Jack had there been a trade market. The issue is that trading players as the NFL League Year approaches is more difficult than many observers believe – for multiple reasons. One is that teams are reluctant to trade draft choices for a veteran if they know a team is going to release the veteran. The biggest is this: When you trade for a player in the NFL, you trade for the player's contract. A team may not want to acquire a veteran player with a high salary, but they might be far warmer to signing a player and negotiating a lesser – or more cap-friendly – salary. Jack had two years remaining on a five-year contract with the Jaguars. The Steelers wanted Jack, but they wanted him with a different contract. That's why a trade didn't happen.

Robbie from JAX

Why are compensatory draft picks awarded?

The NFL awards compensatory draft selections to "compensate" teams for losses in unrestricted free agency the previous offseason. The spirit of the rule was to ensure teams that lost players via free agency had a way to replenish the roster. It's a rather complex formula, with a simple explanation being that teams get a certain numbers of compensatory selections in an offseason if they are deemed by the NFL to have "lost" more in terms of unrestricted free agents than they signed the previous offseasons. Teams that gain more unrestricted free agents than they sign do not qualify for compensatory selections. The Jaguars haven't received a compensatory selection since 2010 because they always are partaking in unrestricted free agency in a big way. It's yet another sign that that they haven't been good enough for the past decade.

Ryan from Reality

John, you led off a recent column with "The Jaguars' future is now!" How many times have you written that sentence in the past decade? I'll bet it's at least five or six – and maybe more. When is this wonderful future actually going to turn into a wonderful present?

Yep, I've written it a lot. At least five or six times. When will it come true? We'll see.

Tom from Jax

With the depth of the draft at defensive end and offensive line, and the free-agency signings being made early, my guess was the Jaguars were going to take the top wide receiver with pick one and then flesh out the other positions in the second and third round … right up until their last free agent wide receiver signing. Now I'm not sure if they go for the top receiver at pick one. What says the O Man?

The O Man never thought the Jaguars would select a wide receiver No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. One reason the O Man felt this way was a wide receiver hadn't been selected No. 1 overall since the New York Jets selected Keyshawn Johnson there in 1996 and another reason was there doesn't seem to be a wide receiver likely to be selected in the Top 5 of this draft – much less No. 1. The O Man has thought for a while the Jaguars probably will select wide receiver with their second-round selection – No. 33 overall.

Don from Marshall NC

Does it feel like 2017 all over again? Let's hope we get similar results. Go Jaguars!

Don is "all in…"

Jim from Neptune Beach, FL

O, my take on the free agency spending is half measures were not what was called for. I'm sure a few of the team members (Andrew Norwell, Jack, DJ Chark Jr., etc) were decent players. I wish them well. But the team performance is what matters, not individual players. If we want the new Head Coach Doug Pederson/General Manager Trent Baalke built team to succeed, then they have to be given the players they want to build on, and not have to take the players, as a group, that under performed so drastically the last few years. I'm sure Pederson wanted to have a set of players that match up with the game design he has in mind. So, enough with evaluating what player last year had a decent year, or wasn't good enough. Onwards and upwards!

… as is Jim.

Marcus from Jacksonville

How much impact does the salary cap have anymore? It seems like teams can easily convert guaranteed money to signing bonuses or other things that don't affect the cap, so is the salary cap effectively non-existent? I'm confused as to how all this works, but if the owner is willing to spend, couldn't a team convert all their guaranteed salaries into signing bonuses and spend as much as they want, or am I missing something?

What you're missing is that the cap, while manageable in the short term, does have long-term effects on a team's ability to acquire and retain players. You can convert guaranteed salaries into signing bonuses, thereby spreading cap ramifications out and pushing them into the future. But those bonuses still count against the cap over the long term and eventually force moves that don't want to be made. If the cap didn't matter, the Jaguars wouldn't have released Jack. If it didn't matter, the Dallas Cowboys wouldn't have traded wide receiver Amari Cooper. The cap prevents the stockpiling of players and forced teams to make decisions. It's true that teams generally can keep players they really want to keep, but it definitely forces decisions that wouldn't be necessary without a cap.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, is there any hope that we have enough money left to sign the Culligan girl?

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX

KOAF: What is harder for you? Keeping your O-Zone streak alive or keeping your three miles a day running streak going?

I actually NordicTrack three-ish miles a day now when home (easier on an old man's knees) as opposed to running three miles per day – though I do run three miles a day when not at home. Either way, the seven-plus-year running/NordicTrack "streak" is far harder than the ten-plus-year O-Zone streak. I hate every step/ski stroke every day. Working out is stupid. I hate it. Writing is enjoyable. Usually. Sometimes. Occasionally. Whatever. Shut up. Who cares?

Daniel from Johnston, IA

According to Jason La Canfora, Jags are screwing up free agency again. "Total joke," one NFL GM said of their approach to free agency. "I don't understand what the hell they are doing." It really does feel that way to me, too. I like two of the additions, but I really don't understand how you let Chark leave on a one-year prove-it deal. Baalke seems intent on proving all his haters right...

Well, if Jason La Canfora wrote it …

Gary from Suffolk, VA

I don't get it, O. If we are active in free agency and let folks go, some fans hate it and complain. On the other hand, if we are not active and we keep the same roster, folks are complaining. We have the potential, in my opinion, to run it back like 2017. Protect the quarterback, he gets the ball to the playmakers. Tighten up the secondary, allows the pass rush to get to the quarterback. I say let's get this draft done, push forward and that will bring the FA talent to DUVAL. GO JAGS!!!

Everyone has roles. My role is to answer questions whether people want to hear the answers or not. My dog's role is to bark like an idiot at people who walk Liberty Street even though her opinion has no effect on these people whatsoever – and even though those people have every right to do be doing what they're doing. Fans? They fan. It's what they do.   

Steve from Nashville, TN

So, the Jaguars do not end up with the first overall pick in the third round. After nine compensatory picks are awarded to start the third round, the Jaguars now select at No. 10 – Pick No. 106. This dropping down the draft order seems to happen again in the fourth and fifth rounds after the Super Bowl-winning Los Angeles Rams collect four compensatory picks ahead of us throughout the later rounds of the draft. Somehow this does not seem right.

Compensatory selections are awarded at the end of each round after the third round. The Jaguars still hold the No. 65 overall selection, which is the first selection of Round 3.

Tom from Keystone Heights, FL

Will Walker Little play next year in the regular season?

He will if he is one of the Jaguars' best five offensive linemen.