O-Zone: Runt of the litter

ORLANDO – Let’s get to it … KC from Ukiah, CA:
John, emotions in the fan base are running high with all the moves during free agency. I am curious if you have ever heard an NFL personnel guy speak to a player's dissent in the locker room as a reason to cut bait on a talented player. I remember seeing some training-camp articles just last year that showed Allen Robinson being an outspoken critic of Blake Bortles during practice. Could "team harmony" have played any part in the decision to not pursue him as aggressively as they could have, or is it purely dollars and cents? Thank you for all that you do!
John: There certainly have been cases when an NFL player’s locker-room presence has caused him to be released – or to cause a team to be less prone to re-sign a player. But look: Robinson’s departure from Jacksonville wasn’t about that. Was he always thrilled with Bortles after every play, practice or game? Almost certainly not. But don’t make too much out of that discontent. Receivers are rarely thrilled with a quarterback after every play, practice or game; whatever Robinson’s level of discontent at times with Bortles may have been, I don’t believe it wasn’t nearly enough to have been a major factor in his decision. The factor was money: the Jaguars weren’t willing to guarantee Robinson as much of it as the Bears were. Period. And let’s reiterate something that should be remembered: while the losses of players such as Robinson, wide receiver Allen Hurns and tight end Marcedes Lewis are causing what I term “Lost Player Angst” among many fans, that angst isn’t shared inside the building. It’s just not.
Tank from Mechanicsville, MD:
How much, if any, of an NFL Owner's personal money is allowed/required to be spent on players or staff? Thanks O-Man.
John: As much as the owner wants.
Jerry from Riverview, FL:
Just curious. Last year, you defended the Jaguars selecting a tackle – Cam Robinson – in the second round that could play guard until he could grow into playing left tackle. In your mock draft, you're predicting a guard in the first round, passing on a couple of top-rated tackles, that can take over right tackle in a year or two. What is your reasoning?
John: Mock drafts are projections, not a philosophical statement. On the day I did that mock draft it seemed that Will Hernandez made sense for the Jaguars. I imagine some else might make equal sense in next week’s mock draft.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I understand Johnny Manziel could have had it all and blew it with his immaturity and partying. Today he claims to have put all that behind him – i.e. wife, child, and disciplined lifestyle. If you were the Big Boss, and Manziel offered to take a one-year, no-guarantee contract at league minimum, would you take the risk and try him as the second (or third) quarterback?
John: Your question seems to imply that decision-makers in the league or with the Jaguars might somehow have something personally against Manziel because he “had it all and blew it.” Somewhere in that wording it seems to imply the league might want to penalize Manziel or that it might begrudge him for his mistakes. That’s not how it works. How it works is that if a team believes Manziel can help them win – and if that team has done enough research to believe that Manziel has a chance to be on the roster and be productive long-term – then a team will probably sign him. I don’t know if the Jaguars believe he’s good enough – or disciplined enough – to do so. But if a team believe he’s truly ready, then sure … sign him.
Robert from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What do you think of the idea of trading our first- and second-round selections to trade up to get Quenton Nelson? Now THAT could be a heckuva offensive line.
John: The Jaguars would probably need to move up at least 20 spots to be assured of having a chance to draft Nelson. I don’t know that just relinquishing their second-round selection would be enough.
Al from Black Mountain:
The "lost player angst" is very easily explained. We really don't have much else to talk (write) about right now.
John: The Jaguars signed eight unrestricted free agents and lost fewer than that. They also released a couple of players, which means they parted ways with the players by choice. I note this not to make the point that I expect fans to focus on gains over losses; rather, I note this to emphasize the point that fans gonna fan. Always.
Justin from Virginia Beach, VA:
If we draft a quarterback in Round 1, that will cause a quarterback controversy for the best. BB5 played better than expected, but we can do much more and give our D rest with some better drives on offense. With that being said quarterback competition will be good!
John: I don’t expect the Jaguars to draft a quarterback in Round 1. I don’t believe the Jaguars believe the Jaguars need Bortles to be motivated by competition to play well this season. I believe Bortles will be the Jaguars’ starting quarterback next season. We’ll see.
Steve from Hilton Head, SC:
With all the interest in free agents, salary cap, etc. … Don't all professional athletes have to pay state income tax in the states where they play, even as the visiting team?
John: Yes.
Thommy from Miami, FL:
Hey, Oman. Just watched the AFC Championship again. LOOK: The Jags had the game STOLEN from them. The refs GAVE the Pats 14 points, and they still only managed a four-point "win." The truth is on the film. If you doubt me, WATCH the game again. I have. Myles Jack fumble recovery was a touchdown, which the refs blew dead – for NO reason. And the mystery pass-interference call on AJ Bouye - one of the best corner backs in the game - was PURE BS. Wasn't pass interference, receiver steps out of bounds, uncatchable ball. If they win the next 50 Super Bowls, will NEVER forget this obvious larceny. Am I crazy? Why isn't anyone else saying/seeing this?
John: You’re not crazy. As for why no one else is saying this … I suppose at some point you just have to move on or you drive yourself crazy – or start using capital letters in arbitrary fashion.
Justin from Virginia Beach, VA:
When are the new uniforms dropping?
John: The Jaguars’ new uniforms will be revealed
Saud from Jacksonville:
How improved have we become on the offensive side of the ball? We all saw the upgrades at tight end and wide receiver, but what about at running back? I don't feel Leonard Fournette is a finesse back like Maurice Jones-Drew was. Do you feel he'll be better next season at finding holes and being more creative when running the ball? His running style still seems to be very much college football-level where he just attempts to run into a crowd and try to barrel his way through rather than find holes.
John: I’m not sure Fournette’s style has as much to do with “college football” as much as simply being how he runs, but yeah … I do think it’s possible the Jaguars could add a running back in the draft. What’s increasingly intriguing to me as the draft approaches is exactly how early in the draft that might happen.
Vince from Jacksonville:
Let’s say hypothetically the Jags are on the clock at No. 29 and they can choose between a really good run blocking guard, dynamic wide receiver and multidimensional tight end. What position could have the most impact on the Jags, and which one would they chose?
John: If they’re all the exact same level player? I’d take tight end provided he was an equally good pass- and run-blocker. The Jaguars could get a lot of use out of such player in this offense.
Mike from Neptune Beach, FL:
I trust the leadership of this team but ... how many NFL teams have only one quarterback on their current roster?
John: The regular season hasn’t started yet. Or training camp. Or the offseason program, come to think of it.
Justin from Virginia Beach, VA:
So, after free agency, what do you think is our pressing need? I feel like it’s middle linebacker. We struggled against the run last season, and losing Poz in the middle will not help. A runt-stopping middle linebacker is top on my list. Then I would say a quarterback then a change-of-pace running back.
John: I’m all for stopping the runts. They’ve become a real issue as of late. Here’s the thing about middle linebacker, though. It’s only on the field about 30-to-40 percent of the snaps. It’s not that it is unimportant, but it might not automatically be a first-round position. I do believe the Jaguars could take a running back early in the draft. He better not be a runt, though. That’s for darned sure.

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