O-Zone: Thank goodness

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Cape May Courthouse:
I don't get the rush among Jags fans to cut good players. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson and defensive end Calais Campbell both played at Pro Bowl/All Pro levels last season. If they continue to play at that level in 2018, why on Earth would we release them? I understand we have a few defensive studs in need of second contracts, but the Jags DO NOT have to re-sign defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, linebacker Myles Jack or cornerback Jalen Ramsey next offseason; all are still under team control for at least the next two seasons – and in Jalen's case, for the next three (fifth-year team option). Upper management has been incredible in structuring team-friendly deals, and I see no reason why they wouldn't continue that trend moving forward. My advice to fans: don't worry about player contracts. There are people much smarter than all of us on top of it.
John: Fans are going to worry about this (and fret … and maybe even complain). That's OK, because fans gonna fan. But while the fretting in this case is perhaps premature, it absolutely is merited. The Jaguars almost certainly will address at least one of the young players' contracts following the 2018 season; it's unwise to let all deserving players play out contracts at the least possible money – and there's something to be said for rewarding players when possible and deserved. And it's quite likely big-name, important players could be released following 2018. Still, you're correct that the Jaguars have options here. And if the team continues to draft well – and if the young players we're discussing continue developing – the team can remain strong through some defections. It won't be easy. But, it's not supposed to be easy. It's the NFL.
Dakota from Dupree, SC:
Zone, how ya been? It has been a while. Explain to me how Khan buying Wembley is good for the Jags. It's good for Khan. Good for the Jaguars....how?
John: Wow, Dakota, it has been a while. I know this because we've covered this subject a lot since the recent announcement that Khan is planning to purchase Wembley, but we'll go over it again. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan and President Mark Lamping have been clear for the last three or four years – maybe a little longer – about the importance of the London initiative to the Jaguars' local revenue. Local revenue is the key for NFL teams' bottom line, and the Jaguars include money generated from the Wembley game in their local revenue. The Wembley game accounts for 11 percent of the Jaguars' local revenue. Because Khan's purchase of Wembley Stadium will mean the Jaguars no longer have to pay rent for their home game – and because ownership will mean participating in other revenue streams such as concessions – that will mean the Jaguars making more money from the Wembley game, and therefore increasing their local revenue. The stronger the Jaguars' local-revenue situation, the stronger they are in Jacksonville. That is where many get lost in this discussion, and I suspect many will continue to get lost there. Still, that's the key point – and it's why the Jaguars' stability in Jacksonville is strengthened when they get stronger in Wembley. Also, the Jaguars increasingly have been aware that other NFL teams want to play in London; this was not as much the case in 2013 when the Jaguars began playing there. There also was concern that if the Football Association that currently owns Wembley sold to a person or group without interest in hosting NFL games it could take away the Jaguars' ability to play there. Bottom line: the Jaguars need to play in Wembley to make their revenue work to remain stable in Jacksonville. Khan owning Wembley stabilizes the Jaguars' situation there – and improves it in terms of revenue to be made. Therefore, it's much better – and more secure – for the Jaguars.
Andy from Roswell, GA:
Regarding kickoffs, why don't we steal something from the CFL – and if a kickoff is made through the goalpost, the team gets one point? I don't see a scenario where most if not all teams attempt to get the extra (extra) point, it raises scoring, makes the end of games that much more interesting and would eliminate the kick off without actually eliminating it. The traditionalist in me hates myself for writing this but it seems like a good compromise than just placing the ball at the 25 after the opposing team scores. Thoughts?
John: Meh.
Brandon from Asheville, NC:
I for one believe we can never have enough pass rushers. I am uncertain how realistic it will be to re-sign Dante Fowler Jr., especially with how big his market might be next year if he stays healthy and is productive, ala Olivier Vernon.
John: If Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. is very productive next season he will command a lot of money on the open market in 2019. If that happens, the Jaguars indeed would have another difficult choice to go with an increasing number of difficult choices. It's possible he could play well enough to force the Jaguars to decide to keep him. I think he would have to play better than he has in either of the last two seasons for that to happen.
Jeff from Orange Park, FL:
Fans see players and think they know what the team needs. Coaches see Xs and Os. The front office knows what it takes to build a lasting dynasty. What are your thoughts on how they are managing players with regards to the salary cap?
John: So far, so good. The Jaguars have contracts in place for veterans that allow them to get out of those contracts without catastrophic effects on the salary cap. That's good cap management, but they haven't yet had to make many difficult decisions. How they will handle it as expensive, high-profile, productive players reach critical decision points … that will tell the ultimate tale of this story.
Ridley from Daytona, FL:
O-Zone, why haven't the Jags cut to 53 yet and made all these decisions that everyone wants to know today, and why haven't they told the players which players won't be back in 2019-20 yet? We need to know!
John: I'll google this.
Bob from Jacksonville:
A few days ago on Big Cat Country I read where we signed Malik Zaire, the Florida quarterback. Why is he not on our rooster and why have you not mentioned it in your column?
John: The Jaguars have signed 13 undrafted free agent rookies, and we have released the names of those players on this site. I have heard reports that Zaire could be involved in the Jaguars' rookie minicamp next weekend on a tryout basis. When and if Zaire signs a contract with the Jaguars, we'll report it – as we do with all players officially on the roster. And I haven't the foggiest idea who's on your rooster. If you figure it out, by all means call the authorities. The law against that sort of thing remains on the books.
Rhonda from Jacksonville:
In our wisdom to not sign any additional running backs or tight ends, what happens if the injury bug hits those positions?
John: The backups will play. I'm almost sure of it.
Josiah from Fargo, ND:
Hey John, this offseason including the draft just felt … boring. Don't get me wrong. I like the moves, but it feels weird not being offseason champs. I like it. I hope the coming offseasons are even more boring after the Jags get their Super Bowl and spend the majority of their time just retaining their own players.
John: The best offseasons for good, consistent teams are usually boring. So, yeah – boring offseasons are cool. And fans do like them. They should, anyway.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
I'm no defensive coordinator, but it seems Dante Fowler Jr. has the tools to play strong-side linebacker on running downs. I know we've touched on the topic before, but can you explain why the team just doesn't see him filling that need? Is it all the certain that Blair Brown is more qualified for the role?
John: Strong-side linebacker and defensive end are different positions. Preparing for one position in the NFL and playing it at a high level is difficult. While fans often suggest moving players around in a scheme, it's usually preferable to have a player focus on being the best he can be at his position. Fowler is going to remain an end and he will not play strong-side linebacker.
Uncle Ian from Avon, IN:
John, I feel the need to apologize first and foremost. After the AFC Championship, things got rough, stuff was drank and I disappeared from the O-Zone as I needed time to heal. Now that my wounds have been licked, free agency and the draft are behind us and OTA Phase 2 is here, I'm finally back. I know you missed my daily readership, and it won't happen again. So, what's new?
John: Thank goodness you're back. Now, I'll finally stop getting all those emails slugged, "Where is Ian?"

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