JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Marcus from Jacksonville:
The most accurate quote I've seen on the Jaguars' free agency dealings (from ESPN.com): "Wake me up when the Jaguars start spending big money on retaining their own draft choices, and not on someone else's discards."
John: I'll probably stay awake until that happens, or at least try to stay awake part of the time, but yeah – what Bill Barnwell wrote for ESPN this week had some merit. He was fairly harsh on the Jaguars' free agent class, and I disagreed with Barnwell to the extent that I think Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye and Barry Church are good moves for a team that needed to improve those positons in free agency. I particularly like the Campbell signing a lot because he appears to be a no-nonsense, productive veteran with some good football left, and I liked Church for the same reason. I like the Bouye signing because he reportedly has a chance to continue to ascend and really complement Jalen Ramsey at corner for a long time. Overall it's hard to believe those moves won't make a good defense better. As for Barnwell's bigger point, that it's better to pay big money to your own free agents than to sign other teams' free agents … yes. Absolutely. No question. No argument. Dead on. But the Jaguars aren't yet at the point where they can afford to forego free agency and focus on their own. They're still making up for some weak drafting, and that means they still must upgrade and solidify positions. Do they want to be doing that in a few years? No. But should they ignore their holes and wait for young players to develop? I don't think such an approach would fit very snugly into the idea of trying to win now.
Marc from Oceanway:
After our outstanding defensive haul in free agency, offensive line seems to be our biggest remaining need. How do you see us using pick No. 4 now? Seems a little high for the O-line prospects available in this year's draft.
John: Yes, it does.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hi John, I like the Calais Campbell signing – still effective and a good veteran presence. But I still think they should draft Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas as Campbell may only give us a couple of years.
John: I would have no problem if the Jaguars draft a defensive lineman with the No. 4 overall selection. It makes sense for the future and the present because for the present you can never have too many good defensive linemen. But a whole lot of things seem to point to them drafting a running back at No. 4, and a whole lot seems to point to that running back being from Louisiana State, and a whole lot indicates that player could be named Leonard. But if that's not the direction, then yeah … I could still see the Jaguars drafting a defensive lineman at No. 4 overall.
Yeah from Jags4life:
So the Jaguars should sign T.J. Lang, either Peterson or Murray, Dont'a Hightower, Mario Williams and Erik Walden. Use up most of the rest of the cap space. Agreed?
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Is Lerentee McCray a core-four guy, or will he be competing at linebacker? I feel like all three linebacker spots are locked in with Telvin Smith, Poz, and Myles Jack. I could foresee few linebackers that could come in and be better than Smith and Poz, and Jack was projected as a Top 5/Top 10 draft pick.
John: Lerentee McCray will be listed at defensive end, and Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said Friday the team believes McCray has some value as a pass rusher. But McCray will primarily be a special teams player. Special teams was one of the first things he mentioned on Friday when speaking publicly for the first time after joining the Jaguars, and he makes no secret that he understands his job depends on special teams. Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin said recently special teams would be a priority. McCray is proof.
Ric from Jacksonville:
Hello, John. So I don't want to sound like I'm beating a dead horse here, and I don't want it to seem like the defensive improvements from free agency are not exciting. But, it just feels like the biggest issue, the quarterback, isn't being addressed. I get that they feel like Blake is our best shot all things considered. But, BOY with this past season still stinging a little, it sure does make me nervous that nothing at all is being done with that position.
John: Quarterback indeed remains the No. 1 issue around the Jaguars right now. There has been nothing said publicly to indicate anything other than Blake Bortles as the likely starter next season. None of the offseason moves thus far indicate anything other than Bortles as the likely starter next season. Still, what we don't know is how Coughlin deep, deep, deep, deep down feels about Blake Bortles. He has said Bortles is the Jaguars' quarterback, and he has said Bortles must reduce interceptions and turnovers … but none of that gives any real indication for how he feels about the player. I don't expect Coughlin to make any public proclamation about Bortles beyond what he has said, because there would be nothing to gain from such a proclamation. Will the Jaguars further address quarterback via the draft or free agency? I don't expect it. Nothing indicates it will happen. Would I be shocked? No, I would not.
Jim from Middleburg, FL:
As opposed to amateur football players, do professional players sometimes play above and beyond as a result of team work, great coaching, even refusal to lose? I want to know if anything besides money motivates professional football players.
John: Professional players are motivated by the same thing that motivates players at all levels: pride, competitiveness, desire to win, etc. Once in the NFL, money is a motivation, but professional pride and commitment to teammates and coaches matters, too. I've found that generally speaking most professional football players are motivated every offseason, every training camp and every preseason. They remain motivated early in the season so long as their team is in contention. Once a team is out of contention, motivation becomes more of an issue for some players, though certainly not all.
Glenn from St. Mary's, GA:
John, I don't understand the concern about drafting a running back in the first round when it is said that their career is typically a short four years. If you don't re-sign them, you already have got the best four years of their career and you have lost nothing because typically first-round draft picks are signed to a first contract of four years.
John: When you take a player in the first round, you're typically hoping that player is a core player who is with your team for six-to-eight seasons – and it's difficult to project a running back being elite and starting for that long. It happens, but it's hardly a guarantee. But that's not the primary argument against taking a running back at No. 4. The primary argument is you can get relatively similar value at running back in later rounds. That argument can be trumped if a running back is elite-level special. That may be the case this spring with that guy named Leonard. We'll see.
Sebastian from Mexico:
Why release Joeckel? Wouldn't it have been a better idea to give him a one-year, "prove-it" deal? He played well before he was injured and he could've possibly won the starter position.
John: Joeckel wasn't released. He signed with the Seahawks as a free agent.
Eric from Duval:
O-Man, with the departure of Luke Joeckel, should we expect any sort of compensatory selection in the upcoming draft? He was selected No. 2 overall.
John: The compensatory selection process is a secret one, so it's not known exactly what factors play into it. But it's generally believed that value of contract and playing time are major factors. A player's draft position doesn't play into it. A thing to remember about the compensatory selections is a team is rewarded for players it loses in free agency and penalized for signing free agents. Joeckel signed a one-year deal worth a reported $8 million with the Seattle Seahawks, and safety Johnathan Cyprien signed a four-year, $25 million deal with Tennessee – so they would be factored positively into the Jaguars' compensatory equation. But the fact that the Jaguars signed Calais Campbell, Barry Church and A.J. Bouye for high-value contracts in the same free-agency period likely will counter the Jaguars losing Cyprien and Joeckel. Either way, this week's free-agent activity has nothing to do with 2017 compensatory selections. This week's activity will be used to determine 2018 selections.
Albert from Orange Park, FL:
Robert Griffin III could be interesting, right? He has been to the playoffs, which is something Chad Henne, Luke McCown, Gabby and Bortles have never even sniffed. Besides, he can't cost too much, and I bet we can get him on a one year ...
John: You serious, Clark?
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Marcus from Jacksonville: