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O-Zone: Way far out there

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, there has been lots of talk of the Jaguars signing Nick Foles, whether by trade or calling the Eagles’ bluff and waiting for his release. My question for you is do you think the Jags should sign Foles? You correctly note that if they do, then there will be no splash draft pick. They’d be deciding the fate of the quarterback position, good or bad, for the next several seasons.

If it were my decision, I would draft a rookie quarterback and have him move into the starting position a few games into the season. That would be my direction because the Jaguars are selecting in the Top 10 of the 2019 NFL Draft, and your best chance at a long-term franchise quarterback is to select one early in the first round and develop him. I would go into the draft willing to move up a few spots to get Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins (assuming the Jaguars believe he’s the best available quarterback). If the price to trade up to get Haskins is ridiculous along the lines of too much first-round draft capital, I would select either Drew Lock of Missouri or Daniel Jones of Duke – assuming I believe those two players will be starting-level quarterbacks in the NFL. All in all, this is a tricky situation for the Jaguars. There’s no obvious direction because while most of the quarterbacks – veterans and rookies – being discussed have significant strengths, they all also have major risks and major unknowns. Such is the problem when you’re trying to find a franchise quarterback. If it were easy, every team would have one.

RAS from Jacksonville

What are the chances of getting Marcedes Lewis back since he is a blocking tight end free agent and wants to retire a jaguar. Needed for runners and receivers!

Slim.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

How would General Manager David Caldwell and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin answer questions about Blake Bortles’ contract extension without “admitting to egregious mistakes?” And who do you like better for the Jags now, Nick Foles or Ryan Tannehill? Is Tannehill going to cost less?

Caldwell and Coughlin likely will/would simply say something to the effect that at the time of the Bortles’ contract extension they were signing a quarterback who had just had a very good second half of season/playoffs to a very reasonable contract for a starting quarterback. I think Foles is the best available quarterback in free agency, but I question whether any free-agent quarterback this offseason is elite. Yes, Tannehill will cost less than Foles.

Limo Bob from Neptune Beach, FL

Horrible offensive line, no tight ends, injured running backs, bad wide receivers and the quarterback is to blame for losing confidence while getting his ass kicked?

It’s fair to acknowledge that a lot of things struggled around Bortles this past season. But it’s just fair to remember that Bortles’ struggles contributed to the Jaguars’ struggles last season, too.

Roger9965 from Greenbush, MA

You say it’s just time to move on from BB5. But what’s the harm keeping him as that bridge? Draft a quarterback at No. 7, sit him a year to learn. BB5 played well with a healthy offense. Who’s to say he can’t again. They add some quality offensive help, off to the playoffs we go ... #DTWD.

There are many on-paper, logical reasons for the Jaguars to keep quarterback Blake Bortles if they are drafting a quarterback at No. 7 overall. I would have no problem if the Jaguars did that – in a vacuum. In the real world, Bortles has defined this organization in a lot of ways for better and worse in recent seasons. The Jaguars evidently don’t believe he’s the quarterback of the future. They evidently don’t believe he can lift players around him. They evidently believe that while he did a lot of things well in 2017 that the 2019 offseason is the time to shift to a new direction offensively. They evidently believe it’s time to move on. And barring something weird, that’s they will do.

Jags Fan from Section 818

Howdy, Zone. There has been and will continue to be talk about the Jags going after Foles. I know my input doesn't amount to a hill of beans, but this is what I've been thinking: Our offensive line needs help! We all know this. Instead of dead cap money that Bortles will get, why not retain Bortles, draft a quarterback and go heavy on offense? It seems to me that most of our offense is coming back. I don't believe Foles is our answer and we could use that money for position players. We need players, not just one player. Call me crazy, but I think we should keep Bortles one more year. Go Jags!

You’re not crazy, but sometimes it’s time to move on.

Andy from Roswell, GA

I agree that "sometimes it's just time to move on.” Will it be March or June when this happens? I thought I read that after June 1 the salary cap savings would be more beneficial. Not sure how much or if it's enough to warrant having Bortles "sit around" for three months, but I'm really not sure.

My guess is the time for the Jaguars to move on from Bortles will be sometime around the start of the new league year – March 13. While releasing Bortles after June 1 indeed matters in terms of the how they can allocate his dead money on the salary cap, teams may also designate a limited number of players as “June 1 releases” and actually release them before June 1. The idea behind such a move is to give the team the cap benefit and allow the player quicker access to free agency so the player can find another team.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

I feel like safety Tashaun Gipson and linebacker Telvin Smith are still very key players in this defense. They have been loosely talked about on this site as of late as if they are expendable or easily replaceable. I know we have Ronnie Harrison, who has been great, to take over for Barry Church, but we have no one significant to take the reins from Gipson or Smith. I assume the recent safety signing (Jarrod Wilson) was for a backup special teams role, because that would be a huge drop off over Gipson and you don't just find people like Smith in the fifth round every year. What gives? Are we so obsessed with improving on O that we forgot what made us a good team? Keep this elite defense intact, just get healthy on offense and get a serviceable quarterback and we are a playoff team just like last year. Please don't blow up the defense; that would be so stupid. Offense is cool and all, but did anyone watch the Super Bowl? What won the championship? What started to matter more once the playoffs started?

Gipson and Smith have been discussed on this site as players who could be released this offseason. That doesn’t imply a casual approach to their importance as much as it indicates that there are decisions this team must make in terms of the salary cap. Defense matters very much. This organization knows that. But the current defense was built with the idea that some key players form 2017-2018 wouldn’t be here after that. That doesn’t guarantee that the duo won’t return next season, but is it possible? Sure.

Emiel from Texas

Do you think New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is a future HOFer?

Goodness gracious, no. Edelman should go down in Patriots history as an all-time franchise great. He should be in their rings of honor and halls of fame – and he should live in their annals. But he has 30 career regular-season touchdown receptions and two 1,000-yard seasons in an era when rules are skewed to favor wide receivers having huge yardage. Edelman had a wonderful Super Bowl and is a great postseason performer. He was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player for a great performance Sunday. Can’t that be enough?

Logan from Wichita, KS

We are in so much cap hell we will probably now end up losing Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson, Abry Jones and having to trade away Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey and Telvin Smith … how did our front office screw up so bad?!?!?! Ohhh that's right: They thought they knew everything and paid someone they shouldn't have, then doubled down on only running the ball at all costs. So, we have huge financial problems, massive talent problems on offense and the window for a championship – hell, the window for a winning season in the next 10 years – is SHUT! Let's cut all the good players we have, trade up for a rookie quarterback and trade for a veteran quarterback and finish 0-16. GREAT PLAN!!!!

What? What?

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