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O-Zone: Taxman cometh

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Wallace from Jacksonville:
Your comment that the Jaguars may not be willing to pay what it takes to sign Alex Mack has me a bit concerned. The franchise is far below the salary cap, yet this statement infers that the Jaguars are not willing to invest top-tier money in a proven player entering the prime of his career. Ever hear of the term "there's no such thing as a free lunch?" When you've drafted as poorly as the Jaguars have in the last decade there are only two options - pay up for some free-agent talent or continue to live in the cellar of the NFL rankings.
John: I'm sorry you're concerned. Being concerned can be … well, concerning. The Browns placed the transition tag on Mack on Monday, but that doesn't change the dynamic of my point on Mack – that the Jaguars are very unlikely to overspend in free agency. Now, that doesn't mean the team won't "spend;" it will. The Jaguars absolutely will invest in free agency, but you have to have parameters within which to operate. There's no such thing as a free lunch, but there's certainly such a thing as overspending on free agents and creating a salary structure within your team that's unsustainable. Also: While you listed two options, there's a third that the Jaguars are attempting to follow – that is, to draft well and build a sustainable roster that can contend.
Mike from Jagsonville:
OK, so now do you have any idea what I'm talking about?
John: Remember … a day without sunshine is like … night.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
At the safety position, obviously Cyp is a starter. When healthy, does Evans or Guy start in 2014, and does Sherrod Martin make the roster?
John: These questions are tougher to answer around the Jaguars than most teams, because the Jaguars honestly do operate based on competition. And the competition between Evans and Guy last season was close enough that they essentially shared the free safety position the second half of the season. And you know what? There's really nothing wrong with that; each had strengths and if you can have two young players pushing one another on a young team in a young secondary, that's a good thing. Martin is an interesting situation. He was a second-round selection by Carolina in 2009 and signed a reserve/futures contract with the Jaguars just after last season. There are some Will Blackmon overtones here and he'll be one to watch in the offseason.
John from Tamarac:
Why hasn't the NFLPA tried to make the franchise contracts longer than one year?
John: Because that's not the spirit of the rule. The idea behind the rule is to give teams the ability to protect one player for the short term with the idea that in most circumstances it's beneficial to both sides to get a long-term deal done. And teams do have the mechanism to make the franchise contracts longer than one year. Teams can franchise players more than once; it just becomes very expensive to do so.
Sean from Fleming Island, GA:
What are the experts saying about the quality of this year's crop of centers in the draft?
John: It's not particularly deep at center, which isn't unusual. The consensus is it will be difficult to find more than one or two centers in this draft who can start right away – and it may be tough to find that many.
Steve from North Haven, CT:
I was upset at the Monroe trade, especially watching him excel there for two late draft picks. Now though, he still is untagged and supposedly still way far apart on contract talks … the situation looks a lot different. It appears we got two draft picks for a guy we probably wouldn't have been willing to sign for as much money as he wants, and we would have lost him in free agency like the Ravens are about to. Do you think the front office saw that coming? Or did they just get lucky?
John: I think they had an idea that it would be difficult to re-sign Monroe for the money they planned to be willing to offer. Actually, I think that's a very fair assumption.
Marjorie from Jacksonville:
In regard to Clowney's suspected poor work effort, in Gus I trust. I think Gus can get just about any player to board the bus knowing once the wins come players become touched with swag and desire to become "the best." If we're concerned about production, make his contract incentive laden.
John: Yes, Bradley is a rare motivator, but I'll continue to say it's unwise to write Clowney off as a poor worker; his circumstance at South Carolina was unique and we don't know how he would have acted in a normal situation. The incentive-laden-contract approach isn't likely to work, though. A wise agent – and Bus Cook has been doing this a while – isn't going to agree to such a rookie contract, particularly not for a Top 5 selection. Incentive-laden contracts are usually the domain of veterans who need to prove they still belong in the NFL. Clowney's contract likely will be structured very normally within the rookie wage scale with one significant incentive: the chance for the much-coveted, future-securing "second contract."
Mark from Mechanicsville, MD:
Do you think Khalil Mack is a pure pass rusher? I mean, does he look fluid in the hips and bend to you or is it mainly his speed that gets him to the quarterback? I love Mack. I think he would be great here in Jacksonville! I can wish. Lol.
John: Yes, it appears Mack is a pure pass rusher. He has bend and oh, is he fluid. And while you may "laugh out loud" at your wish, I would say there's a chance it comes true. If a quarterback the Jaguars like isn't on the board at No. 3, it wouldn't be a shock if they took Mack.
Ed from Winston-Salem, NC:
What is your opinion of Chris Johnson? A lot of players switch teams within the division. If you were the general manager, would you consider signing him?
John: I think most general managers "consider" signing many, many players. In the case of Johnson and the Jaguars, I doubt it's a fit. I'd think the desire would be to get more of an all-around, durable back.
Drew from Toledo, OH:
Do you think Roy Miller will be replaced this year? Did he play well enough to be a starter? Why aren't there any defensive tackles being mentioned as a Top 5 selection?
John: I don't think Roy Miller will be replaced, but I think there's a very good chance the Jaguars add a defensive tackle. Remember, in Gus Bradley's defense you need six, seven or eight guys who can play a variety of positions, so it's best not to think of two starters at defensive tackle and two more at defensive end. In terms of Miller, specifically, remember: he played most of last season with a significant labrum injury and the Jaguars like him very much. There aren't any tackles being mentioned as Top 5 selections because the tackle class doesn't have any players that analysts and football people believe merit being selected there.
Jory from Kodiak:
I haven't heard much chatter about this yet. Do you think there's a chance we target Jairus Byrd in free agency or are we happy with our young secondary corps?
John: I would be stunned if the Jaguars pursued Byrd heavily. They not only like their safeties, but safety in general is not a position on which you want to overspend in free agency – particularly not so early in the building process.
Bob from the Price is Right:
I think people also have to understand that trading down is not as easy as just saying it should happen. Sure it could help us in this draft, but we need to be prepared to pull the trigger at No. 3.
John: Yes.
Michael from Reynoldsburg, OH:
Mr. O, what do you think about the NFL at some point going to an interconference playoff and Super Bowl? For example, seed all 12 playoff teams by record and let them go at it. The SuperBowl could end up with two NFC teams, two AFC teams, or a mix. This would be fun, exciting, and may ensure that the two best teams actually end up in the Super Bowl, and spare us from having to witness a 43-8 shellacking.
John: I don't see the NFL going to that formula any time soon – and probably not ever. The conferences matter quite a bit to people within the league, and there's some tradition and pride involved with winning the AFC and the NFC. Also, your formula really isn't a guarantee that you won't have a one-sided Super Bowl; a lot of things had to break right for Seattle for this year's game to get so one-sided. Besides, this year's game aside, the NFL is on a pretty good run of quality Super Bowls. I don't sense any urge to adjust the formula.
Ed from Hutchins, MA:
Picking receipts out of the trash at the hardware store at income tax time. #Shadricksightings
John: Yup.

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