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O-Zone: Rule of thumb

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Fred from Jacksonville:
Zone, not to say you're wrong, but I'm still hearing conflicting reports on Julius Thomas. Did the Jaguars or did the Jaguars not pay him $3 million Friday? And is the organization now committed to him?
John: Well, Fred, it's sometimes OK to say "Zone, you're wrong." That's because on occasion I am wrong – and this was one such occasion. I was asked last week about various reports of Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas being due $3 million last Friday. I wrote here in the O-Zone that those reports were incorrect – and that Thomas was scheduled to have $3 million in guaranteed money kick in on March 9. There had been confusion on multiple media outlets on the issue all week, and my error added to that confusion. That "whoops" is on me, so apologies for that. As for Thomas' status with the Jaguars, that still remains to be seen. Yes, the $3 million guaranteed indeed kicked in Friday, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will return to the Jaguars next season. I still believe retaining him would be a good idea, but I'm still leaning toward him not returning. This remains a "stay-tuned" situation, guaranteed money or no.
Dave from Ponte Vedra, FL:
So, Zone, you make me wait all day Sunday and half the night for an O-Zone – and then no mention of it Monday? No explanation? What gives – or, in this case, "What gave?"
John: The O-Zone posted on Sunday evening rather than Sunday morning. Technical issues prevented it from being posted earlier. As is sometimes the case when the O-Zone posts later in the day, some readers expressed concern for my well-being while others spent the day hitting refresh and hoping for reports of my untimely demise. Alas, no such luck for those in the latter category. Move on. Nothing to see here.
Greg from Waycross, GA:
John, I bet if Blake sat on the sidelines with Tom Brady as the team's quarterback, he'd have some Super Bowls rings also. How well did all the other backups the Patriots traded to other teams work out? Jimmy Garoppolo is still an unproven quarterback.
John: A team trading for Jimmy Garoppolo isn't doing so because Garoppolo has Super Bowl rings. They're doing so because he's a former second-round draft selection who has shown good things in the time he has played. He is an unknown quantity with potential, so while you don't know for sure that he is good you also don't know for sure he is not. That means Garoppolo is not only an "acquirable quarterback," he's an "acquirable quarterback" who hasn't yet shown he doesn't belong in the NFL. That combination is rare enough in the NFL right now to make Garoppolo a valuable commodity.
Otto from PVB, FL:
John, I hope I'm wrong but it seems we are still trying to force a square peg into a round hole with Blake Bortles. I know comparing him to Brady or Ryan may not be fair, but the gulf between him and them is cavernous. Of Hoyer, Glennon, Nassib, and Taylor who would be a good pick to compete against Bortles?
John: Given those choices, I like the idea of Glennon. He showed good things in Tampa Bay before the Buccaneers drafted Jameis Winston. The question, though, is how do you feel about Glennon? Is he a franchise guy? If not, then how much are you willing to pay for him to be competition? Do you sign him to a long-term deal – or even a short-term one – for starter's money with the idea that he may not be a starter? Those are questions that will be asked before the Jaguars acquire a quarterback this offseason, and those are the questions that cloud the quarterback issue.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
John, can you ask IT to change the picture on the front page of the site? Every time it comes up it scares my dog.
John: I've been telling them to take my picture off the site for weeks. I'll keep at it.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
There is a lot of talk about Jimmy Garoppolo, which is surprising to me. As soon as I heard that the Pats wanted a first-rounder for him, I immediately thought that the trade was out of the question. Aside from a dramatic drop in the asking price, do you think there's even a remote possibility of that trade happening?
John: I do not believe the Jaguars will trade the No. 4 overall selection in the draft for Garoppolo.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
It's funny to me how fans will scream from the rooftops, demanding that their team sign the biggest and most-expensive free agents. Then, a couple years later, they'll climb onto those same rooftops to scream about how bad a particular free-agent acquisition turned out to be (see Julius Thomas). So, this year when the Jags don't sign every big-name free agent, maybe we fans should take a deep breath and realize that free-agent signings are like Russian roulette … sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you get ... well, sometimes you're not so lucky.
John: Yep.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
Hey John! I just wanted to say thank you for everything you do. I don't always agree with your comments, but I always enjoy reading them. Thanks for all the hard work you put into the organization. Go Jags!
John: Thank you. It's always good to hear from the twisted minority.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
If Jimmy Garoppolo is a franchise quarterback, why would the smartest coach in football trade him away? Feels like the Patriots are looking for a sucker to me.
John: I don't buy into this argument as much as I normally buy into the Buyer Beware theory in free agency. Because of the presence of Tom Brady, and because Brady seems very capable of playing three-to-four more years, it would be perfectly logical for the Patriots to trade Garoppolo for a first-round draft selection. There are other reasons to be wary of the trade – the risk of trading for backups to make them starters chief among them – but the fact that the Patriots want to deal a backup quarterback wouldn't raise red flags.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Jared Odrick's contract calls for him to receive a $2 million roster bonus in 2017 and a $6.5MM salary. When is the roster bonus due, beginning of the 2017 league year, when the 53 man roster is selected before the 2017 regular season or June 1st?
John: Odrick's bonus is due March 13, and he has $5.5 million salary guaranteed on that date.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Why didn't you think this last season was make-or-break for Bortles? To play that poorly in Year Three, I just can't see what you, Khan, and Caldwell are seeing. A lot of his completions were bad throws where the receivers bailed him out. I love the Jags, but I don't have any understanding of their approach to the quarterback position.
John: I don't think last year was make-or-break for Bortles for the simple reason that he struggled at times and he still has a chance to return as the starter. That wouldn't be the case had last season been "make or break." As far as what I am seeing in Bortles, I'm not sure how I could have been much clearer in recent weeks or months. I saw a quarterback who last season struggled at times. I have expressed doubt that he can be a franchise quarterback. I frankly don't know that he "deserves" a chance to win the starting job next season, but I do believe because of various circumstances he's going to get that chance. Based on how he has played, I also frankly don't know if he can develop into a franchise quarterback, but again: I think he will get the opportunity. Bortles must improve several areas pretty dramatically if he is to become a franchise quarterback. I have no idea if he will, but I believe he can. That's how I see him, and I believe that's how the Jaguars will end up approaching him this season – i.e., hoping he can develop and realizing that if he doesn't they must find another solution.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
What about this scenario: Jaguars trade down with the Browns' 12th pick and grab one of their second-round picks. Browns get their quarterback. Jags get a running back at No. 12 (Cook). Makes sense to me, what do you think?
John: I think I find it hard to believe the Browns would give up what would be necessary to move up eight spots to take any of the quarterbacks available in this year's draft.
Ryan from Dearborn, MI:
John, per your standard of "The rule of thumb in the top five should be to draft a player who you see being a core of your franchise for a decade," how would you grade the Jaguars over the past decade of drafting in the Top 10?
John: Not great.

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