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O-Zone: Self-promotion

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Boomgrounder from Moundsville

Hey, John. Well, it appears that Baalke has delivered on fulfilling his vision for the Jaguars. He re-signed a few players and replaced a few more. I would give him a grade of C. My biggest issue with the Jaguars' general manager is he doesn't appear to prioritize the signing of the top players in the organization such as outside linebacker Josh Allen. When I have multiple jobs to do, I always tried to get the most important and likely the most difficult one done first. Baalke doesn't seem to share that strategy. That's my assessment of his general strategy.

A lot of thoughts and "analysis" regarding Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke in this and recent O-Zones – which stands to reason considering we're fresh off the main thrust of the NFL's 2024 free-agency period. Many observers have criticized Baalke's approach in recent weeks – but while anyone can have any opinion they like, I'm always amused when observers criticize not signing this or that player and assuming they know what a general manager's priorities without knowing the specifics involved. In the case of Allen, I understand fans wanting him signed to a long-term contract. I have written often in the last season or two that I think it would be a good move. But I also don't know specifically what it will take to sign him to such a contract – and you can't categorically call signing or not signing a player a mistake without knowing demands on each side. Perhaps Baalke's priority is to sign Allen and other homegrown players. He has stated as such and there's no reason to think it's not the case, but he also must do so wisely. You can't make such maneuvers in a vacuum – or at the expense of the overall good of the team.

Pookie from Panda City

Isn't finding good, or at least serviceable, receivers in the draft supposed to be relatively easy? Why is it such an enigma to our general manager? Our entire receiving core during his tenure has been high-priced free agents. If the website I'm looking at is accurate, in 2024 the Jaguars have $50 million of their salary cap tied up by the top four wide receivers (Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Gabe Davis and Devin Duvernay) and tight Evan Engram. Together, that's roughly 20 percent of the Jags' salary cap tied up in free-agent receivers. I didn't go to the University of the NFL, but my peasant observer brain tells me this is bad management and not the right way to build sustained success. But hey, OnE fEr BaAlKe!!!

The Jaguars do have a lot of dollars – both salary cap and real cash – invested in wide receivers and tight ends, and it's also a lot of second-contract dollars. Ideally that would be more of a mix, with perhaps two second-contract players and two first-contract players. That's how a mature, balanced salary-cap would look. Remember, though: Baalke in 2021 took over a roster that had finished with the NFL's worst record in back-to-back seasons. To build from that, you usually must acquire more older free agents at the beginning of the process because it's very hard to build quickly just using the draft. It would be better to have a young, less-expensive receiver or two in the mix. Considering the state of the roster when Baalke took over, the current mix is understandable.

Biff from Jacksonville

When you sit down to answer emails for the O-Zone Mailbag, do you have "Give Up the Funk" playing to inspire you?


Shawn from Moore County, NC

The way I see it, we have three open starting positions: Cornerback, defensive tackle and X receiver. With us reportedly going to run a lot of 4-2-5, I can see us going some form of defensive tackle, cornerback and wide receiver in the first three rounds. Do you see it similarly?

Sort of, but not exactly. With Arik Armstead, DaVon Hamilton and Roy Robertson-Harris on the roster, I don't know that there's an "open starting position" on the Jaguars at defensive tackle. And while the Jaguars could add a receiver, I don't see them having to draft a starter. I absolutely see corner as the biggest need. As for the Jaguars' likely direction in the first three rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft, I would lean offensive line, corner and perhaps receiver – though I could also see defensive tackle in there.

Jonathan from Dayton

Regarding the draft, cornerback or offensive tackle in Round 1 makes sense and I'll sleep well with either selection. But what have the last two dynasty-type teams had in the NFL? A Hall of Fame-type tight end, Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski. I love Jaguars tight end Evan Engram, but do whatever you have to do to get Georgia tight end Brock Bowers. Go Jags.


Bob from Sumter, SC

I'm old. The only Bullet Bob I'm aware of is Bob Hayes.

I'm old, too. Bullet Bob is a Hazy IPA sold by Strings in Springfield and named in honor of the greatest athlete in the history of Jacksonville, Bob Hayes.

Fred from Highland Park, NJ

What the heck are Bullet Bobs?


Sean from Oakleaf, FL

Will you be attending the draft in Detroit, Mich., or will you have to sequester somewhere in a bunker to be next in line in case of a calamity in the war room?

I never have covered an NFL Draft in the city where the draft is held. It's more efficient as a member of the media to cover the draft at the team's facility where you have access to the general manager and head coach.

Funk from Murray Hill

When a new coach/coordinator is hired, does the new staff meet with our scouts to share insights on what they are looking for in a player to fit their scheme? Do they bring their own scouts?

Yes, scouts/personnel officials meet with coordinators and head coaches to ensure teams select/sign players who are the best scheme fits possible.

P Funk from Murray Hill

You are the Jags GM for the draft this year. At No. 17 overall are you taking a player who you think puts you in the best position to win this year, or a building block for the future?

I'm taking the player I think makes the team best over a long period.

Charles from Hello

John, Jaguars defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen's squad recorded 40+ tackles last year in Atlanta, along with some tacking machines. Which obviously holds true to your comment of him running an "aggressive" defense. In general, what can we expect in that regard? More blitzing? 4/3? Seems like the free agency on the defensive side side was customized for this "aggressive" mode. End rusher, two veteran cover guys for that one on one that might be more required due to more guys in the box, etc? Your thoughts?

My understanding of Nielsen's defense is he likes to rush with four up front with minimal blitzing with a lot of aggressive "press coverage" and safety help "over the top." There is much more to it, of course. This is the basic approach.

John from Jacksonville

Hi, KOAGF.  Every offseason, I'm reminded of how much the business part of the game disgusts me. The players have the owners by the bolts. The owners have the fans by the bolts. I guess there's always hope with the Culligan girl.

It's the NFL. It's not always pretty.

Shawn from Moore County, NC

We didn't re-sign Allen during the season cause Trent Baalke doesn't do that. We didn't re-sign him before free agency cause both sides wanted to see what the edge market looked like. Edge defender Brian Burns' five-year deal with the New York Giants was done quickly. Trent Baalke now knows what the market looks like. What is the hold up on getting a new deal done now? The contract can't be that tricky because the Giants gave Trent Baalke the template. I'm starting to feel like Trent Baalke is going to botch this and we will only have Allen for one more year.

I don't know that there's currently a "holdup" regarding a long-term contract for Allen as much as there's not a particular rush. The Jaguars have until July 15 to re-sign Allen to a long-term extension. If it doesn't happen then, he will play the 2024 season on a one-year contract under the franchise tag – unless, that is, he opts to not play. Aside from July 15, there's no rush. Also: Long-term contracts can be tricky for various seasons, mostly because of how they must be structured to work under a team's salary cap. It's rarely a matter of simply following a template of another contract.

Trey from Franklin, TN

Hey Zone! One of your answers got me thinking … what qualities as a promotion for "The Ozone?" How do you go up a layer from that? (See what I did there?)

What's a "promotion?"