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O-Zone: Wait, Mr. Postman

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

So, the Jaguars get one of the NFL's best young pass rushers and now they won't pay him. Leave it to the Jaguars to screw this one up. And they did. Surprise, surprise.

You're referencing Tuesday afternoon's news that Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue apparently will not report to 2019 Training Camp Wednesday, which apparently means he plans to hold out because he and the team have not agreed to a long-term deal. This news was hardly unexpected considering Ngakoue had missed much of the team's voluntary organized team activities and the team's mid-June mandatory minicamp for the same reason; in fact, it would have been surprising at this point if Ngakoue had reported on time this week without a contract extension. As for leaving it to the Jaguars "to screw this one up," I completely understand why many fans feel that way. Ngakoue, a third-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is a fan favorite who has more than earned a lucrative second contract in three seasons by far exceeding expectations. And it's true that the Jaguars have spent big money signing and re-signing free agents who haven't performed nearly as well as Ngakoue – former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles perhaps being the best example. Many fans therefore believe the Jaguars are being ridiculous and stupid by not simply paying Ngakoue and getting this situation resolved. But from the Jaguars' perspective, they can't simply pay Ngakoue whatever he demands if it doesn't fit what they believe they should be paying; there must be a limit on what a team will pay. The assumption by many observers is that Ngakoue is seeking $20 million a year, which essentially is what free-agent pass rushers such as Frank Clark of Kansas City and Demarcus Lawrence of Dallas received earlier this offseason. The difference is that those players were on the verge of becoming free agents whereas Ngakoue has another year remaining on his rookie contract with the Jaguars having the option to retain him with the franchise tag for a year after that. That's a very real thing in the world of NFL contract renegotiation, and it figures to make the coming weeks trickier than many fans – and Ngakoue – would like.

Bud from Orange Park, FL

Do you think Ngakoue misses games this season?

No. Ngakoue would lose a year of accrual toward unrestricted free agency if he doesn't report before 30 days before the regular season. I think a deal may get done before that deadline. I imagine Ngakoue will report before then if a deal is not reached.

Jim from Jagsonvolle

So, the Jaguars placed running back Ryquell Armstead, wide receiver Marqise Lee and left tackle Cam Robinson on the physically unable to perform list Tuesday. Is PUP something just so they won't be required to perform in training camp without penalty, or is this a year-long designation?

The NFL's PUP list is more roster mechanism than an indication of a crisis. Teams place players on preseason PUP primarily as a precautionary measure. A player on regular-season PUP can be activated six weeks into the regular season and doesn't take up a roster spot while on PUP. But to be on regular-season PUP, a player can't have practiced during training camp. Because a player can be removed from preseason PUP at anytime, and because he can participate in meetings while on PUP, there's no penalty to starting him in preseason PUP. If – as expected – Lee/Robinson/Armstead can practice during training camp, they can be activated at any time. If they can't practice during training camp/preseason, they can then be placed on the regular-season PUP list.

Matt from Bartow, FL

John, I assume this will come up a few times for you today, so I thought I'd throw it out there too... do you think the team will kick the tires on wide receiver Allen Hurns after his release from the Dallas Cowboys?

Hurns, who played for the Jaguars from 2014-2017, spent last season with Dallas – and reports are that he soon will be released by the Cowboys. If Hurns has completely recovered from the difficult-to-watch ankle injury he sustained in last year's postseason, and if he's looking to sign for something close to the veteran minimum with a minimum signing bonus … then maybe it would be a consideration. But realistically, I doubt it.

Thomas from Charlottesville, VA

Which Jaguar is now the fastest, most-elusive, trick-play player on the team?

Which Jaguar is the what?

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

So, please clarify how does one retire as a rookie prior to getting a job on the roster? Seems a little odd. Any insight why someone would just give up before even trying like Woods did? Very strange indeed.

You're referencing former Jaguars undrafted free agent safety Zedrick Woods, who submitted retirement papers before reporting to 2019 Training Camp. Woods' agent – Rob Butler – told media covering the Jaguars that Woods had been dealing with a turf-toe injury that may have influenced the decision. Woods, who played at Lake City (Fla.) Columbia High School and Ole Miss, had run a 4.29-second, 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and was projected by some analysts as a possible mid-round draft selection – and some had speculated he had a chance to make the 53-man roster. So, yes … the retirement is unusual. Still, it's hardly unprecedented. The NFL is a difficult league. It's not for everyone, and players step away at various times for various reasons.

Bad and Nationwide

How could I miss your birthday? It's the same day as mine. I got served with divorce papers for my birthday, but I still have my season tickets. What did you get?

A different present than what you got. I think.

Otto from Ponte Vedra, FL

John, it seems we've heard nothing about Posluszny since he retired. Does he have any contact with the Jaguars at all? He was the heart and soul of the team. I would think if he made a one-day camp visit and just met the team, whether individually or en masse, he would impart some of his heart and soul to the players. We could have used him last year.

I spoke with Posluszny when putting together the 25 Seasons, 25 Games series that recently ran on commemorating the Jaguars' 25th season. He seemed at peace with retirement, though he admitted he very much missed the game and being around the NFL. He has been around the team occasionally since retiring last offseason, but – as you might expect – he generally has kept a distance. This isn't unusual; when players retire from the NFL, they rarely spend much time around the organization unless they have an official role. As for a one-day camp visit, I doubt you will see that soon – and I'm not sure there's much point in it. Posluszny's influence on this team was strong. Players who played with him remember his approach. A quick meeting with his former teammates wouldn't have had much effect one way or the other.

Ed from Danvers, MA

How about this: Cut the preseason to three games with Games 1 and 3 being home or away; Game 2 could be played at a neutral site. Also, expand the regular season to 17 games with the extra game being played in Week 5 before the BYES at the same neutral site as the second preseason game between the same two teams.


Tudor from St. Augustine, FL

I'd like to add context from the fan perspective to the discussion of player contracts. It is absolutely true that the average NFL career is short, and players take big risks. But last time I checked, fans aren't complaining about the backup kicker making $800,000 a year instead of $700,000 a year. Fans mostly take issue with the big contract players wanting $20 million a year instead of $16 million a year. Let's say it's a three-year deal: $48 million in three years is not enough? That's enough money for me to quit my job, never work again and I'm 33. At some point it's not about the risk anymore; it's about that sixth Ferrari, and that my friend is a word called "greed."

First, we're not friends. Second, I'll reiterate what remains a primary point about this discussion: While it's true players make more money over a few years than many fans will earn in a lifetime, that doesn't change that most have just one opportunity for this life-changing contact. They therefore want to maximize that one opportunity. It's fine to consider their actions greedy, but the reality is few people in the situation wouldn't want to maximize that opportunity.

John from Ponte Vedra, FL

Given we know what you do for a living and you are married, the answer to the question probably is obvious. Do you sometimes feel like you have been tied to a whippin' post?

I stopped worrying about it a long time ago.

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