O-Zone: Scar tissue

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Color me stupid on this one, but the who hell is Joe Schobert and does he deserve the contract that he just got?

Schobert is a middle linebacker who started the last three seasons for the Cleveland Browns, and – as reported by pretty much every media outlet Tuesday, including nfl.com – he reportedly has agreed to sign as an unrestricted free agent with the Jaguars. He was considered one of the better middle linebackers available in free agency – and as such, he made perfect sense for the Jaguars;  the move will allow them to start Schobert at middle and move Myles Jack from the middle to weak-side linebacker. Does Schobert deserve the contract he received – which according to NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport is worth $53.75 million over five years with $22 million guaranteed? I have no idea what "deserves" means when it comes to NFL contracts. Teams overpay in free agency and a team such as the Jaguars – who are coming off a losing season with a perception they're rebuilding – are always going to overpay a little more. Signing Schobert in many ways makes perfect sense. He's considered a very good run defender and above average in coverage. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and could allow the Jaguars to improve at two positions – middle and weak-side backer. All of that may not make him "worth" it, but it's by no means a bad signing.

Steve from Palm Coast, FL

Big "O," the Schobert signing was more than I expected we would be able to sign during this free-agent period. From what I've seen, he is very good at reading and reacting against the run, as well as solid in pass coverage. The Dennard signing I am not so sure of. He does address a very strong need at cornerback, but his injury issues the past couple of seasons concern me. I do believe the signing will help us draft the best available defensive tackle/offensive tackle – or both – in the first round. What are your thoughts or grades on these two signings?

In addition to Schobert, the Jaguars reportedly agreed to sign Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard. This is a lower-profile acquisition than Schobert, and Dennard is expected to compete at outside corner. This move stays true to what the Jaguars typically do under General Manager David Caldwell – which is to acquire players in free agency so they won't have to reach for players in the draft. Dennard, a former first-round selection by the Bengals, played mostly nickel corner with Cincinnati. If he were being acquired to automatically become the starter, it might be a curious acquisition. Because he's being acquired to contribute and compete, it makes sense.

Jinsure from DBS

With all the O-line and tight end signings, were the Jags not interested, outbid or just caught looking?

Caught looking implies the Jaguars weren't prepared entering free agency, or they were slow to react. They have shown in past offseasons they are perfectly capable and willing to move quickly in free agency – if the circumstances allow it. The Jaguars' salary-cap wasn't going to allow them to be mega-active in the first couple of days of the 2020 tampering period. Their "splash" acquisition was Schobert. As far as offensive line, I have said for several weeks I didn't expect much activity – if any – in free agency in that area. It wasn't a priority. Tight end? Stay tuned. Free agency isn't over yet.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

What is the point of the second-round tag? No team in their right mind would pay him $3 million AND give up a second-round pick for him. It just seems like non-news because I would bet your salary that never happens.

You're referencing the Jaguars placing a second-round tender offer on wide receiver Keelan Cole Tuesday, and you may be missing the point a bit. Cole, who will enter his fourth NFL season next season, is a restricted free agent. Had the Jaguars not extended him a tender offer, he would have been free to sign with another team. Had the Jaguars extended him a lower tender, a team could have signed him for less and with less compensation to the Jaguars. As it stands, a team would have to give the Jaguars a second-round selection to sign Cole. That's unlikely, so he's likely to play for the Jaguars next season – as the Jaguars hoped when they extended the tender.

Jaginator from (formerly of Section 124)

One of Caldwell's first "actions" as Jaguars' GM was a non-action – deciding to let Daryl Smith walk in free agency. From everything we heard, Caldwell made little-to-no attempt to retain Smith – and Smith went on to have three excellent years in Baltimore. Although the Calais situation isn't identical (we received something in return), this still feels like a similar mistake.

This is a fair concern. If the Jaguars erred early in Caldwell/Head Coach Gus Bradley era – other than with quarterback Blake Bortles – it was cutting the roster "too close to the bone" by not retaining veterans such as linebacker Daryl Smith and cornerback Rashean Mathis. The Jaguars aren't skewing nearly as young and inexperienced this offseason, but yes … yours is a fair concern.

James from Phoenix, AZ

So much for that whole win now and expect to be competing mandate from Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, huh? Guess Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone are safe for the next few years since they are being allowed to rebuild and tear everything down.

I wouldn't assume this.

Paul from Gainesville, FL

Have you heard the Chinese proverb: One foot cannot stand in two boats? Seems apropos for the Jaguars right now. If the reports are correct that teams are offering to trade for quarterback Nick Foles … why would the Jaguars not do that?

Who's to say they won't? But here's why you wouldn't (in theory): What the Jaguars saw from quarterback Gardner Minshew II as a rookie last season was enough to give you hope he will be good, but it wasn't enough to make you sure he will be good. It may or may not be accurate to call Foles a "contingency plan" should Minshew fail. But if that's what Foles is, he's not a bad one.

Brian from Jacksonville

Why does it seem easier for some people to identify football talent, such as New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and former Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, while others struggle to identify good players? I can usually pick out the players who are overrated, because they stick out like a sore thumb. For example, you pull up some of their so called "highlights" and there's not so much to write about.

Shad Khan … hire this man! (Just make sure he has interweb access).

Kevin from the Whole USA

Hey, O: This new Collective Bargaining Agreement had me thinking. If the salary cap rose by $10 million this season to $198, but is expected to balloon heavily starting next offseason, what are the chances players like Yannick change their mind and actually feel good about playing on a one-year deal/franchise tag? His potential for a mega deal will be much larger next offseason than this one!

I don't expect Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to "feel good" about playing on a one-year deal. I do expect doing so could eventually work in his favor.

Andy from Jacksonville

Why has jaguars.com not even mentioned Calais Campbell being traded to the Baltimore Ravens? We all know it happened from other media sources. Where is Jaguars.com? You guys are supposed to be our go-to source for news.

This is well-covered territory for longtime Jaguars and O-Zone readers, but it bears repeating – particularly with the 2020 NFL League Year opening Wednesday. NFL policy – one that extends to websites and social channels – is to not officially report transactions until they are finalized by the NFL. That creates situations where we can't write news stories or tweet about roster moves that other sites are reporting until contracts are signed. During much of the year, it causes us to lag behind a few minutes or hours at times. During the few weeks leading to the start of the league year, it causes us to not report on certain trades or signings for days at a time. It's a tricky rule that seems silly to some because – as your email points out – these agreed-upon transactions are widely known. Tricky or not, that's the policy. One other note: Because of league rules regarding COVID-19, many team physicals for players involved with trades or signing as free agents could be delayed. That is expected to delay many contracts becoming official, including some contracts involving the Jaguars. So, there likely will be events in the coming days reported in the media that we can't officially report on jaguars. While this again will be frustrating, that's the rule. On a positive note, we can discuss these reported moves in forums such as the O-Zone and on our broadcasts – so it's incorrect to say we haven't "mentioned" Campbell's situation. We've actually discussed it quite a bit here. I have the emotional scarring to prove it.

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