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O-Zone: Wayback machine

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

DenMiz from Duuuuuuuvaaaallll

Well, the Jags were a little active in free agency Wednesday which, to me, was a bit of a surprise. Obviously General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Doug Pederson see value in Johnson, Dogbe and Mondeaux. What are your thoughts and do you see any of them playing a major role in going forward?

You're referencing the three players who reportedly agreed to terms with the Jaguars as unrestricted free agents Wednesday: running back De'Ernest Johnson, defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux and running back Michael Dogbe. Johnson played the past four seasons with the Cleveland Browns, rushing for 738 yards and three touchdowns – and averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Dogbe played the past four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, playing 40 games with five starts and registering two sacks with 61 tackles, including four for loss. Mondeaux played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020-2021 and with the New York Giants last season, playing in 37 games with six starts and registering two sacks with 37 tackles – including four for loss. All three signings make sense for the Jaguars considering their cap situation. They're second-wave free agents, joining the team essentially a week into free agency. They're cost-effective players with extensive NFL experience and four seasons of proven performance. I wouldn't project any to start barring injury. I expect all could play contributing roles if needed – perhaps particularly Johnson, who has flashed at times with Cleveland.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone, I know you can't post anything on the site regarding Wednesday's moves until the league approves them, but I would encourage Jag fans to find the D'Ernest Johnson Browns vs Broncos highlights in the meantime!

One fer Johnson versus the Broncos.

Jaypee from The Vortex

Our offense is clearly capable. In my opinion it's the defense that needs a significant jump this year. A lot of talk about last year's rookies taking that next step. What about Josh Allen? How do you think he played overall last season? Do you expect a better season this year? Is his contract up this season? Do we try to keep him?

Assessing Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen and his future is difficult. I thought he played well at times in 2022 and was a reason the defense improved late in the season. I considered him overall a good player – probably the Jaguars' best defensive player at times – and thought he was the player the defense could least afford to lose. He also wasn't a dominant pass-rushing force on a consistent basis. I don't know that I expect him to improve dramatically in his fifth season, but I expect him to remain important – if perhaps not spectacular. This is the final season of his contract. I suspect he will need a huge season as a pass-rusher for the Jaguars to re-sign him following that season because I expect he and his representation will seek elite money and I don't know if the Jaguars will be ready to commit that money without a huge pass-rushing season.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

Since former Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. hasn't signed to a roster yet and is an unrestricted free agent, does that mean he isn't getting what money he wants? Could the Jags snag him in a desperation offer and get him to take another prove-it deal? My concern is we have a good stable of offensive weapons, but injuries have not bitten the Jags bad ... yet. Seems it would be good to stock the pantry as it were, or is this going to be a draft thing where we get a wide receiver in the second round? Maybe we can see if Justin Blackmon is ready to be reinstated? Kidding O, Kidding.

The Jaguars played last season with Marvin Jones Jr., Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Jamal Agnew and Tim Jones as their top five receivers. It wouldn't be a major surprise if they entered the 2023 season with Calvin Ridley, Kirk, Zay Jones, Jamal Agnew and Tim Jones as their top five receivers.

Ryan from Fremont, OH

How do compensatory picks work? Obviously teams sign and release players throughout the season, so how is signing a player in the preseason not counted against teams who lost a player to another team?

Compensatory draft selections are awarded based on teams' gains and losses of unrestricted free agents the previous offseason. This means players who play out their contracts with teams and become free agents at the start of the league year. It does not include players who become free agents by being released nor does it include waived players.

Brad from The Avenues

I get it, John. For some years now I've longed for the respect of the league and networks for all the prime-time games. I recently turned 65 and though I see my desires forming on the horizon, I find myself dreading having to try and stay up past 9 p.m. more than once a year. What happened, John? I was supposed to stay 25 forever.

Welcome to life, Brad.

Jim from Neptune Beach, FL

Let's make the assumption that Jordan Smith completes his rehab, and is at least the player he was thought to be when he was drafted. Where does would he fit in the present scheme of things?

As a backup outside linebacker – and depending on his performance, potentially an important part of the team's nickel/pass-rushing packages.

John from The Land of Indian River

Ozone, it seems our Jaguars are entering a pivotal year: in the second year under Pederson, last year's draft class should take a significant jump. I believe they will draft offensive line and cornerback early to keep that salary cap rotation moving. After last year's success trust the process. Winning is fun.

The 2023 season indeed will be important. Pederson talked often last season about the potential for a second-year jump in '23 for the offense and for quarterback Trevor Lawrence – and by extension, that could mean a significant jump for the entire team. Remember: The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl following the 2017 season, which was Pederson's second season as the head coach there. That doesn't mean the Jaguars automatically will win the Super Bowl next season. They will be playing a first-place schedule, which – considering the quarterbacks on such first-place AFC teams as the Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes), Buffalo Bills (Josh Allen) and Cincinnati Bengals (Joe Burrow) – likely will mean a few more difficult matchups than last season. But yes … not only is it fair to expect a jump offensively in the second season in Pederson's system, it's fair to expect second-year defensive players such as linebackers Devin Lloyd and Travon Walker to improve significantly and be more disruptive/consistent than they were as rookies. As for the 2023 NFL Draft, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Jaguars go cornerback and offensive line in the first two days. They can get by with the front-line players they have at those positions, but some quality – and early-drafted – depth there would look awfully good.

Richard from St Augie

For the woe-is-me crowd: Don't forget the player who were on injured reserve during the run at end of the season: Left guard Ben Bartch, left tackle Cam Robinson and outside linebacker Jordan Smith. They should be back at some point all contributing and under contract. Plus: We should expect at least two starters from the draft – maybe more. Also: we should be relevant for the playoffs in December. All better than prior to 22! Go Jags.

Your points aren't wrong. Still, most NFL teams – even successful ones – have players on injured reserve by the end of the season and the Jaguars were actually remarkably healthy last season except on the left side of the offensive line. It's a league of attrition and it wouldn't be surprising at all if the team was dealing with at least that many injuries at the end of the 2023 season. A major challenge moving forward is to continue to address depth and strengthen the roster accordingly. The Jaguars from this view were fortunate in that sense in 2022: They sustained two key season-ending injuries – Bartch and Robinson – to an offensive line that was perhaps the roster's deepest position group. Could they have replaced as well at other positions? Perhaps not. Ensuring they're deeper everywhere is a big task for this front office. But that's true of most NFL teams.

Don from Marshall, NC

I cannot blame former Jaguars outside linebacker Arden Key for being a little ticked off. He went from a up and coming team who will most likely make the playoffs (Jaguars) to a team that has no chance (Tennessee Titans).

Being nice has been a recent theme in the O-Zone. I still fear we're not getting through. To reiterate, it's important to be nice. This was not nice …

Jax by Lionel Playworld

Arden Key felt "disrespected?" what is this, the 90s? Mr. Key, you have been canceled, sir.

… nor, obviously, is this.