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O-Zone: Pugilist beginnings

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Wade from the Westside

What is the cap room looking like for the Jags next year with several huge contracts expected? Will our current problems carry over for the next four-to-five seasons? It seems like living in cap hell will eventually have very negative implications on the overall success of this franchise.

The Jaguars currently aren't in cap hell and they don't have cap problems on any unusual level. They released a few players earlier this month such as defensive tackle Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson and right tackle Jermey Parnell – all of whom signed as unrestricted free agents in recent offseasons. All had been with the organization multiple seasons and had played with the team about as long as was expected when they signed. It's quite likely the Jaguars will release a few veteran players next offseason for cap reasons. When you sign veteran players to long-term contracts and front-load the guaranteed money in the early years of the contracts, you do so to allow yourself to get out of those contracts before they expire. That has been the plan for several seasons, and that's not unusual in the current NFL. The Jaguars followed their plan; they did not mismanage anything. As for the future, the Jaguars in the coming seasons must draft and develop well to avoid having to spend heavily in free agency. If they draft and develop well, they will be fine under the cap. They won't be able to annually spend on veterans to the level they have in recent offseasons. No team can do that every offseason.

The Other Michael from Middleburg, FL


The Jaguars weren't interested in former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant last offseason. I don't know what would have changed that.

Brian from Jacksonville

While you discuss a number of free-agent and draft scenarios as viable, you consistently and correctly state truth about what the Jaguars' organization will actually do. So … offensive line it is. The University of Florida's offense and running game are not very good. I hope we get away from first-round mistakes from UF (overrated system and players). Is there a player (offensive lineman) not from UF at the top of the Jags board to consider?

The Jaguars will consider all of the players at the top of the draft, and there are several highly-regarded offensive linemen in the draft not from Florida: Andre Dillard of Washington State, Cody Ford of Oklahoma and Jonah Williams of Alabama. But before we get too deep into this idea of all Florida players being overrated … you don't draft or pass on a player because of where he played in college. You draft based on a player's skill set and how you project him at the next level.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Our free agency is about done, and it isn't yet draft time, so I've been pondering some really important issues. Like the history of No. 7 for the NFL in general and the Jaguars in particular. Our Jaguars have had some real standouts wear No. 7: Steve Beuerlein, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Byron Leftwich, and Luke McCown. I hope Mr. Foles doesn't carry on the tradition. I hope, at the end of next season, we are making comparisons to other wearers of No. 7. Ben Roethlisberger. Doug Flutie. Joe Theismann. John Elway. After all – coaching isn't everything in the NFL. It's jersey numbers.

Gabbert wore No. 11 when he played for the Jaguars. It rhymes, though.

Mark from Archer, FL

I have read mock drafts that have the Jags taking Jawaan Taylor from UF. You recently said he would start at right tackle. I may be wrong, but I did not think you took a right tackle that early in the draft. Has the philosophy changed or do you see him starting at right tackle his rookie year then moving to left?

Most analysts project Taylor as a right tackle, and I would expect that's where he will play not only as a rookie but in later years. You're correct that you typically don't take a right tackle so early in the draft. But sometimes need meets value and this could be one of those times.

Len from Harrisburg, PA

Big O: I think the Jags will go with a pass rusher. Let's look at the logic: the man in charge loves pass rushers and the Jags' hand might be forced. So, remember this: Arizona, QB Kyler Murray; Oakland, QB Drew Lock; New York Giants, QB Dwayne Haskins. That means the major pass-rush talent could pushed down to the Jaguars at No. 7. I wouldn't be surprised if BOSA is there. Or a top defensive lineman. That is hard to pass up for a reach at tight end, offensive line or wide receiver. If you use that scenario what is your pick now ?

If edge rusher Nick Bosa of Ohio State is there at No. 7, I think the Jaguars will select him.

Drew from Redding

_I keep reading all the negative comments about new Nick Foles, and that we have to draft a quarterback in the Top 10. Why? Look at the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL right now: only seven of them have started and won the Super Bowl. This is not including the ones that were injured or backups during the Super Bowl. Out of those seven, only three were first-round picks (Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers). Out of those three, only one was a Top 10 pick. Let's take the experience and the pedigree of winning in the fourth quarter and winning late to the uncertainty of a rookie quarterback. _

People who are negative toward Foles and wanting the Jaguars to select a quarterback in the Top 10 of the 2019 NFL Draft are probably going to be very disappointed. I wouldn't mind seeing the Jaguars select Haskins at No. 7 overall, but I don't expect it to happen.

Ben from Columbus, OH

Hey, John: I was listening to your discussion on Jaguars Today this week about the Jaguars possibly taking Haskins if he dropped to No. 7. I completely agree that you may not be in the top 10 in the next few years and that this may be your only chance. It seems everyone is talking about value of that quarterback pick or surrounding Nick with weapons, but after looking at the specifics of the Foles contract, I think there is a zero percent chance they take Haskins unfortunately. With a $34 million dead cap figure in 2020, taking Haskins and sitting him for two years just would never happen. Your thoughts?

I think you're correct and have written as much many times.

Steve from Duval

How is the guaranteed amount of a contract negotiated? Foles' $45 million seems like too much and essentially puts a stop to us drafting a QB for a few years. Am I wrong?

Guarantees are negotiated pretty much how most parts of a contract are negotiated. One side offers a number and the other side makes a counteroffer until they find a number that works for both sides. The Jaguars guaranteed Foles $45 million over three years. That's a little less than $15 million a year, which is pretty reasonable for a veteran starting quarterback. As far as the Jaguars selecting a quarterback, I don't think they will do it in the first round of this year's draft. There are far too many unknowns to predict future drafts.

Jose from Orlando, FL

I watched Creed 2 last night. I couldn't help but notice what a shell of a man Ivan Drago had become after our very own Eugene "Thunderlips" Frenette knocked him out 30 years ago in Moscow and ended the Cold War. One 'fer Drago?

Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette made his pugilist bones in the Golden Gloves in Philadelphia in the 1970s. He rose through the amateur ranks in a surprisingly sparsely-chronicled career, then without warning gave up the sport to pursue journalistic ambitions. The Drago-Frenette bout came about quite by chance, when Frenette casually mentioned at a press conference that he could "whup any chump in the room," prompting promoters to pit him against Drago. The fight was held in Madagascar, where Frenette's columns via mail-order had developed a cult following (the Madagascarians of the era were suckers for Gene's catchy turns of phrase). The fight got little play stateside because it occurred during a time when Mike Tyson dominated the boxing world. But Frenette – in his lone career fight in which he embraced the "Thunderlips" moniker he usually disdained – dispatched Drago 10 seconds into Round 2. Drago indeed never was the same again. Frenette returned to Jacksonville to chronicle local sports with a heavy emphasis on the Bolles School football program. I once asked him about the Drago fight. "Mention it not," came his reply, "for that is the past." When I pressed for more, he held up an index finger and more forcefully said: "Mention it not." Therefore, I did not.

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