O-Zone: The right fit

MOBILE, Ala. – Let's get to it …

Brian from Round Rock, TX

I think Yan's case to be a top-paid defensive end is weak. He didn't make the Pro Bowl, he's not the best at his position even on his own team and he's a liability against the run. What do you think?

This is a tricky question; if it weren't, Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue would have agreed to a contract extension last offseason and this wouldn't be an issue as this offseason begins. As it stands, Ngakoue is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18 – the first day of the 2020 NFL League year. Regarding your email's points, there's no question they're legitimate. Ngakoue has made one Pro Bowl in four NFL seasons, and his sacks have declined each of the past two seasons. He realistically isn't the best overall player at his own position on the Jaguars. And he does struggle against the run at times. Those are the reasons to not pay Ngakoue market-setting money. At the same time, he is a very, very good pass rusher, and his statistics have been hurt the past two seasons because the Jaguars' offensive struggles have caused the team to be trailing most of the time; I have little doubt Ngakoue easily would have had double-digit sacks the past two seasons had the Jaguars' offense been even average and therefore provided Ngakoue more pass-rushing opportunities. So, there are arguments for and against paying him what he apparently wants to be paid. Where does that leave Ngakoue this offseason? I believe the Jaguars will re-sign him, and I believe they likely will come very close to setting market value at the positions. There are a couple of reasons. One is they don't have enough elite players on the roster, and they don't want to let a player capable of producing turnovers and sacks leave. Another is that the Jaguars will want to negotiate with Ngakoue before he hits the market, so they'll probably overpay to keep him from becoming a free agent. Is it a risk to spend so much? Sure, but that's sort of what free agency is all about, isn't it?

Zac from Austin, TX

Not to be melodramatic (which, this probably is). But Yannick removing all of his photos in Jaguars uniforms and tweeting things like "Free" and "New Chapter" … that's it, huh?

You're referencing Ngakoue removing references to the Jaguars from his social media accounts, which is in keeping with his recent Tweets that seem to be cryptically saying he wants to move on from Jacksonville. I have no doubt that Ngakoue feels this way now. I do have a doubt that the Jaguars are simply going to allow him to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18. The franchise tag is a very real thing, and the Jaguars' desire to re-sign him also is real.

Ethan from Wampum, PA

I understand how the franchise tag works for the most part, but I've been reading a lot of fans that seem to think tagging a player is all it there is to it. Doesn't the player being tagged have to agree to or sign the offer? In that case, then what? The player either has to play for the team that tagged him or not at all, right?

A player can choose not to sign the franchise tag and therefore not play for any team that season, though by doing so he doesn't get paid for that season. The team can then apply the tag again the next season.

George from Jacksonville

Well, if all it takes is drafting players who will be 10-year Pro Bowlers, then shouldn't we just do that?

Googling this …

John from Jacksonville

The whole disadvantaged market discussion has some merit, but it isn't as bad as what it is made out to be. Revenue sharing aside, there's a reason New England generates a substantial amount of revenue, and it isn't all attributed to their market size. Not to mention the Jags make more in net income than plenty of teams who have bigger markets. Win some games and get some shade and see what happens to your revenue.

It's difficult to compare a mammoth market such as Boston with Jacksonville, which is one of the NFL's smallest. It's also difficult to compare anything to New England, because you can't plan your franchise's long-term economic strategy assuming your team will have two decades of consecutive double-digit-victory seasons; those sorts of runs of success are an outlier, even for successful franchises. The reality is the Jaguars had their best season-ticket year ever in 2018 and the revenue generated that year would still leave the franchise lagging behind in terms of local revenue. That doesn't mean the local-revenue equation wouldn't be helped by winning consistently, but it does mean the team needs to continue searching for non-traditional revenue streams to be competitive.

Chris from Space City, TX

"And with the fourth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select … franchise quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He is going to go on to be an MVP and lead his team to Super Bowl(s)." That's what should've been said on that draft night, but we all know this dumpster fire of a franchise doesn't really value the franchise quarterback. We stuck with below average Blake Bungles and reached at running back with the fourth overall pick. Now we get to watch Mahomes and Deshaun Watson become All-Pro while we still search for answers with the most important position in all of sports. O, you have defended General Manager David Caldwell and former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin's stupidity for years now. Can you finally admit how dumb of a move that was to take running back Leonard Fournette and not a quarterback now that we are about to watch Mahomes in the big game?

I've pretty much discussed this ad nauseam for the past two seasons, and I'll say what I've said often: Of course in retrospect the Jaguars should have taken Mahomes. There were plenty of reasons to take Fournette at the time, and it worked out in the short-term to the tune of an appearance in the AFC Championship Game. The worry at the time was obviously that taking a running back (short-term) over a quarterback (long-term) would prove to be a long-term mistake, and that indeed turned out to be the case. As far as "defending" Caldwell and Coughlin … yes, I have written often why they made the move. That's the job. If you interpret that as defending, and if you want to continue to get worked up over how I answer questions, have at it.

Sam from Winter Park, FL

Mr. NFL seems to have a "Crazy Joe" Davola hate/obsession with you, Seinfeld. I mean, O-Man.

Don't leave Chris from Space City out. Mr. NFL and Chris both get it. I suck. Always.

Jim from Jacksonville

What percentage of the first two rounds' selections is considered a "good" percentage in terms of hitting on long-term starters? I was concerned that Caldwell was going to be happy if only half of the upcoming next two years' selections in the first two rounds become starters. That seems like low expectations and maybe why the Jags have picked so poorly.

Any selection in the first two rounds who doesn't become a long-term starter – or at least an impact situational player such as a pass rusher or nickel corner – is considered a disappointment. Caldwell will not be happy if three of the Jaguars' six selections in Rounds 1 and 2 over the next two seasons fail to become long-term starters.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

Wait a moment Oman, so St. Louis is our example of how Lamping is successful. OKAY, and where is their NFL franchise now? Right, gone. How is this a good example to use? Seriously? Wow. And BTW I have lived in St. Louis. Downtown is not a tourist attraction. It is, however, more widely used because there are a LOT more people living there and working in downtown than in Jacksonville. Sorry. This doesn't really provide any great evidence that Lamping's ideas are going to work for Jacksonville. Different city, different circumstances. And again, his efforts didn't help them keep their NFL team.

Lamping was the president of the St. Louis Cardinals' baseball team. He was not affiliated with the St. Louis Rams football team. And frankly, I'm not going to invest a lot of mental energy into arguing why a project such as Lot J would be good for Jacksonville – or why it's a good thing for the Jaguars to have a vision for developing and reviving downtown. If people don't like that, or think that's some sort of evil, then we're speaking a language different enough that we'll never understand each other.

Red from O-Zone Comments Section

Meathead, huh? Well, if the shoe fits ...

Fair.

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