O-Zone: Tricky situation

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Sean from Jacksonville

So much for 100 percent attendance at mandatory minicamp. I guess we'll see just how much Yannick is worth to the team especially after he had earlier pledged to be with them through all the OTAs and this minicamp. Now he says he is "...committed to Jacksonville, the fans and my teammates." He must have had some bad advice to say one thing after that first OTA and now.

Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is entering the fourth season of his rookie contract, indeed released a statement Monday stating, “I will not be attending minicamp as my contract has not been resolved. I remain committed to Jacksonville, the fans and my teammates. My hope is to be with Jacksonville for years to come.” This understandably became huge news and promises to be a primary topic as the Jaguars begin mandatory minicamp Tuesday at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. Ngakoue’s decision to miss multiple organized team activities in recent weeks surprised me because he had said at the beginning of OTAs he planned to attend them all. I also figured he would attend mandatory minicamp because I thought he had adequately sent his message regarding his desire for a new contract. This decision without question ratchets that message up because skipping mandatory work (this week’s minicamp) is a different message than skipping voluntary work (everything else in the offseason). Will it accelerate a long-term deal getting done? I seriously doubt it. If anything, it could have the opposite effect. That said, Ngakoue has every right to skip whatever he so chooses; a player must act in his own best interest when it comes to securing his fair wage. The team also will have the right to fine him for it because the team has the right to expect a player under contract to attend mandatory activities. I still expect Ngakoue to be with the Jaguars long-term. As I have stated all along, I also expect reaching an agreement on a new contract will be a far more difficult process than Ngakoue and many fans would like. As of Monday, it appears to have become a bit more difficult.

Emile from Tallahassee, FL

In your educated opinion, would Ngakoue report for mandatory practice had the Jaguars not drafted an edge rusher with the No. 7 overall pick?

I don’t get the impression the presence of rookie edge rusher Josh Allen has anything do with Ngakoue’s planned absence this week. I do get the impression that the lack of presence of a new contract has everything to do with Ngakoue’s planned absence this week.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I live in the city and I have a lot of neighbors. The ones upstairs are particularly loud, and I hope they move soon because I cannot take it much longer. That being said, if Ngakoue is a no-show, do you think they pay him, or could this go on for much longer?

Sorry about your neighbors. People are the worst and neighbors are worse than that. I think the Jaguars want to pay Ngakoue, but I don’t know that they want to pay him as much as he wants to be paid – and I don’t think him being a no-show this week will accelerate the sides coming to an agreement.

Curran from Orlando, FL

What is the distinction, skill-wise and size-wise, between the guard and tackle position?

The main distinction is size and length. NFL personnel people like offensive tackles to be taller and “longer” – i.e., longer arms – than guards because those traits tend to mean better leverage to handle edge-rushing defensive ends. Teams tend to like guards a little stouter and lower to the ground to help in run blocking and countering similarly-built defensive interior players.

Michael from Orlando, FL

I am actually unsurprised and unconcerned about Yannick skipping minicamp. Contract drama is as much a part of football as man coverage. Low-to-medium risk, medium to high reward for 91. Yannick will get paid. If he lives up to the contract, no one will hold the holdout or drama against him. All business, and I would play the same cards the same way if I were an NFL Pro Bowl-caliber player and expected to be a cornerstone of the defense. Worry not, it will work out in the end.

You’re right that there’s comparatively little about which to worry when a player misses minicamp. While it sends a different message than missing OTAs because of the mandatory nature of minicamp, it has about the same effect on a player’s ability to be ready for the regular season – which is to say it has a minimal effect if any.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

And so the holdout(s) begin.

Perhaps. If so, it’s part of it. When you draft good players and they come up for new contracts, that’s very often the case.

Seamus from Vancouver, BC

Thanks for answering my questions recently. I'd like to return the favor: this past weekend, I took the fam on a hike in North Vancouver, and while driving there I realized I was driving on Duval Road. I couldn't help but think "Duuuvaaallll!"

OK.

Ray from Jacksonville

John: The Kevin Durant saga reminds me of Fred Taylor being listed as "questionable" for most of a season.

OK.

Red from the O-Zone Comments Section

Sbarro's??? Blech! I'd about rather eat day old Little Caeser's out of a dumpster! Oh, and the Gene jokes are still not the least bit funny. Even if he could surf, he would fall victim to one of the big tiger sharks lurking in the Jax surf.

Trust me, Red: A tiger shark wants no part of longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette.

Bradley from Oceanside, CA

What about a 17 -game season with the last game being flexed to create the most relevant matchup decided by that Frenette dude?

Roger Goodell … hire this man!

Mason from Palm Bay, FL

How do you see the wide receiver group shaking out? Feels like Lee, Conley, Dede, and Chark are locks. Do you think we keep six receivers when we cut down to 53? Should be a good camp battle.

I think Marqise Lee, Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook and DJ Chark Jr. are locks with Keelan Cole very close to a lock. I’ll have to see how recently-acquired Terrelle Pryor Sr. looks in training camp before figuring where he might fit, though his athleticism and size has stood out in the couple of practices he has been with the team. There is a good chance the Jaguars will keep six wide receivers. I’ve seen a few flashes from rookies such as Tyre Brady and Dredrick Snelson, but not enough to project if they will have a chance to be among the top five or six come the regular season.

Bradley from Oceanside, CA

Do you prefer Sbarro for the same reason I still prefer the cheap Kraft mac and cheese with the powder cheese?

If you prefer the cheap Kraft mac and cheese with the powder cheese because it dances on your taste buds like a lithe ballerina, leaving you in awe at the wonder and glory of the palate … then YES!

Gero from Wenden, Germany

Hello, John. In the past years, the German television producer asked the head coaches and owners of the teams in the Super Bowl the question about a possible NFL game in Germany. All interviewees think it is good to extend the International Series to one or more games in Germany, as interest has grown extremely in Europe and especially in Germany. Do you think the Jaguars could imagine playing a game in Germany in the future? Or play two games back-to-back internationally – one in Great Britain and one in Germany.

I don’t see the Jaguars playing a home game anywhere internationally other than London because Owner Shad Khan long has been focused on developing that as the Jaguars’ international second home. I certainly could see other teams playing regular-season games in many other cities and countries, including Germany.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Seen this coming a mile away! Pay the man! He has balled and been a good teammate for what’s reported. What the hell else they want? Paid Norwell hasn’t lived up to it paid church paid Gip paid Calais took on Dareus all players who weren’t home grown.

Paying a player is never as simple as people who say “Pay the man!” imply, and finding the right salary for Ngakoue is more difficult than simply saying “Pay the man!” It’s a tricky negotiation because: A. the Jaguars are in a different salary-cap situation than when they paid the players you mention; and B. they need to be aware of how Ngakoue’s contract will fit into the salary cap going forward. I believe it will get done, and I think there’s an increasingly good chance it will get done relatively soon, but it’s not just a matter of “Paying the man!”

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