O-Zone: This is the business we've chosen

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Seamus from Vancouver, British Columbia

First, I'm quite sure that around organized team activities in the spring, you asserted that Ngakoue had better stats than the other guys in the league who got their payday; because I'm moving, I don't have time to do the research to confirm it. Second, after reading details about the offered contract, I get the sense the issue isn't money, but contract longevity; the Jaguars offered three years, which is really two years, while Yann wants a longer-term contract. What keeps the team from rewriting the contract for a longer term? This whole matter doesn't smell right, and it's crazy that you keep tamping our frustration down.

I don’t know that I asserted anything in particular, though Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue’s statistics and the statistics of other NFL defensive ends – including those who recently have received big paydays – indeed are readily available to anyone who wants to look them up. The issue to remember here is that while Ngakoue’s statistics are as good or better than other pass rushers getting long-term deals, he currently is wanting the long-term contract a year before his rookie contract runs out; that changes the dynamics of the negotiations for most teams, including in this case the Jaguars. As for Ngakoue’s negotiations with the Jaguars, pretty much everything that anyone is saying is speculation because I’ve yet to see any credible report that details the length and terms of a Jaguars offer – or what Ngakoue’s demanding. I will say that my strong sense is that Ngakoue will report relatively soon – very soon – and play for his current (rookie) contract this season. That’s because the Jaguars have made what they absolutely believe is a fair – and therefore final – offer, and because Ngakoue and his representatives don’t seem to agree with the Jaguars about what is fair in this instance. Finally, I’m not sure what you mean by “tamping our frustration down.” I have no illusions that I can control frustration of fans. What I try to do is answer questions and from time to time explain things as factually and clearly as possible. Either way, I’m confident Ngakoue will play well in the likely event he plays for the Jaguars this season. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.

John from Lost in the O-Zone

It has been said that Jags Brass does not like to negotiate with players who are not in camp. Assuming, that is accurate, do you think once Yan reports there is a better chance of this deal getting done this year to emphasize that point? Also, is there a certain league date when the deal has to be done by for the season?

No NFL front office to my knowledge likes to negotiate with players not in camp, but no: I don’t think Ngakoue reporting will increase the chance of a deal getting done because I get no sense that the Jaguars plan to increase their offer significantly – if at all.

Chris from Nashville, TN

So long, Josh ... see you next year! Oh well, I suppose we should tolerate losing all of our draft picks to injury this offseason..

What!? You’re referencing Josh Oliver sustaining a hamstring injury Thursday. Head Coach Doug Marrone said Friday it was a significant injury, but at no point did he discuss Oliver being out for the season. And yes … Oliver’s injury came on the same day it was learned that his fellow 2019 third-round selection – linebacker Quincy Williams – will miss the preseason with a knee injury. The injuries were difficult news for the Jaguars, but I wonder about your comment that “we should tolerate losing all of our draft picks this offseason.” What in the world are you talking about? It’s the NFL. Players get injured. Should you tolerate it? What’s your alternative? Rioting? Boycotting? Sitting in the corner sucking your thumb and pouting? Tolerate if you want. Pout if you want. But do this knowing that there’s typically nothing to be done about injuries. They’re simply part of the game.

Dave from Dallas

Hey, Mr. O: In 2018 we were third most in number of penalties conceded (121) and second most in yards lost (1,112). What is being done to get these numbers down?

Greater emphasis. There’s not much else to do.

Brad from Orange Park, FL

If Williams isn't quite ready to go by the regular season, the only names I can think of when trying to come up with who the likely starters are going to be at linebacker are Blair Brown and Leon Jacobs. Myles Jack, being in the middle. That's all I got.

You might consider Najee Goode. He worked with the starters at weak-side linebacker Friday. And Brown’s chances of starting are minimal. He’s no longer with the Jaguars.

James from Upper Marlboro, MD

John, I don’t understand why Nick Foles wasn’t in the Top 100 … wait, then again, it’s voted on by the players, so I guess the players don’t think he’s Top 100 material ...

It seems you’re subtly trying to make a point, and perhaps I’m just too tired to decipher it.

Tom from Charleston, SC

After a week of pampered training camp and already mounting injuries, it doesn't appear that pampering is not achieving the desired results. Do you see this new strategy as a success?

No strategy is going to completely eliminate injuries, and it’s really extreme to call this a “pampered” training camp. The Jaguars are practicing hard. They have had one fewer padded practice than at this point in the past two training camps. The major difference is more downtime outside of practice to allow better recovery. Is it a success? Who knows? Such initiatives are best judged over the long term, not after eight days.

Chris from Space City, TX

By now, it is general if not unanimous consensus, that Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager Caldwell made a huge mistake in giving then-quarterback Blake Bortles a premature and unwarranted contract extension. We have harped on how idiotic that decision was enough. The question is why do you believe the front office thought it was necessary to give him more money at that time? Did they believe Blake's value would increase so significantly that they felt they had to throw money at him before necessary? It just would seem more logical to let the 2018 season play out before giving someone who clearly had not shown signs of being a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL.

Bortles played the best football of his career in 2017, particularly in the second half of that season and in the postseason. The idea was to avoid having their quarterback in a “lame-duck” situation, and to get the position signed for three years at a reasonable rate. This in retrospect appears to have been too small a sample size to merit the extension, but it nonetheless was the case. Remember: Bortles’ contract was not ridiculously expensive for a veteran starting quarterback – it, in fact, was comparatively low. Had Bortles played as well in 2018 as he did in 2017, the contract wouldn’t seem nearly as disastrous – and it might not be much of a topic. He did not play that well, so it understandably remains irksome to Jaguars observers.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

I couldn’t help but notice that Ngakoue’s peers didn’t think that he is one of the top 100 players in the league. If he really did refuse a contract that averages three years at $19 million per year, he’s probably making a big mistake ... especially given the fact that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be negotiated and signed prior to the 2021 season. I would hope that players would be smart enough to sign shorter contracts now given that a new CBA could have an effect on how much the players can earn.

Ngakoue is certainly smart, and players have their own reasons and motivation for what they demand during a contract negotiation.

Mike from Rochester, NY

So, at the end of last season, Yannick expressed the desire to be a captain on this team. Now, he tweets out things such as “Take care of the name on the back of your jersey first.” This is troublesome because that appeared to be the issue last season with a number of players. I just hope we don’t have a repeat of last season’s embarrassment.

I wouldn’t sweat this. Business is business in the NFL, and what goes on on the field is what goes on on the field. What Ngakoue or any NFL player tweets or says during a contract negotiation/holdout should in no way be taken to reflect how that player behaves or feels under normal circumstances. Anything Ngakoue says during this time is almost certain to be a non-factor if/when he signs a long-term deal. This is the business side of the NFL. It’s not always pretty, but neither is it a reflection of relationships within the locker room or between players and the coaching staff.

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