O-Zone: True friendship

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Charles from Jacksonville, AL

Why won't the Jags just pay Yannick his money? He has earned it ... and it isn't exactly easy to find young, productive pass rushers.

This is a common refrain among Jaguars fans these days – that the team should “just pay” defensive end Yannick Ngakoue what he wants. It was that way even before Ngakoue opted to skip mandatory minicamp this week, and I expect we’ll continue to hear the refrain until Ngakoue’s contract song ends – however it ends. But while Ngakoue absolutely has earned a second contract with a major raise, if he’s demanding $20 million a season, then it’s difficult to argue that the Jaguars should “just pay” him that. That’s an astronomical number, even if it’s perceived to be “market value.” I do believe the Jaguars and Ngakoue will agree to a contract that keeps him with the team on a long-term basis. But these things rarely get done easily – and considering the loftiness of that $20-million figure, this one darned sure won’t be easy.

John from Jacksonville

Do all players get fined the same amount for not showing up for mandatory minicamp? I assume it is a per-day-missed type of deal.

Players can be fined $14,775 for missing the first day of mandatory minicamp, $29,550 for missing the second day and $44,335 for missing the third day.

Ryan from Apopka, FL

The largest cornerback contract currently sits at $75 million total ($15 million/season) with $36 million fully guaranteed. I think we can all agree that Ramsey will set all new highs whenever he signs his next agreement. What do you think he signs at? Can he crack $100m total and $50m guaranteed?

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s next contract could exceed $100 million total because it’s very feasible to structure a contract that way – even if it’s unlikely that a player will earn the entire contract. The guarantee is different because of the “guarantee” part. I doubt that Ramsey’s will quite reach $50 million guaranteed, but he will be close.

Chris from Nashville, TN

Who are the Jags releasing to free up cap space for Yann?

It likely won’t be necessary to release a player to free cap space for Ngakoue if and when he signs a new contract. Contracts always can be restructured and money can be allocated in different ways to different players to make the cap work for the short term. The bigger issue is whether the Jaguars in the long term want to meet Ngakoue’s demands. No one argues that Ngakoue shouldn’t be paid more than he’s making. The issue is whether the Jaguars believe what he demands makes sense in their cap moving forward.

Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436 Since 1995

I haven't seen or heard much about any undrafted free agents. Is there a chance even one will make the team so far?

Yes.

Chris from Space City, TX

So, we have Yann sitting at home watching SportsCenter. Ramsey at camp shrugging and laughing that he will not get a much-deserved contract extension. This all falls on grumpy grandpa, Tom Coughlin. He has overpaid unworthy players (Blake Bungles being the biggest and most idiotic mistake) to the extent we can take care of the present and future. Now that it is time to pay our core defensive group (the group that really carried us to the AFC Championship game a few years back), he wants them to wait. Tom Gramps-lin should've been this stern before he emptied the Brink's truck in front of Bleak Bortles' last offseason.

We can continue to bemoan the Bortles extension until the end of time, and yes: the contract proved to be a mistake and the dead money involved certainly doesn’t help the situation. But it’s a little too simplistic to say the Jaguars already would have signed Ngakoue had it not been for the Bortles deal. They would have had more cap room, but the same issues – i.e. exactly how much it makes sense to pay Ngakoue and how that fits moving forward – would be there whatever the Jaguars had done with Bortles’ contract.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

If Mr. Ngakoue does not come to terms with the team, does he have to sit out for a year? Doesn’t he realize that will take his value down?

No, Ngakoue does not have to sit out a season. He can play 2019 under his current contract, and, in fact, he is contractually obligated to do so.

Josh from Pensacola, FL

I believe this assessment of the Jaguars to be accurate. The signing of quarterback Nick Foles to such a lucrative contract has caused dissension on this team. There are other players who feel they should have been taken care of first. Also, I don’t feel like this team has bought in and I think the players have a dislike for Coughlin. He also has the team in salary cap trouble which is one of his trademarks. That being said, this is the most concerning offseason I’ve ever experienced as a lifelong Jags fan and I only touched on a couple of the concerns.

Interesting beliefs – and while I understand why someone would come to such conclusions, they conclusions just don’t fit the feel around here. While there are players who want to get paid more, I don’t get the idea that Foles’ contract is the source; players understand the team needed a quarterback, and Foles’ personality type seems to minimize resentment. While I can’t say how players feel about Coughlin, he doesn’t coach the team so players’ interaction with him is minimal enough that I don’t know that their feelings toward him one way or the other are important. And while many paint the team as being in “salary-cap trouble,” that’s a bit of a myth; they absolutely are tighter against the cap than was the case in 2013-2014, but they are now in a position where they must release players toward the end of their contracts – a situation that most teams around the NFL face annually. The Jaguars, remember, got three years out of free agents such as defensive tackle Malik Jackson and safety Tashaun Gipson; those lengths of tenure were pretty much expected considering how the contracts were structured. As for your concern over this offseason, I don’t know that this offseason is any more concerning than any others – and in fact, considering the addition of Foles and what on paper looks like a decent draft class, there might be as much reason for optimism as concern.

Tom from Charleston, SC

Did I not hear Yannick Ngakoue state that he would be at all team activities and that he wanted to be a captain and team leader? Did he not say that the contract was to be negotiated between his agent and the front office? Not so much a truth. Twenty-four hours certainly brought a different feeling. If this is what a Jaguars leader acts like we are in trouble. I know that I am in the minority, but he is under contract for 2019 if he won’t honor that contact, let him walk.

Missing a mandatory minicamp, while a stronger move than missing voluntary OTAs, is a much different thing than missing training camp. There is no indication that Ngakoue plans to miss training camp. Would I be surprised if he was prepared to hold out? Not anymore, but it’s not fair to assume he will do so.

Bruce from E Street

Do you think Yannick’s agent is pushing the issue now so that he can jump in the “get-paid” line before Jalen or Myles?

Perhaps a bit, but that would be unnecessary. With Ramsey under contract through 2020, his extension was unlikely to get done before the end of the 2019 season. With Ngakoue been a pass rusher – and more importantly, a productive one – his contract was going to take precedent over that of Jack.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John: re rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, I think half the problem (height, arm strength) is easily remedied: elevator cleats.

Googling this.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Just watched video of wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell mic’dd up in practice. How could anyone not love that guy? The combination of enthusiasm, demanding coaching, and humor is inspiring. In your opinion, do you see Keenan eventually moving up in the coaching ranks?

Yes.

RVJAG from North Augusta, SC

Is it mandatory for players to give interviews at certain media days? Do the player contracts include requirements that they do these interviews? I have noticed that mostly high draft picks are interviewed.

Players are required under NFL rules to talk during the regular season, but they are not required to do so in the offseason. Most early-drafted rookies speak to the media because the team wants to promote those players to the fans, and because most rookies go along with what the team suggests. As players become more established, some remain media friendly and willing to do interviews. Others get a little … well, less media-friendly.

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