O-Zone: Viva Las Voice

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Graham from Reading, UK

Hi Zone, does placing the non-exclusive tag on Yan mean that we are looking to trade him?

No. The Jaguars placed the NFL's non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive end Yannick Ngakoue Friday to reduce his options in unrestricted free agency – and to give the Jaguars more time to negotiate a long-term deal with the veteran pass rusher. While the non-exclusive tag allows other teams to negotiate with Ngakoue and sign him to a contract – a contract the Jaguars would have the right to match – it's unlikely a team would do that because they would have to give the Jaguars two first-round draft selections if the Jaguars didn't match the offer. Ngakoue therefore essentially now can sign the tag and play for the Jaguars on a one-year deal worth nearly $20 million -- or not play in the NFL in the 2020 season. While the Jaguars certainly have the option of trading Ngakoue – and while his recent Tweets and social-media posts indicate he might prefer that – that is not currently the Jaguars' preference.

Brucifer from Owensboro, KY

Ngakoue previously held the rookie sack record for the Jaguars. That was overlooked in the website article.

Not in the one on this website, it wasn't.

Don from Marshall, NC

Those draft picks are golden. You have guys more ready to play than ever coming from college. You lock them down to rookie contracts. If you draft well then you're not rebuilding your ascending. Young and ascending with an exciting quarterback. Go Jaguars!

The Jaguars are indeed attempting to retool on the fly. That seems like a better description of what they're trying to do than rebuilding – if only because no one around the Jaguars is thinking that winning now isn't important. You're right that that will mean depending on a lot of young players, and that's difficult. Mostly it appears it will mean depending on quarterback Gardner Minshew II to be as consistently magical as he was at times last season. If that happens, they're in good shape. If it doesn't…

Pookie from Panama City, FL

"The NFLPA criticism last season was directed at former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, who is no longer with the team." I've heard this argument in defense of the current leadership's reputation several times, both in your column and elsewhere in the local sports media. Yet, the NFLPA never issued a retraction of their statement after Coughlin was fired, did they? And Ngakoue did not start publicly expressing his dissatisfaction with the Jaguars until well after Coughlin was gone from the organization. Two home games in London; many of its biggest stars feeling the need to publicly embarrass them; the return of an inept coach and a general manager who couldn't draft a thank-you note - this team is trash.

Pointing out that Coughlin is no longer with the organization is not "arguing" or "defending" anything; it's simply stating the facts around the issue that arose in December. The NFLPA criticized the Jaguars for exorbitant fining, and Jaguars Owner Shad Khan dismissed Coughlin shortly thereafter. Was that the wrong action? And did you really expect a retraction from the NFLPA? And did it not occur to you that Ngakoue began expressing his dissatisfaction as the start of the NFL League Year approached – and therefore the time when negotiations and deadlines around free agency also approached? Look, I get that people are going to dislike what's going on around the Jaguars until they win. That's the reality, and the Jaguars have played their way into that situation. But there are some issues around the team that are easily explained, and logical. A player being unhappy in a contract negotiation and expressing as much? That's one of them, and it doesn't point to the organization being a disaster.

Chad from Yulee, FL

I read a tweet recently that said some teams might benefit from not mating with certain players with character concerns. It explained that in the past scouts may have warned organizations about character concerns they uncovered during the scouting process that were ignored once the decision-makers met with them when said players were able to present themselves in a good light. What are your thoughts about this theory and would you put the Jaguars' front office in this category with the likes of defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and cornerback Jalen Ramsey as Top 5 picks where their on-field ability along with pre-draft interviews may have trumped a scout's info gathered during the scouting process.

This issue is not new, and it's certainly not exclusive to the Jaguars. NFL teams have wrestled with character issues since I began covering the league in 1995, and I imagine they have wrestled with it on some level since the league began. In that sense, any employer in any field wrestles with the issue. Bottom line in the NFL: If you eliminate every player with any character concern you limit yourself so severely that you may as well not try to compete in the NFL. You must evaluate each player individually – and in many cases simply decide if that player fits. It's a difficult, exhaustive process – and one that's about far more than simply pre-draft interviews. Have the Jaguars always made great decisions on this front recently? Clearly not. They must do better, but that's an ongoing effort for every NFL team.

Sean from Jacksonville

Maybe I already asked, but what NFL rules – if any – govern your position with the team? Is it just a free-for-all?

Rules are for losers.

Brian from Jacksonville

If Becton is still on the board at No. 9 overall, he must be selected by the Jaguars. It's dreaming to think he'll still be available, but all bets are off if he is. This guy is a franchise. He alone would make this a successful draft. Marrone would smile. No way he passes on this guy. Say it's so, O.

Many analysts agree with you that Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton is the best left tackle available in the 2020 NFL Draft and a franchise-level player. I doubt he will be available at No. 9 overall, and I doubt at this point that the Jaguars are leaning toward the position there. But some prospects are good enough that teams must draft them if they come available regardless of which way the team might otherwise be leaning. Becton could be such a player.

Kev from Jacksonville

People forget Donald Payne had 57 tackles in four games filling in for Myles Jack at Mike linebacker last season. At this point the Jags could really benefit from a value player who is productive at a small price. I think saving money, going with Payne, and spending / drafting elsewhere would be a smart move for General Manager Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone. Thoughts?

I think the Jaguars will try to sign a veteran middle linebacker and move Jack outside. The Jaguars like Payne, but it's fair to say observers like him more. I think Payne probably will get a chance to be a backup/special teams player.

Shon from San Antonio, TX

If Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert falls to No. 9, do we take him if no trade offer is there? He's a better athlete and had more upside that either quarterback we have currently. I think if we're having a quarterback battle, we don't have a quarterback yet, right?

I would be for the Jaguars taking a quarterback at No. 9 for the reasons you cite – IF they believe strongly in a quarterback available. That probably means a quarterback being pretty close to a lock to be elite. I don't have a sense that Herbert is that. But there's a long time before the 2020 NFL Draft. Stay tuned.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Ramsey and Jack were in a TC year. If he gets the blame, he gets the credit, too. Caldwell has drafted horribly except ARob; that was his good pick.

This is incorrect. Former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Jack were selected in the 2016 NFL Draft. Coughlin joined the Jaguars as Senior Executive Vice President of Football Operations in January 2017. But thank you for reading and writing. Hell, thanks for everything.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Buyer beware on University of Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson and buy low on Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown. In my opinion, Henderson is oversold as a prospect and Brown is undersold. Here's to hoping we have a chance to select Brown and pass on a chance to select Henderson any time before Round 3. Will you be in Vegas to watch?

So, one fer Brown and one not fer Henderson. And no … I won't be covering the draft in Las Vegas next month. The hub of a team's draft operations is its headquarters, and I better serve the reader by being in Jacksonville on draft night/weekend to report from there. We'll instead be sending Brian "King of Craps" Sexton to the draft. The assignment fits his freewheeling, high-rolling, 4 a.m. persona. #vegasbaby

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