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O-Zone: Tricky stuff

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Let's get to it …

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson spoke of excitement for the resources the Jags have available to try to turn things around. Second-most salary cap space in the NFL this year. While it may be oversimplifying to put it this way, do you agree that it would be a huge disappointment and a failure to commit if they don't essentially spend the second-most amount of money in free agency this year?

The answer depends on your perspective. I imagine fans and observers will interpret your scenario as failure, because many fans and observers automatically link commitment to huge free-agency spending. And I do believe the Jaguars will be "aggressive" in free agency – meaning targeting more home-run, high-dollar free agents than was the case last offseason. But remember: The worst thing to do in free agency is to spend for the sake of spending and to overpay big-name players you deep-down know aren't worth what you're paying. That leaves you stuck in a yearly cycle of disappointment and doesn't realistically get you any closer to winning. Would it be a disappointment and failure if the Jaguars don't spend the most money in free agency this offseason? No, it will be a failure if they spend wildly and freely without rhyme nor reason. That would be scary, too, and phenomenally counterproductive. Spend … yes. But spend wisely with the idea of really improving the roster. Not with the idea of pleasing fans or reaching some arbitrary number to impress the masses.

Steve from Nocatee

Zone, if Walker Little can replace Cam Robinson, that says to me that they are equally talented. Why let Robinson go if we finally have a position that we don't have to worry about? That's exactly what has caused the Jags to have so many needs; we haven't signed our decent players to second contracts while developing our draft picks. The same ingredients cause the same result. What say you, Zone?

I say the idea that the Jaguars may re-sign left tackle Cam Robinson is being discussed among observers at the Scouting Combine, with at least one outlet this week reporting that that could happen. That report also is in line with General Manager Trent Baalke and Pederson on Tuesday both discussing the need for the Jaguars to sign players to second contracts. That conversation doesn't guarantee the Jaguars can sign Robinson – a second-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft – to a second contract, but such a move makes sense because it could mean Little starting at right tackle and Robinson on the left. That could mean right tackle Jawaan Taylor backing up the tackle positions, or possibly moving inside to guard. It would go a long way to clarifying how the line will look moving forward – and it could allow the Jaguars to select pass rusher No. 1 overall and wide receiver early in Round 2. Maybe. Possibly. We'll see. It will be an interesting couple of weeks or so until free agency begins.

Corey from Madison, WI

I know "fans are gonna fan," but after seeing a lot of fan reactions lately on multiple platforms I think a lot of fans are just bad at fanning ...

There's no bad or good way to fan. There's no right or wrong way to fan. There are some weird ways to fan. And some ways I would rather not discuss, but no right or wrong way.

Dave from Canada

Hi, John. With respect to an answer you gave recently about Khan's intention to hire an EVP, you literally always say only Khan knows as he keeps things close to the vest. That being said, how do you know what his intentions were regarding this position? Just because he said it during a press conference does not make it true. He could just as easily have been leading fans along to placate them as many do not support Baalke running the team.

Jaguars Owner Shad Khan considered hiring an executive vice president of football operations. He strongly considered it. He said as much on February 6, and it was the truth. He liked what he saw from Pederson in terms of improving the culture in the building and he put the idea of hiring an EVP on pause. He wasn't placating the fans. If he was doing that he would have gone forward with the idea and hired an EVP. Fans who disliked the idea of Baalke as general manager aren't significantly happier with it now than they were a month ago. This wasn't that. Like the current situation or not … believe what you will about Khan's intention … he wasn't lying. He wasn't placating. He considered something. And he changed his mind. Human beings do that. It's what Khan did.

Scott from Jacksonville

I agree with you completely on Khan. Changing direction or changing your mind isn't the same thing as lying. Just ask my wife.

Funny. And fair.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Trying to grasp the EVP/no EVP issue. If the original reason for an EVP was to have final say and thus be able to resolve any differences between GM and HC, then what Shad Khan now sees as good chemistry between GM and HC apparently negates the need for an EVP. But doesn't an EVP usually have other duties as well? Isn't there typically some overlap such as financial management, facility maintenance and upgrades, etc.? If so, wouldn't there still be value in hiring an EVP?

Yes, an EVP of football operations has other duties other than to "settle differences." But his primary duties are to oversee football operations.

Chris from London, UK

King O, I think we can all agree that we are short of top-quality players, so I don't really understand why we don't keep both our best receiver (DJ Chark Jr.) and our best left tackle (Robinson). I don't care about value. We cannot afford to lose our best players. Period.

You may not care about value. And other fans and observers may not care about it, either. It's not the job of fans and observers to care about such things. It is the job of Baalke to care about such things – and the job of Pederson to an extent as well. With that in mind, the Jaguars' decision-makers must decide how they view the potential of Chark/Robinson over the duration of their potential contracts, and how those contracts fit with the player's likely level of play – and how those contracts impact the team's abilities to make other roster moves and decisions. It's fine for Chark to currently be the Jaguars' best receiver, but paying him far more than his production merits by definition limits the potential of the roster over time. Ditto Robinson. With Robinson, you also must determine if he's better than other potential starters at the position on the roster and in the draft. I like the idea of retaining both, but it's far from a clear-cut, no-brainer decision.

Mike from Duval

"I also have no reason to think that he will be a bad general manager." Look, I'm a Jaguars ride or die, I can't change, I've tried. I feel like your sentiments might be similar to Khan's, I don't know. O, people are basing their opinion of Baalke on his abysmal history. C'mon man. No reason?! I hope he works out, maybe he had some bad breaks, but not thinking there's a reason why he might be successful based on his record is wild. I think Khan screwed up, this is based on history, here's hoping I'm wrong and Baalke helps us become a successful franchise.

Baalke's past history as a general manager is three conference championship appearances – and a Super Bowl appearance – with the San Francisco 49ers in six seasons. He has been the Jaguars' general manager one season – in circumstance that make it impossible to really judge his still-short tenure. Still, one not fer Baalke …

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, it must be from that time Trent Baalke showed up with seltzer beer and veggie brats that has fans fanning. The San Francisco 49ers currently have a handful of players on their roster from his tenure. And aside from WR Camp, the Jaguars seem to have a solid 2021 draft class. So, I don't get it ... why are fans down on Baalke?

… and one fer Baalke – and not fer seltzer (I think).

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked like Archie Manning in 1973 running around in the red zone trying to find a halfway open receiver. The Jags should overpay Chark so Lawrence doesn't look like Archie in '74 this coming year.

The Jaguars unquestionably must improve at receiver. I like the idea of Chark, and it was intriguing to hear Pederson and Caldwell on Tuesday both emphasizing the importance of re-signing players to second contracts. Both discussed that as something that must happen more regularly for the long-term health of the franchise. Re-signing Chark, a second-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2018 NFL Draft, in one sense would seem a way to start doing that. But in another sense he remains after four NFL seasons something of an unknown. This is tricky. Free agency begins March 16.