O-Zone: Wise guy

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL

I think I’m misunderstanding something about Telvin Smith’s situation. Can he return at any time, including next season, and the Jaguars must honor his current contract?! That seems crazy. Telvin can return after voluntarily choosing to sit out a year, return at who knows what level of ability and condition, and the Jaguars have to pay him as if he had been here all along?!? That seems really unfair to the organization. Surely, I’ve misunderstood something.

You’re understanding well, actually. Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith has filed retirement papers with the NFL, but he can theoretically apply for reinstatement at any time and the league almost certainly would grant that reinstatement. In that scenario, the Jaguars would either have to pay Smith or release him. That theoretically remains true moving forward after this season because Smith’s contract will roll forward until the team relinquishes his rights. I expect the Jaguars will have to make a decision on this at some point, with the action very possibly being Smith’s release. I don’t know when that might happen, but it’s not realistic to think this sort of uncertainty can go on indefinitely.

David from Oviedo, FL

O-Zone: If someone makes a thoughtful decision that doesn’t pan out, does that make them incompetent and an embarrassment?

It depends on who’s making the judgement.

Chris from Nashville, TN

Cute write up, but given the usage of Fournette thus far, I'll believe he plays a key role in the passing game when I see it. Only one way to go from the bottom. Just curious, what did he rank among running backs in receptions/receiving yards the past few years? My Google is broken.

While your assessment of jaguars.com’s coverage is as invaluable as it is welcome, there was nothing cute about the story written on running back Leonard Fournette Wednesday. It was simply a story quoting offensive coordinator John DeFilippo saying that Fournette and the running backs likely will have a key role in the passing game. And Fournette hasn’t remotely been at the bottom of the league’s running backs in the passing game. He has been quite good in that role – far better than was expected when he entered the NFL – and there’s little reason to believe he won’t be effective as a receiver this season.

Shaun from Lake City, FL

I'm not guessing when I say this. Me and many, many, many other Jaguars fans believe Fred Taylor should be No. 1 on the All-25 list. Who else would be above Fred? It better not be Boselli. He had half the career here compared to Taylor. At least Mark was in the Top 5.

It’s very nice that many fans believe Taylor should have been No. 1 on the All-25 list – and though I won’t officially name the No. 1 player and ruin the suspense, I don’t agree that Taylor should be No. 1. I voted former left tackle Tony Boselli No. 1 and Taylor No. 2. This in no way was a knock on Taylor. There is nothing wrong with being No. 2 on this list. Or No. 3. Boselli, Taylor and wide receiver Jimmy Smith were all franchise-defining players. They were all key to the best era in the history of the franchise, and I don’t know that that era plays out the same if any of them play elsewhere. Someone had to be No. 1. In this case, I didn’t question myself much on the vote.

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

I know you call it as you see it: Do you see a new Fournette?

When looking at Fournette, I see a player doing and saying the right things right now. He looks focused. He looks in shape. He looks ready for a good year. He looked the same way last season, which I wrote and said often. The bottom line on Fournette right now is you would far rather have him doing what he is doing – i.e., looking the part and behaving/playing in encouraging fashion – than the alternative. But we won’t be able to judge Fournette’s season until September or October – after he and the Jaguars have played a few games and started dealing with the adversity that an NFL season routinely brings. That will be the true test.

Sam from Winter Park, FL

The Saints sure didn't wait long to pay wide receiver Michael Thomas – and due to Drew Brees' contract, they have an unfavorable cap situation as well. Doesn't make our front office look any better when deals for great players are getting done all around the league while we further alienate the few stars we've had over the last decade.

One thing to remember is that Thomas was first-team All-Pro last season, which means an argument can be made that he is among the two or three best players at his position. That makes giving him a market-setting deal make sense. Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is very good, but he hasn’t been first-team All-Pro and few NFL observers would put him among the Top 3 at his position. That doesn’t make Ngakoue a bad player, but it explains why the Jaguars and Ngakoue still haven’t agreed to a deal. Look: Nothing written here will change the minds of people convinced the Jaguars are botching the negotiations with Ngakoue; if that’s someone’s belief, they’re dug in enough that an O-Zone answer won’t sway them. Still, I don’t get the idea the Jaguars’ front office is overly concerned about how they “look.” If they were, they could have pushed their offer to Ngakoue up a few million per season and likely got a contract done already. This is about the Jaguars’ believing that what they have offered Ngakoue is fair considering the circumstances. I doubt they up their offer significantly considering those circumstances. We’ll see.

Scott from New York, NY

Do you think we carry a true fullback this year?

Doubtful.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

While understanding that Nick Foles is our quarterback, I’m anxious to see what rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II does in the preseason. Most agree that Minshew is undersized and doesn’t have the strongest arm. His college success was apparently more due to his intelligence, field awareness and ability to learn every facet of the game. Could that translate to success in the NFL? Can you think of any highly successful NFL quarterbacks who are undersized with a less-than-rocket arm but highly intelligent? (Hint… look in the Mardi Gras city….)

Sure, there are examples of undersized NFL quarterbacks with less-than-rocket-arms succeeding, and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees indeed is a primary example. Remember, though: Brees was an early-second round draft selection, so he was significantly more well-regarded – and more of a prototype – entering the NFL than Minshew. I hope Minshew makes it. I like a lot of the things I have seen from him early in training camp in terms of field vision, savvy, decision-making, etc. I also have seen some cases where the lack of arm strength is an issue. If you’re a Jaguars follower, what you hope right now is that Minshew is good enough to handle the backup role – and smart and savvy enough to get a team through a few games if starting quarterback Nick Foles is injured. It’s asking a lot to believe he will develop into more than that, because sixth-round quarterbacks rarely do. If he does show himself capable of being a backup, there’s plenty of time for comparing him to Brees as we move forward.

Don from Marshall, NC

How many players are there that would play the game for the glory if they were not getting paid? If you can get enough of those guys on one team, you have a chance.

Not many. True.

Braddock from Jacksonville

It seems to me that $19 million a year is a pretty fair offer for Yannick. I also get it that a lot of agents and players want to see that $100 mil (that they will never receive) in the headlines. In your opinion, what's it gonna take?

My interpretation right now is that whatever the Jaguars have offered Ngakoue is pretty much what they’re going to offer before this season. That’s my interpretation because the Jaguars believe the offer they have made is fair – and because they have the leverage of knowing that Ngakoue must report by 30 days before the start of the regular season or not have a chance to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2019 season. Considering those two elements, I don’t think the Jaguars will offer significantly more than they already have offered.

Jess from Layton

I was surprised to read in your answer “A wise man once said, ‘fans gonna fan; it’s what they do,’ ” because I always attributed that quote to you. I thought you came up with it. Shame on me for overestimating you. Who originally said it?

A wise, wise, wise man.

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