O-Zone: Shifting sands

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

Regarding Telvin Smith, how do the roster logistics work? So, he has not communicated with the team officially or directly. Is there a timeframe during which he must report? When does the team have to decide on his 2019 roster status? Given the current situation, what status or roster designation would he be placed in if the current status stays the same? Would they place him on an "inactive" status for the year? Could they keep him in a limbo status, so if he decided to come back before Week 8 (similar to the Le'Veon Bell situation last season) he could possibly return? Think they will give him a chance to come back if he continues on this “no communication” path?

The multiple unknowns involved in Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith’s recent announcement that he plans not to play in 2019 make this impossible to answer with clarity. That means there likely will be a meandering feel to this answer. While NFL rules address situations for players who retire – or players who fail to report because of contract issues – there really isn’t a precedent or specific rule for a player who just opts to “take a year off.” What also makes the situation tricky is that Smith hasn’t officially communicated his desires to the NFL or to the Jaguars. That means there isn’t really a move for the Jaguars to make right now – because as of right now Smith officially is no different than cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who also is opting to not participate in the voluntary portion of the offseason. The first mandatory activity is the mid-June minicamp. If Smith opts to not report to that, he could be fined by the team – but even then, he wouldn’t have done enough for the Jaguars to automatically place him on the Reserved/Did Not Report list. That list would come into play beginning in training camp. That’s why Smith’s estimated $10 million in salary cap room does the Jaguars no good at this point; they can’t spend it somewhere else because they would need it to pay Smith if he decides to play in 2019 – which officially remains an option. I doubt the Jaguars would keep Smith in limbo status into training camp or the regular season. My guess is they would place him on the Did Not Report list if/when he doesn’t report to training camp and that they would move forward assuming he wouldn’t rejoin the team this season – if ever.

Richard from Starke, FL

Sad can be funny.

Or it can just be sad.

Bryan from PDX

Yo, Funk! I’m in town for a couple of weeks (sweating) and want to see my beloved Jags in person. Will the mandatory minicamp be open to the public? Also, I’ll be escaping the heat in cool comfort at the mall; I’ll look for you at the world’s best pizza establishment. #sbarro #yummy

Minicamp is not expected to be open to the public. As for Sbarro’s … see you there. I’ll be at the cozy table in the middle of the air-conditioned mall.

Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436 Since 1995

After four OTAs, how does the guy with the baddest mustache in the NFL look? Obviously, we want starting quarterback Nick Foles to be healthy and succeed, but should he go down, is Gardner Minshew looking OK?

Minshew so far has looked like what he is – a sixth-round rookie quarterback with very good field vision and decision-making ability, and a below-average NFL arm. That was the word on him coming out of Washington State, and it looks like that assessment was accurate – so it’s unrealistic to think he would look different than that after a week of organized team activities.

Frank from St. Augustine, FL

I can’t believe the Jags drafted Gardner Minshew. Jacksonville isn’t big enough to host the Super Bowl or the NFL Draft. What makes them feel they can support two mustaches?

Fair.

Sean from Jacksonville

Two things, my good man. One, working out Terrelle Pryor. Really? At his age and subpar last couple of seasons? Weird. And, two, what's up with signing Quincy Williams? What could possibly be the holdup?

Two answers. Regarding Pryor, a workout is a workout; teams conduct them with street free agents all the time – and often with no resulting signings. Regarding Williams … it’s May 29. Training camp starts in late July. He’s in Jacksonville. He’s practicing. There’s no “hold up.” There’s no urgency. There’s no delay. If we get into late June or early July, it’s a story. Until then, it’s just that his agent and the team happen to not have bothered to get it done because there’s no immediate need to do so.

Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL

I wonder if all these folk slamming Ramsey for not attending >>>VOLUNTARY<<< OTAs have participated in every >>>VOLUNTARY<<< activity held by their own employers. How dare he skip >>>VOLUNTARY<<< AKA >>>OPTIONAL<<< OTAs?! The nerve! To the guillotine with him, off with his head! The peasants demand justice!

I don’t see your point. We have Employee Appreciation Day coming up here at the Jaguars. Words cannot express the excitement.

Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436

Now that we're rapidly approaching all CBA all the time as I thought a few weeks back, what chances at this point do you peg a repeat of 1987? In a related question, given that Jacksonville did not have a team in 1987, how do you think said stoppage would affect our city?

The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association will expire in 2021, meaning a new CBA must be negotiated before the 2021 season. And while there always is a threat of a work stoppage until a CBA is agreed upon, early reports are that the sides are relatively optimistic that one can be avoided with far less drama than was the case in 2011. That was the year an extended offseason stoppage eliminated voluntary offseason programs and mandatory minicamps. If things go awry, I think an offseason stoppage is more likely than a repeat of 1987, when a players’ strike led to regular-season replacement games. I say this because an offseason work stoppage would create awareness – and because the optimist in me believes that the deadline of approaching training camp and regular season would force an agreement. That’s a very broad assessment of a situation that will include far more subtleties and details than can be mentioned in a few sentences or paragraphs. As for how a repeat of ’87 would affect the city, it’s tough to tell – although August and September obviously would have a different feel without NFL games at the ‘Bank.

Ryan from Apopka, FL

It was recently reported that the NFLPA sent an email to the players’ agents league-wide to have them prepare for a lockout of the 2021 NFL season. From the ownership perspective, how much would they really – if any – want to give in? A player’s career on average is only a handful of years and those players typically try to maximize their value in that short time frame. Wouldn’t sitting out a year hurt that? If the owners realize they are not close to a deal come close to the season could we see replacement players? The 32 owners who are all billionaires I would imagine have other business interests and could handle their NFL teams not generating revenue. How long can players in the middle of the pack truly hold out? What are your thoughts on this as we are now about two years away from this?

As with the previous question, we’re far enough away from a deadline on this issue that it’s still best to answer in general terms. One of the key issues of NFL labor negotiations always is the one you cite; most players’ careers are so short that missing even a few games – much less an entire season – means missing a considerable portion of their professional football earning potential. I would be surprised if we see a return of replacement players, though I wouldn’t be surprised if owners threatened it at some point. Owners obviously are better positioned than players financially to withstand a stoppage, but most NFL teams focus on yearly revenue and sustain themselves separate from owner’s private funds – and that means a work stoppage is bad for business. How long can middle-of-the-pack players hold out? Historically not long. When checks stop, players tend to want to come back to work. Those with wives and children often tend to want to return quicker than those without.

KC Emerald Triangle, CA

Mr. O, with Foles missing some practice time, I'd assume this has created more reps for our non-starting quarterbacks, and I'm curious to know if anyone has seized the opportunity to take the lead in the all-important Battle for Backup QB.

Foles missed practice Tuesday. The Jaguars practiced for about an hour and thirty-five minutes. The backup quarterback terrain to my knowledge did not shift dramatically during that time.

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