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O-Zone: Turning the corner

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … George from Savannah, GA:
Can you elaborate on why you don't think the Jags will not heavily pursue Suh?
John: I'm getting this question a lot this week, and my thoughts on Ndamukong Suh and the Jaguars run counter to what some nationally believe. Because of the Jaguars' cap situation (they have much cap space and cash) and Suh's potential salary (it will probably require a lot of cap space and cash), I think the Jaguars will heavily pursue many players, but I don't think Suh will be one of them. While there have been people nationally speculating otherwise, I have heard more credible people say it's not likely. As far as reasons they wouldn't, they have two starting defensive tackles – Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller – and I think they believe their focus/money will be better served pursuing positions of greater need. (Note: As I've written in recent days, my personal thought on Suh and the Jaguars more and more is, "Why not? The Jaguars have money and space and Suh's a safe signing in terms of ability, albeit an expensive one." But this isn't about my preferences, and my thoughts don't mean the Jaguars will heavily pursue Suh. I don't think they will. We'll see.)
Hunter from Jacksonville:
Did anybody use the franchise tag on Tebow?
John: Not this year.
Kevin from Palatka, FL:
So, is Cecil Shorts III still talking over new contract possibilities with the Jaguars? Or is he pretty much all packed and out the door? He didn't have a great season last year, but he has made some pretty big plays for us in the past. I've had the chance to meet him a few times and he's a great guy. Hate to see him go.
John: The Jaguars have said nothing official about this, but I've written before and write again now that all signs point to Shorts signing elsewhere. Shorts is a good player, and as I've written often, I've enjoyed covering him as much as I've enjoyed covering any player in 20 years around the NFL. He's all class, and as you have seen in your dealings with him, he's as genuine as you can imagine. If he is gone, I will miss covering him next season and believe he will perform well at his next stop.
Christopher from Philadelphia, PA:
With McCourty set to hit the market, I am curious. Do you think that Rahim Moore could be the better value?
John: I think McCourty is the better value because I think he's a really good player and you don't get a chance to sign really good players all of the time in free agency.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Not question so much as a statement of fact. I now manage to somehow work "Fans gonna fan" into at least one conversation a day. Keep up the good work.
John: Tell your friends I'm sorry. For many things, including that.
John from Jacksonville:
Would a free-agent wide receiver or tight end picked up by the Jags next week (if this occurred) be eligible to join the Bortles camp in California? Also, would any drafted this spring be eligible if such a camp occurred after the draft? Will Blake be wearing a live-streaming GoPro camera during his camp? Or maybe they can strap one to the football.
John: Pretty much anyone can go to California, run routes and catch passes from Bortles. If you have shoes and a nice Dri-Fit shirt, you could go, too, I suppose (note: pack shorts, too). As far as the camp, let's not go too, too overboard in emphasizing its importance. Some Jaguars receivers and running backs likely will go to California to throw and catch with Bortles – for a few days, maybe a bit more. That will be a positive thing. I don't know that it will be a career-changing, franchise-altering thing for anyone involved, but it sure can't hurt. Of far more importance is the work Bortles is doing on his fundamentals, something he is already doing and likely will continue doing throughout much of the offseason.
Damien from Appleton, WI:
What do you think is the chance of seeing Worilds from the Steelers wearing teal next season?
John: Slim.
James from St. Augustine, FL:
Johnny O, this was a bit of a miss, yea? "John: First, Bulaga and Cobb almost certainly won't both hit the open market. It appears at this point it could be a one-or-the-other scenario with those two for the Packers. If all of the aforementioned hit free agency I'd say the Jaguars pursue all four with pretty much equal effort. Not to be wishy-washy, but those are all in the wheelhouse.
John: Free agency begins March 10. We'll see if Bulaga and Cobb are both available. There's a better chance they could be now than before the franchise tags are applied, but this ain't over yet.
Aaron from Chantilly:
From what I hear, the Redskins may be interested in letting Pierre Garcon go because of the amount of money they have invested in that position. I think he still has three years left in him and would add experience to our wide receiver group. What's your thoughts?
John: I think that would surprise me a lot.
Maduceone from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Listening to ESPN praise Dez Bryant reminds me of the tragic story of Justin Blackmon, Dez' teammate at Oklahoma State. He had better numbers and would have been an elite receiver for the Jags by now! Is there any chance that Blackmon could still return someday soon?
John: Yes, there's a chance. The Jaguars aren't counting on Blackmon to play again, but if he is eligible to play in the NFL, he almost certainly will play for the Jaguars. I think there's a good chance this happens next season. We'll see.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Piecing together some of your comments, our wide receiver corps for 2015 could be Ace Sanders, Justin Blackmon, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, Randall Cobb and Allen Robinson. Does not sound all that bad.
John: No, it doesn't.
Charles from Bangalore, India:
John, we learned last year with the Bortles pick that Caldwell is not necessarily a guy you want sitting in on your neighborhood poker game. In your opinion is his announcement that he would trade down Smoke or real?
John: Very, very, very, very real.
Trent from North Dakota:
Regarding Justin Houston, if you were the general manager of a team that has an end-of-the-first-round draft choice in the current draft, would you try to sign him? I know it takes two 'first'-round selections if you get him. Or is that price too much yet even for a player of that caliber?
John: I wouldn't sign Houston. He's a very good player – better, in fact, than most people realize – but the reality is all you're doing by signing him to an offer sheet is just setting the market for Kansas City, which will match the offer and sign him anyway. You won't lose anything, but you won't gain anything, either.
Quinn from Tampa, FL:
If Andre Johnson is released by the Texans would the Jags pursue him? Even at 33, it seems like it would make sense. Reggie Wayne and Steve Smith have shown receivers can be productive into their mid-to-late 30s. I think he would command enough respect to draw double coverages, which could open up some opportunities for the younger receivers. I also think Andre would benefit being on a deep receiving corps where he wouldn't be counted on to be "the guy." I'm sure he would love to face the Texans a couple times after they chose to release him.
John: I doubt Johnson would be the guy if he signed with the Jaguars, and reputation doesn't draw double coverages. But a guy like Johnson could help, even if he wasn't the No. 1 guy.
Lee from Jacksonville:
O-man, in your opinion how much is a non-quarterback worth? In a salary cap league what's the max a player like Suh should get?
John: A player is worth what the market dictates. All indications are that sometime next week Suh is going to be worth more than any NFL defensive player ever.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
What qualities make Toby Gerhart a serviceable 3rd down back in 2015?
John: The same ones that made him serviceable on third downs late in the 2014 season – i.e., the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and block when needed.
Christian from Orlando, FL:
Obviously "football instincts" are important at every position, but how crucial are they for the OTTO position.
John: No more so than at any position, but yeah … they're important.
Brian from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Is this what "turning the corner" feels like?
John: I assume you're asking about the excitement around the upcoming free-agency period. My answer would be, "No, this is not what turning the corner feels like." This is what creating phenomenal excitement and expectations feels like. If those things lead to turning the corner, terrific. We'll see if it does.

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