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O-Zone: Quite the draw

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Scott from Aurora, IL:
Is the draft here yet? Free agency has, as expected, been a bust. Good players don't reach free agency.
John: I suppose I could begin this Free Agency Tuesday O-Zone with some quip about fans gonna fan, but nah … Let's just say this: While I'm as skeptical about the entire concept of free agency as anyone, I wouldn't call this go-round a bust. Not at all. The Jaguars' focus entering this process was not to completely overhaul the roster and build a foundation with high-profile, household-name free agents and the idea wasn't to get the first name on every Internet free-agent position group, either. The idea was to improve the talent level, and preferably to do it with what Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell termed "blue-chip talent." The idea was to use the much ballyhooed cap space to get better. I'm not ready to put the trio in Canton or even in the Pro Bowl yet, but a strong case certainly can be made that the Jaguars are getting better if they add these three players.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Can the team that has the first pick in the draft make their selection now, or do they have to wait till draft day?
John: A team can't technically make a selection before draft day, but the team with the No. 1 overall selection in the NFL Draft is permitted to make that selection known and begin negotiating a contract with that player. That means they essentially have selected the player except that the process hasn't played out officially.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Besides P.P. #51, who has the Jaguars hired in the last five years in free agency that has had major impact?
John: Good point.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
Who would you say is our best free-agent signing of all time, and do you think we will find better this week?
John: I'd say it's a tossup between Keenan McCardell and Leon Searcy, but I'd go with McCardell. No, I honestly do not think the Jaguars will find better this week. Not because I don't think the Jaguars can get very productive players this week. Probably, it has more to do with my bias. I covered McCardell and Searcy for a long time, and like each very much. I also believe those two players will be very, very hard to match in terms of free-agent productivity.
Scotty from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Wow ... it boggles my mind how people are whining about re-signing Alualu. … He is a good player with a high motor. Do they not watch the whole game? Just watch the big plays? He is a force on that d-line. Come on people. WATCH the defensive line play first … then whine. DTWD.
John: I'm sorry you're boggled. Being boggled can be very … boggling. There's really not much more to say about how fans feel about Alualu. Perhaps because of a lot of things that were not his fault, many fans are predisposed to criticizing him, and that predisposition has caused many to believe he's not a good player. He not only never has missed a game, he just was re-signed by a regime that had nothing to do with him being drafted. Bad, unproductive players without value don't get re-signed by regimes that had nothing to do with drafting them … but whatever.
Zain from Orlando, FL:
Regarding Jermey Parnell: $6 million a year with $13 million in guarantees for a 29-year old backup? He seems to have played well last year in Free's absence and looks athletic enough to play in zone-scheme too, but this seems way more than paying 110 percent value (seems like at least 200 percent). Is it highly incentivized? Please give me some redeeming news, Zone!
John: The details of the contract aren't yet available, and Parnell to the Jaguars isn't yet official, but value is a very vague term in NFL free agency. A player is worth what the market says he is worth, and when compared to a drafted player who you've developed, seen play and know intimately just about all free-agent contracts are usually skewed to a risky financial area. That said, the Jaguars liked Parnell the most out of the right tackles on the free-agent market, so they saw something in him that made him worth the reported investment.
Marty from Jacksonville:
If the Julius Thomas signing occurs as "speculated", is that the end of Marcedes Lewis in Jacksonville?
John: Not necessarily. While "tight end" is the phrase used before each player's name, Thomas and Lewis are very different players. Lewis is a very good blocker who hasn't been as good as a receiver; Thomas is a very good receiver who is not considered as good as a blocker. The two can co-exist in an offense. In fact, they can probably co-exist pretty ideally.
Alan from Jacksonville:
I just got a look at the Pro Football Focus depth chart for the Jags and it wasn't good news. According to them, we are the league cellar-dwellers with only three players (other than special teams players) that graded out to at least "good." The league average was more than 10. If we do snag Odrick, Thomas and Bulaga that would double our total of "good" players going into the draft. In your opinion, would that give the Jags enough firepower going into the season to at least go .500?
John: The Jaguars aren't going to do anything with Bulaga, much less snag him. If the Jaguars sign Jared Odrick, Julius Thomas and Jermey Parnell it would certainly upgrade three positions. At first glance, that would give the Jaguars enough to make a strong push for .500.
Dakota from Dupree, SD:
Well Zone, free agency is looking a lot like you said it will. Most of the big name guys will re-sign with their own teams. I thought the top of this free-agency class looked very good, young, and talented. Now it appears most won't actually hit free agency. Where did you buy your crystal ball? I want one.
John: No crystal ball needed – just some common sense, a memory and a sense of logic. Pretty much every team in the NFL knows draft and develop – i.e., keeping your own players – is the safest, most effective way to build a roster, and a deadline is still the most effective way to get deals done in football … and really, in anything. That means the last few days before free agency almost always will feature teams resigning their own players, particularly if those players are good.
Brian from Round Rock, TX:
I heard you on the radio. You like to say "again." It's annoying.
John: You can say that again.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, the NFL is a tough business. You have players that give their heart and soul to a team, only to be replaced, as soon as they get injured or past their prime. Business or not, it's got to hurt. Has it always been this way or was there a time when loyalty meant something?
John: It always has been this way.
Charles from Midlothian, VA and Section 410:
I am planning on taking the wife in October to Europe for our 25th wedding anniversary. I had been hoping MAYBE the Jags would be there, too, but alas, no NFL Schedule yet. THAT said, Wembley is selling tickets for a Jags/Bills game the 25th. Do they know something the team doesn't? Because it would be AWESOME if it was more like the 4th I'm not sure the wife would be happy about that, but I would be.
John: It sounds like you're going to be unhappy. While the NFL schedule hasn't been released, the date for the Bills/Jaguars game is indeed known and it is indeed October 25. Happy wife, happy life, right?
Jonathan from Scotland, UK:
O-Man, am I correct in saying that there is a salary floor in place now (90 percent of cap assessed over four years)? If so, would I also be correct in assuming therefore that – to some degree that I can't quite work out – the Jags actually have an obligation to spend a bit this season and next?
John: You're pretty much correct. Teams must spend to 89 percent of the league's cap over a four-year period. There's not actually a very severe penalty for not spending to it – teams must simply distribute the difference to players on the roster – but the rule is there for a reason and I'd be surprised if teams don't adhere to it. The Jaguars don't technically have to spend to any level this offseason, but really, it's a moot point. The Jaguars are planning on spending enough that honestly I don't think there will be much more talk about floors.
Corey from Charleston, SC:
While I was watching Jags of the Round Table my wife walked up and asked what I was watching. I showed her, she heard the music, shook her head and walked away...wife is gonna wife.
John: This is embarrassing, Corey, but it's an act – and one I actually hear about quite a bit. It generally follows a pattern. Husband watches video. Husband shows wife. Wife feigns "disgust" when O-Zone appears on screen. Wife sneaks to computer later to catch her some more "Zone." My appeal … well, let's just say there's a draw. I'll leave it at that.

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