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O-Zone: Wide, wide margin

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bo from Winter Springs, FL

The Jags' biggest bust pick of all time? Justin Blackmon. He was gonna be so good too. What a shame.

While there unfortunately are many possibilities, wide receiver Justin Blackmon indeed is as good a choice as any for the biggest draft "bust" in Jaguars history. The No. 5 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2012 NFL Draft, Blackmon caught 83 passes for 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in 20 games in 2012-2013. He was suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy midway through the 2013 season and never played in the NFL again. Blackmon certainly qualifies as the biggest unfulfilled talent in franchise history. He indeed had a chance to be an elite wide receiver. Had he stayed healthy and maximized his talent, he might have had a Hall of Fame career.

Mike from New Milford, NJ

I'm far from a cap expert, but can I try. When thinking about the future and looking ahead at the 2024 salary cap, there are three players of interest in terms of cap savings versus dead money. They are left tackle Cam Robinson, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and cornerback Darious Williams. These are not necessarily players you want to part ways with, but their remaining figures stand out as potential cap casualties. Depending on how the wideouts perform, wide receiver Christian Kirk could join that list as a post-June 1 release. There's flexibility with linebacker Foyesade Oluokun post-June 1 if the young linebackers can ascend, which the 2023 Jaguars need. Right guard Brandon Scherff might be someone to add voidable years and create space but also has very similar numbers as Kirk post-June 1. As long as quarterback Trevor Lawrence's stock continues to rise, I don't see a salary cap mess anytime soon. Is my perception close or no cigar?

Your perception is correct on and speaks to something many fans and observers sometimes misunderstand. That's that many – most, really – NFL unrestricted free agent contracts are written to be far shorter than the contract "length" indicates. They are written this way intentionally, with "outs" two or three years into the deal allowing the team to release the player to maneuver the salary cap. It also allows the team to keep the player if the player merits it. The nature of the system causes many observers to bemoan the lack of "guaranteed" contracts in the NFL. I never quite grasped this because players get guaranteed money up front in the way of signing bonuses and guaranteed years in the contract. It's not evilness of NFL owners that makes this system necessary as much as it is the short-term nature of NFL careers compared to other major sports. The system also causes fans and observers to criticize general managers for mismanaging the cap when players are released when in fact having contracts designed to be able to release players is very much managing the cap. Either way, you're correct that there shouldn't be a salary-cap "mess" for the Jaguars any time soon – if ever. They likely will part ways with some of the players you cite in the coming offseasons before those players' contracts reach the point where it makes sense. But that's not a mess. It's simply the way you do business in free agency in this era of the NFL.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

I miss football season.

Winning was cool. Jaguars fans liked it.

_Mario from West Kelowna, BC _

Zone. All these people wanting Head Coach Doug Pederson in the Pride of the Jaguars (after one season) for what the Jags did last season … a season that was compared so many times to the 1996 season ... who was coach in 1996? Plus two AFC Championship Games? Exactly! I hate to say this but maybe we need to go back to talking about Arden Key.

I sense we're probably reaching the end of this discussion. Former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin so merits induction into the Pride of the Jaguars that the question isn't "if" he will be so honored but "when." I think Pederson will lead the Jaguars to a lot of success in the coming seasons, but he still has a lot of winning to do to match Coughlin. I don't know when Coughlin will get into the Pride. I'm hoping it's soon.

Justin from Hoboken, NJ

With quarterback contracts soaring, and looking at the details behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes' contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, when do you think he will get new money added to his deal?

I haven't the foggiest idea.

Brendan from Yulee, FL

Tom Coughlin was a part of the Jacksonville community outside of football with the Jay Fund, etc. I remember seeing him outside of the airport one day, and chatted with him briefly before picking my mom up. Nice guy, very tall in person. Why do people give him so much flack?

Coughlin is and I suspect always will be a part of Jacksonville outside football. He is of high integrity and character. He coached the Jaguars to the highest highs they have yet to experience and also made some critical errors that led to some difficult times for the franchise. The errors, difficult times and him not always being "a nice guy" lead to the flack.

Mike from Omaha, NE

John, what is the one absolute most important position we improve on via the draft? Thank you.

In the short term? Cornerback.

WJB3 from Yulee, FL

If Florida offensive lineman O'Cyrus Torrence be available at 24, do you think the Jags would select him?

I think the Jaguars would be very tempted by an offensive lineman in that spot who can play guard immediately, eventually move to tackle and be a swing tackle as a rookie. My understanding is Torrence can do that, so yeah … I think there would be a good chance.

Doug from Jacksonville since the good ol' days

Head Coach Doug Marrone and quarterback Blake Bortles just got one AFC Championship game versus two for quarterback Mark Brunell and Coughlin, so I guess they only get their first names in the Pride. If Pederson and quarterback Trevor Lawrence get three AFC Championship Games, maybe they'll get first middle and last names.

OK. I think.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

You gave Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Matt Stafford of the Detroit Lions as examples of teams with expensive quarterbacks that won the Super Bowl. But they don't seem very relevant when discussing Trevor and his upcoming extension. Brady had a $25 million dollar cap hit and Stafford's was only $20 million in the years they won those Super Bowls. Trevor will be at least doubling Stafford, potentially even doubling Brady's $25 million. To use those two as examples that you can win a Super Bowl with a highly-paid quarterback is disingenuous. They were on cheap contracts compared to other QBs, which allowed their teams to build around them. They are examples of teams winning with cheap quarterbacks, not expensive ones.

Brady and Stafford had the highest cap hits on their team when they won the Super Bowl. That's why I mention them in the discussion. I also mentioned Mahomes.

Steve from Nashville, TN

What is the significance of being designated a starter for a game? It is simply the players on the field for the first snap of the game, can you have two tight ends listed as starters if you start the game in a two tight-end set?

Not much, in reality. Yes. Yes.

Chris from London, UK

Zone, It is widely agreed that the jags needs are offensive line, cornerback and pass rush, but it is a pure guess where we go first round in the draft. Do you think Pederson stating we need to improve our pass rush leans towards pass rush Round 1?

I believe the Jaguars' Round 1 selection likely will be offensive line, cornerback or tight end – and maybe pass rush. Pederson's comments at last week's 2023 NFL Annual Meeting that the Jaguars need to improve pass rush don't change my thoughts. I think the Jaguars' best chance to improve their pass rush in 2022 is to improve from within as opposed to relying on a pass rusher selected late in Round 1.

Troy from Dover, PA

Would you hire Tom Coughlin if he wanted to return to coaching or as a general manager?

Coughlin is 76. Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots at 70 are the NFL's oldest actives head coaches. Would I hire Coughlin at 48 (his age when the Jaguars began play in 1995) or 57 (his age when he became head coach of the New York Giants)? Absolutely. I would hesitate to hire him as general manager.

David from The Island

Is figuring out how to pay a franchise quarterback really a problem? It certainly beats the alternative.

By a wide margin.