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O-Zone: Seal of approval

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Zay it ain't so, Zone.

The Jaguars on Tuesday morning announced a series of roster moves. They included signing 13 undrafted collegiate free agents and releasing recently-signed kicker Joey Slye – but the most notable of the moves indeed was releasing veteran wide receiver Zay Jones. While the move surprised some observers, it wasn't a complete shock after the team selected wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. No. 23 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft this past Thursday. I thought the Jaguars might retain Jones because I thought he had value as an experienced, reliable route runner – and as a player in whom quarterback Trevor Lawrence had confidence. But the Jaguars were able to save about $5 million on the salary cap by releasing Jones – and Jones struggled to be on the field last season. Those last two factors outweighed the benefits of keeping him. Jones played "just" 25 games in two seasons, but he made some crucial plays during the late-season run to the 2023 AFC South title. I liked covering Jones and found him always helpful, respectful and insightful – and he seemed to appreciate playing in the NFL and being part of a resurgent organization. Here's wishing him the best moving forward.

Eric from Jacksonville Beach, FL

My favorite part of the draft was getting to hear the call with Jarrion Jones and the coaches. Hard not to love hearing the excitement from a player on draft day and someone who's clearly pumped to be here. I love it!

Jones, a cornerback from Florida State selected in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, was emotional when speaking with Jaguars Head Cach Doug Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke this past Friday. Here's the link if you haven't seen it. Enjoy.

Jon Jax Beach

When Wayne Ruby Jr. outperforms Brian Thomas Jr. this preseason, I wonder how you will spin how awesome this front office is.

I'm sure I'll figure something out. I'm pretty damned good at what I do.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

We only have two quarterbacks on the roster, don't we need a few more for camp?

The Jaguars have three quarterbacks on the roster – starter Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones and C.J. Beathard.

Steve from Nashville, TN

So, we are good with just two quarterbacks on the roster through minicamp and OTAs?

Steve, meet Sean. Sean, meet Steve.

Trey from Franklin, TN

Hi, John. With the release of Zay Jones, why would the team not make it a post June 1 designation and save more under the cap? It doesn't make sense not to do it that way... or do I owe Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke an apology?

Post-June 1 designations don't save teams money under the salary cap. They allow teams to split the cap hit between the current year and the following year. The total cap hit is the same.

Marcus from Jacksonville

The post-draft grades by national media really crack me up sometimes. Basically, the grade is completely dependent on how bad that particular media member's mock draft was. All they are doing is comparing where a team drafted a player with their own draft board, so if they had a guy going in the fourth round and he was drafted in the second, they give that team a bad grade. All it's really showing is how far off that person was in creating their draft board compared to actual NFL teams. Honestly, I almost prefer for the Jags to have a mediocre post-draft grade because if they have a good grade, it means they drafted in line with know-nothing talking heads.

Pretty much.

Matthew from Townsville, Tropical Australia

Hey, O. I think I may have worked out something driving anti-Baalke sentiment. Perhaps more than any other general manager, Baalke drafts according to athleticism, character and football intelligence, but not so much on production statistics. The media, however, is obsessed with production statistics and when they see a draftee without much production, they automatically give a lower grade. Jags fans see the lower grades in many places in the media and believe Baalke has done a bad job. It gets worse when the draftees don't contribute much in Year One because they're developing potential, with the appearance of insufficient production seeming to confirm the poor media draft grades. Then edge defensive Travon Walker – the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft starts to fulfil his potential, but the media and the media-swayed fans are moving on to the next apparent "disappointment," who may be developing quite nicely at the pace he needs to, but there is no patience or awareness of the way Baalke is doing this. And so it keeps going. Does this make sense to you?

It's my experience most general managers get criticized by that team's fans, particularly when they make moves fans don't understand or like. This is somewhat because of the reasons you cite. It's mostly because most fans have an idea of what they want to see in free agency or the draft. If a general manager doesn't make moves within that idea, he's going to get criticized. This phenomenon has increased dramatically since the rise of the internet and social media, where information and data is readily available on free agents and potential draft choices. This information and data logically gave rise to "rankings," which has led to many fans being more educated and more opinionated on roster moves. Are the fans right? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. Are their thoughts on general managers accurate or fair? Sometimes yes. Often no. Are they loud and confident? Almost always.

Dave from Los Angeles, CA

To all those judging how this year's draft will impact the team's fortunes, let's not forget the most important draft pick to consider is still the one that happened in 2021. If quarterback Trevor Lawrence elevates his game, all else will look great.


Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

Kicker Joey Slye and Zay Jones released. It appears the Jaguars are trying to create more cap room to sign Trevor to a long-term extension. Maybe there is room on the roster for wide receiver Jarvis Landry now if he shows he still has some tread left on the tires.

The Jaguars can sign Lawrence to a long-term extension and they could have signed him to a long-term extension before they released Jones. Remember: Whatever the terms of the long-term extension Lawrence signs, the extension almost certainly will lower his cap number early in the contract. Also: Releasing Slye wasn't about the cap as much as it was about having selected kicker Cam Little in Round 6 this past weekend. As for veteran wide receiver Jarvis Landy, he is participating in the team's upcoming rookie minicamp. Why? Because teams need more than three or so good receivers.

Darren from Fort Worth, TX

Does it matter? Nah. Kind of like it didn't matter if A.J. Brown or D.K. Metcalf was the No. 2. A good player is a good player, regardless of the other players.


Sean from Oakleaf, FL

A nearly 100 percent SEC draft with Texas in the Lobby and FSU waiting for a ticket to get in - is this by design?


Scott from Jacksonville

Yeah, Justin Jefferson was the best receiver in his draft class and probably should have gone in the top 5. Very unusually, he wasn't the best receiver on his own college team and was a bit overlooked. Hopefully we've scored on a similar 1-2 LSU receiver punch.

Jefferson was and is really good. So was and is his college teammate, Ja'Marr Chase. Was one that much better than the other? Not particularly. Can Jaguars wide receiver Thomas be "similar" to either player? Time will tell.

Nathan from Utah, US

Draft Zone, I remember when the Jaguars' general manager would draft players from "smaller" schools and people would complain. Now they're complaining that today's general manager drafted players mostly from schools in the SEC. Fans gonna fan, huh?

Fans are "awesome." Just ask one.

Keith from Jacksonville

John, what can you tell us about the group of UDFA's the team signed? Are there any players from that group that stick out and have a real chance of making the team?

The Jaguars have agreed to terms with 13 undrafted free agents. One, Ohio State safety Josh Proctor, attended the NFL Scouting Combine and the Senior Bowl. That indicates that he has the athleticism and measurements to make it in the NFL. All UDFAs are realistically long shots. I expect at least one to make the roster and at least a few others to be on the practice squad. I could predict specific names, but anyone predicting names is guessing. If UDFAs were supposed to make a roster, they would have been drafted. Figuring out which one or two will stand out is part of the "fun" of training camp.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Hey, this is Jerell and I approve of this draft … that's it.

Trent will be so relieved.