O-Zone: Thump thump

JACKSONVILLE — Let’s get to it …

Alejandro from Mexico City, Mexico

Dear Mr. O. Do you think that bringing back T. Gipson with less money is a real possibility? In the end, he is the tenth safety in NFL list of 101 free agents. On the other hand, could you bring a better safety with Gipson's money?

I doubt the Jaguars will bring back free safety Tashaun Gipson for less money just as I doubt the Jaguars will bring back tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins for less money – even though Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell made a point during the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine to emphasize that bringing back Seferian-Jenkins was possible. While teams talk about bringing players back after they test free agency, once a player gets wooed by a new suitor rarely does he go back to his former beau. As for bringing in a better player with Gipson’s money, the Jaguars aren’t likely to pay a veteran safety Gipson’s salary. If they were willing to do that, they would have retained Gipson.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Aside from quarterback, what position do you see them spending the most on in free agency?

Tight end followed by offensive line, with this caveat: Don’t expect the Jaguars to spend big on either position in free agency. Not anything close to “quarterback big,” anyway.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

I recently learned how well Jaguars defensive lineman Taven Bryan performed at last year’s combine, absolutely dominating many of the drills. It makes his rookie season seem that much more disappointing. While I’m sure he didn’t actually perform that much worse than most rookie rotational defensive linemen, how much improvement do you expect from him this season? Do you think he realistically comes anywhere close to Pro Bowl-level production?

Quick tip: Don’t base your hopes up for a player on his NFL Scouting Combine performance. How players perform there is a small enough part of a team’s evaluation process – or at least, it should be a small enough part of that process – that it shouldn’t influence expectations for a player. Bryan needs to be better than he was as a rookie. He has big-time athleticism, speed and strength and needs to improve awareness. Will he be a Pro Bowl player this season? I wouldn’t expect that, but it is reasonable to expect him to be a quality starter.

Nate from Granby

In the recent trade of Antonio Brown from the Steelers to the Raiders, the Steelers have $21 million against the salary cap for next season. If a trade involves giving the contract to the other team, how do the Steelers end up with dead money? Does it have to do with guarantees?

Yes. When a player signs a contract, the salary-cap ramifications of bonuses (guarantees) are prorated over the contract’s duration. When a player is traded, those prorated bonuses all get placed into the League Year in which the trade was made. Because Brown’s trade will go into effect Wednesday at the start of the 2019 League Year, Brown’s bonuses all get placed in 2019 – hence, the $21 million cap hit.

Sean from Jacksonville

Maybe someone asked this already, but if the Jaguars are targeting Nick Foles, why not go ahead and announce the deal and release Blake Bortles? Yes, I know it can't be official until Wednesday(?), but if Nick is the guy, I don't see the holdup. It makes me wonder and that's rarely good for me.

The Jaguars haven’t released quarterback Blake Bortles yet because there’s no reason to release him yet. Until they officially have a deal in place for another quarterback, what’s the point? As far as why they haven’t announced the “Foles deal,” you answered your own question: Negotiations with prospective free agents can’t begin until Monday and nothing can be finalized until Wednesday at 4 p.m. If it can’t be official until then, then there is no deal until then. Therefore, it can’t be released because there is nothing to … well … release.

Jess from Glen Carbon

Foles is not a franchise quarterback. First, he's the backup to Carson Wentz in Philadelphia; if not for Wentz getting injured the last two years nobody is talking about Foles. Second, Philadelphia has a top offensive line, top-level wide receivers and top tight end(s) – and when he hasn't had a strong offensive line with top receivers and tight ends, he hasn't had any success. Jacksonville has the offense Foles had every time when he wasn't successful. The offensive line is bottom half of the league, the wide receivers can't get open or catch and the tight ends have been among the bottom in the league. To think that Foles can take the Jaguars into the playoffs goes against logic when looking at his entire career.

So apparently … one not fer Foles.

Jonathan from Fort Stewart, GA

Hey John-O. I just wanted to throw some love Blake’s way. I know it’s time for him to go and I have no issues with that. But with all the “can-we-cut-Blake-already” talk, I just wanted to say that I always liked Bortles …

… and one fer old time’s sake for Bortles.

Hulk from Las Vegas, NV

Welp, that's one offensive playmaker we missed out on in Antonio Brown; $50 million isn't that bad, either. Now Teddy Bridgewater to the Jags has some legs. We need playmaker badly. Could you see us grabbing Teddy for the cheap then loading up on offense in the draft? I mean money is the real issue and we have an ALL PRO and soon to be ALL PRO contracts on defense to take care of.

Saying that the Jaguars “missed out” on Bryant is misrepresenting the situation; it’s incorrect to say you missed on something if there wasn’t interest. I expect Foles to be the Jaguars’ quarterback next season, but the reality is that we won’t know until the negotiating period begins Monday. That’s when negotiations can begin, and that’s when speculation will begin becoming fact.

Limo Bob from Neptune Beach, FL

A guy pays $2 million to get out of a $20 million contract to now find out that only one team may have interest in him at maybe $15 million?

Pretty much, yes.

Moseh from Mexico, Mexico

I’m very happy with the recent cuts, specially the Parnell cut. He sucked. His best play as a Jaguar was being beaten by Elvis Dumervil in 2015, the play that led us to a final second field goal against Baltimore. It really was time to move on from him.

Former Jaguars right tackle Jermey Parnell didn’t suck. Not even remotely. He wasn’t a Pro Bowl player, but you must be able to win starting at least one or two linemen of Parnell’s level. You’re rarely going to have five starters better than him.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, can you please remind the audience that even if the Jaguars draft an offensive left tackle in the first round, that tackle can be really good, but it's still comical to expect he would be as good as Tony Boselli?

You already did.

Hulk from Las Vegas, NV

Johnny, the more I ponder the more I feel like the REAL issue at quarterback is we don’t have a franchise quarterback available in free agency and this year’s draft. I think the front office feels me on this. Which is why I don’t think they'll even draft a quarterback this year. The play will be offensive talent in the first four or five picks. I can see General Manager Dave Caldwell trading out the Top 10 and acquiring additional second and third rounders: tight end, offensive line, wide receiver and running back in that order. And if it is a quarterback then it's Tyree Jackson out of Buffalo on a flier. What say you?

Sure.

Logan from Wichita, KS

Had a thought ... if Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone would ideally never throw the ball does it really matter who the quarterback is? Or was that a only-if-Blake-Bortles-is-the-QB quarterback mentality? Because with no good wide receivers or tight ends I think running the ball 100 percent of the time is the only plausible option now anyway. I am a free agent and I will come play for the league minimum to hand off every play. Tell me where to send my agent.

Marrone has no problem throwing a lot if the personnel is in place to do effectively – and that means wide receivers, tight ends and offensive linemen as much as quarterback.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

Do you think the Jags could use a "thumper" at linebacker? Or is having three good linebackers no longer a need, with mostly nickel defense being played? What's more important to have? A third linebacker or a fifth or sixth defensive back.

My good friend, Brian, once long ago had a beer funnel he named “thumper.” It wasn’t close to the funniest thing my friend, Brian, said or did. But I always thought that was funny.

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