O-Zone: Specifically speaking

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chuck from Goose Creek

How much cap space does the team have after signing Foles? Do you expect them to get anyone else in free agency? How much does the team need to sign its drafted players this year?

The Jaguars have about $12 million in salary-cap space for 2019 after signing quarterback Nick Foles, according to Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell. That figure accounts for about $9 million allocated for the pool to sign rookies. I do expect them to be active in free agency moving forward – at tight end and offensive line, particularly. I don’t expect the signings to be of the high-profile variety that gets fans excited. Bear in mind, though: If the Jaguars really, really want a player they can make room. That would require moving cap space around, meaning they would push 2019 cap ramifications back into 2020 or beyond. That’s how teams maneuver around cap issues in the short-term. Jaguars Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin and Caldwell on Thursday both mentioned this is as a possibility. To listen to Coughlin, however, the Jaguars’ free-agency activity the rest of the offseason will be more about bargains than big swings. At some point, you must calm the spending and focus on the draft.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

O-man, any names left in free agency that Jags fans should keep an eye on? With our limited cap space, how realistic is a veteran tight end and/or right tackle?

I believe the Jaguars will sign a veteran at both positions. I don’t believe those players will be names with which many fans are particularly familiar.

Michael from Jacksonville

Do you feel that had Foles been the quarterback last season we would've had a better record?

Yes. I doubt it would have made the difference between a winning and losing record, and I believe the biggest difference between 2017 and 2018 was injuries rather than the play of quarterback Blake Bortles. Still, Bortles struggled even more so than usual as the season continued. You would hope that wouldn’t have been the case with Foles. If it would have been the case, the Jaguars made a mistake by signing him.

Bill from Jacksonville

After going 1-31 over the last couple years, the Cleveland Browns are now more a relevant, interesting and a better football team than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Who said tanking doesn’t work? Thanks! Go Jags!

I’m glad you’re enjoying the Browns’ offseason. They’re having a newsworthy, exciting one. Perhaps that will translate into them being very good next season. Sometimes, it does. As often as not, it doesn’t. Stay tuned.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

I think people hating on the Foles signing need to remember all those times on big third downs and late in the game where Bortles missed a wide-open receiver. Foles is a lot more accurate. His completion percentage last year was above 70 percent, which was second in the NFL. Just imagine the defense playing well, keeping the score low or the game close late and we have a quarterback who can complete these intermediate throws to move the chains. Also, we have some good speed at receiver; I imagine there will be more big plays. If they get Foles decent protection, add a threat at tight end and get the run game going, suddenly the offense is much better and more consistent than it has been.

That’s certainly the hope.

Finn from Jacksonville

Do you think Foles calls Blake to ask for any insight about the organization, city, or teammates? I bet Blake would field that call like a true professional.

I would be surprised if Foles made that call. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bortles handled it professionally.

Jags83 from Jax

Hi John! After Cann’s new contract do you think it means he will be the starting right guard? Or after last season is the front office being extra cautious, paying good money to him even as a potential back up in case of injuries? I think it was a mistake not drafting a guard early during last year's draft and I think it would be an even bigger mistake not doing it this year. I understand his re-signing adds flexibility in terms of the draft but I surely hope the plan is to draft a new guy for the position and not just be satisfied with Cann starting again. As a bit of expensive depth, I like him. As a starter...would be a mistake. What do you think?

I think A.J. Cann will start at right guard for the Jaguars next season. I believe the Jaguars will draft a right tackle early in the draft, but I will be surprised if they draft a guard early.

Chris from Orlando, FL

I am OK with the Foles signing. He is better than Blake. I think we will need to tailor our plan more to the RPO, since this is where he thrives. But my question is: once again, nothing at wide receiver or tight end. Even when we draft, we will still not have a true No. 1 wide receiver. I know they are hard, but were there not better options out there we could have tried for?

I get this question a lot. I can only figure people aren’t reading the O-Zone. I have written often in recent weeks I believe the Jaguars will draft a tight end relatively early – and I have said since the end of last season the Jaguars were unlikely to sign a big-name wide receiver or draft one early. One reason is the quality available at receiver in free agency and the draft doesn’t merit it. Another reason is the team doesn’t see wide receiver as the weakness many observers believe. Remember: You weren’t going to sign a No. 1 tight end or wide receiver in free agency, and the Jaguars weren’t in the market to trade for Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham, Jr. Once they agreed to terms with Foles, they weren’t going to be bringing on major contracts. You can’t always spend your way to a talented roster. Sometimes, you must draft your way there.

Jeff from Keystone Heights, FL

Can we never ever discuss how our quarterback is not a natural thrower of a football and how his quarterback mechanics will always be an issue? Have we moved past that, too?

What?

Jess from Carbon, IL

Foles’ contract: $88 million seems rather high. If he doesn't have the success he had in Philadelphia because the Jaguars don't have an offensive line, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers that are as good as the Eagles had the last two years, can he be arrested for robbing the Jaguars?

No more so than every other free agent who has been overpaid and not lived up to expectations. It’s part of the risk of free agency. If you don’t like it, don’t partake.

Quintin from Baltimore, MD

I know we can look to add more players before the draft, especially on the right side of the offensive line. But after signing Foles do you feel like it's best stay out of the free agency frenzy for another week or two? This way FA players' contract become more reasonable and the team can reserve some cap to extend existing players.

Yes, and that’s largely what the Jaguars have done. That they have done so is more out of necessity than strategy, but it’s nevertheless what they have done.

Corey from Orange Park, FL

How many quarterbacks are released by two teams and go on to have success? Our offensive line last year was absolutely decimated. This is a win-now decision, but our injuries happened as they did last year, are we any better than 6-10? And a follow up, if you sign a quarterback to a four-year $88 million dollar contract, and he ISN'T your guy, how far back do you set your franchise? Hopefully Caldwell/Coughlin know something that the last two teams to make the Super Bowl for the NFC doesn't.

Caldwell and Coughlin knew they needed a quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles know they already have Carson Wentz to play the position.

Taylor from Columbia, SC

Which Jaguars starters would you consider to be below average?

If you mean the 22 players who project to be starters if all others are healthy? None, really. I have no idea who will start at tight end or right tackle yet – and I don’t know how Jarrod Wilson will fare at safety if he indeed starts – but beyond that the Jaguars’ starters are least average and usually a lot better than that.

Larry from 911 Restoration

You recently said: "The Jaguars officially overpaid when they chose to participate in free agency. So did every other team that participated in free agency. It’s unavoidable." I assume you mean this generally and not specifically. I would like to point out Keenan McCardell, Leon Searcy, Paul Posluszny, Sen'Derrick Marks, and Calais Campbell who were definitely worth what we paid them.

No, I meant specifically.

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