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O-Zone: Wherever, whenever

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Let's get to it …

DMiz from The 904, soon to include 324

KOAF, Was the salary cap increase decided by the owners, NFL Players Association or NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell? Is there some type of "formula" when determining such an increase? Also, if the current owners and general managers, players and agents didn't have prior knowledge about the increase with such short notice, how does that play out with the combine and the tag so close to the announcement? Seems like a major plus for players, but a substantial time constraint for everyone else.

The NFL last week announced that the salary cap in 2024 will increase $30.4 million to $255.2 million, an unprecedented increase over 2023's $224.8 million that was about double what many around the league were projecting. While the salary cap is based on a complicated formula, perhaps the simplest way to explain it is about 48 percent of league revenue goes to player salary. The cap's increase this season happened because of "the full repayment of all amounts advanced by the clubs and deferred by the players during the Covid pandemic as well as the extraordinary increase in media revenue for the 2024 season," according to the NFL. With the announcement coming so close to the March 5 franchise tag deadline and the March 13 start of the 2024 League Year, teams must readjust. I expect a few more players to receive the franchise tag because teams have more space to use it. I also expect a few high-profile players to benefit from more teams having more to spend. Is it a time constraint for general managers, who must quickly decide where to spend more? Perhaps. I trust they can deal with the stress. That's why they make the big money.

*Scott from Gilbert, AZ *

Zone, Are you saying that second-and third-round luxury selections who can only contribute in limited roles for two or three years are good selections? It doesn't get any more plug-and-play than blocking tight end and short-yardage back in the NFL, and based on what we saw in 2023, their respective ceilings would have to be considered decent-at-best role players for two years. I would argue that is wasting valuable Day 2 draft capital.

I'm saying the offseason following a rookie season is too early to judge whether a player is a good or bad draft selection. That's as true in the case of running back Tank Bigsby and tight end Brenton Strange as it is any other player. That's really all I'm saying.

Steve from Hilton Head, SC

John. You've said that all problems in the NFL are coaching. It seems like General Managing is right up there. However. It seems like the offensive line gets a lot of blame for the lack of a running game and some pass-protection failures. Please help me understand how the linemen are substandard. Are they too small? Do they get bull rushed, manhandled, pushed around? Are they too slow? Do they not fill gaps or edges fast enough? Are they not smart? Do they blow assignments and get penalties? All 32 teams want to get "more physical" every year and every All-Pro lineman was passed over by about 31 GMs.

I've said and written often that it's always coaching in the NFL to make the case that fans/observers blame coaching far too often for issues out of a coach's control – NOT to make the case that coaching never matters or isn't important. It's a subtle difference, but I'm a subtle guy. Assessing an offensive line as a whole is tricky because you're assessing a group with five individuals who must work as a cohesive unit. One player struggling on one play can make the entire group look bad. It's also the sport's only position that is judged more on mistakes than success. An offensive tackle who played great for 74 plays and allowed a sack/fumble on his one bad play had an awful game. A defensive lineman who played poorly for 74 plays and forced a sack fumble on his one good play had a great game. The Jaguars' offensive line as a whole from this view wasn't physical or powerful enough on the interior, which made it difficult to be consistent or effective enough against the run. That in turn put more pressure on the unit in pass protection because the group faced more obvious passing situations. The seemingly constant rotation throughout the season at left guard and left tackle also made it difficult to get cohesion, chemistry and continuity at a position where such things are critical. Those issues contributed to the unit's struggles.

Arthur from Glassboro

The only constant in being a Jags fan is the coaches and front office telling us the offensive line is better than they played. Every year we hear the same thing and every season they're a weak point of the team.


Chuck from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I'm hoping some of Doug and Trent's comments yesterday were "tongue in cheek," not wanting to show our hand to the competition. Do you think so?

You're referencing Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke speaking at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine this week. I wouldn't say Pederson and Baalke were lying. I wouldn't say their comments were "tongue in cheek." I would say there's little for general managers and head coaches to gain from revealing too much when speaking publicly, particularly as the start of the league year approach.

Mario from West Kelowna, BC

Zone. Do you think that if the Jags win at least six games in the first nine weeks of next season all these Baalke haters will change their mind about the general manager?

Fans fan. It's what they do.

Bradford from Orange Park, FL

As debated as the GM has become this offseason, I would imagine you might catch grief for indirectly slating Baalke, for future HOF enshrinement.

I did not do this. I did say many Hall of Fame general managers had teams that had multiple worse seasons than 9-8.


Just a follow up to "Chief from Biloxi, MS." Exactly who was that missing link and what would it have cost us to acquire him?

I haven't the foggiest.

Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL

For all the handwringing, frustration and emotion about the season that was 2023, I am curious about your thoughts on one specific detail of it. What do you "think" the Jags record would be if they simply were able to get one yard when they needed it? I think it is safe to say they would have won the division. Of course that is not truly one thing - it's offensive line play, quarterback play, running back play, play-calling, coaching, strength and conditioning … even player selection. BUT it mattered in 2023. A lot. I'd venture to say two wins. Thoughts?

I think if the Jaguars had been able to run more effectively when they needed to run in 2023, they would have been much better in the red zone and in short-yardage situations and I think they would have finished at least 11-6 and played in at least the second round of the postseason.

Scott from Daytona Beach, FL

Looks like the Culligan Girl isn't coming back, but I will bet the clown costumes do by the look at these questions.

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Eric from Jacksonville Beach

Just curious, maybe you can provide some insight. How does the timing of negotiations with people like outside linebacker Josh Allen and wide receiver Calvin Ridley work? I know Baalke and his team have a lot of other negotiations, so guessing they don't just lock themselves in a room with either agent all day until deals are done. Do they send an offer over and then just wait? Is there a customary response time? I'm hearing Allen's camp might want to wait to see what people like Brian Burns of the Carolina Panthers and Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings get. Do they just sit back until that's done? I know time is pressing, just curious how that works in the background.

It works how it works. What that means is negotiations such as this take the shape based on the actions of the sides involved. Baalke, for example, met face to face with Ridley recently. He planned to meet with Allen's representatives face to face at the combine this week, with plans to do the same with offensive guard Ezra Cleveland's representatives. Those meetings might take place in an Indianapolis eatery. Or at a small table in a hotel lobby or convention center hallway. There would/could then be telephone conversations, texts and emails. In a bygone era, faxes were involved. A locked-door, daylong meeting isn't necessary. Attentiveness, dialogue and willingness to find common ground are paramount.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I'd say you suck worse when you're in Indianapolis. I'm not sure that's true. Either way, you still suck.

One fer consistency.