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O-Zone: Wishful thinking

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Johnny from Syracuse, NY

John, I've been reading about Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue holding out and cornerback Jalen Ramsey wanting to break the bank. Who is next? You hear about NFL greats that understand the business aspect of football taking a minor pay cut or settling for less so the team may prosper; what happened to that? I don't understand; in my world and many others $1 million is a crap-ton of money to make in one year – let alone tens of millions. What gives? Is it necessary to make that much? Can't we just enjoy the game without the price tags going up? I'm kind of over all of the greed and holdouts; the most entertainment I get is reading this article ...

The reason you hear about NFL greats taking minor pay cuts and settling for less is simple: It's rare, so it's notable when it happens – and therefore it makes news. And while $1 million in one year indeed is a lot of money to play a game, remember: These are people with a unique skill for which people will pay – and that means their salaries skyrocket because they're based on low supply and very high demand. It's not realistic to think that most players are going to take significantly less money "so that the team may prosper." That's particularly true of young players who are coming off a comparatively modest rookie contract and who have yet to secure the financial stability of a second NFL contract. What you refer to as greed is these players trying to maximize their earning potential in a very short, high-risk career. Players have a small window to make mega-millions. When that window closes, it closes forever. Most players understandably do whatever they can to earn as much as they can while they can; most people in the same situation would do the same. As far as enjoying the game without the price tags going up … no, that's not going to happen. This is a business that deals in millions and billions of dollars. That's not going to change any time soon.

Emile from Tallahassee, FL

How about "Gimme Shelter?" Kinda fits our team's rough-and-tumble personality and would get me pretty pumped.


Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

At this point I just wish the entire Telvin Smith issue would get resolved because it really does impact the status of other current issues. Telvin sits out, you free up $12 million, you pay 91 and get that done. Plus, you probably now have the cap room to start looking into to paying Ramsey NOW while we can afford him.

Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith's situation is unusual enough that it's tricky to identify potential specific timelines – and to know the precise ramifications of him sitting out the season. But because Smith's future with the team is unknown – and because his contract could simply push out into future years – it's not as simple as simply getting Smith's cap space back if he opts to sit out the season. If Smith opts to retire, the Jaguars indeed would recoup the cap space. Either way, the Ngakoue situation isn't as simple as clearing cap space and "Paying the Man!" The decision of how much to pay must make sense in the immediate and long-term – and those issues will remain even if the Jaguars had Smith's cap space.

Brian from Greenwood, IN

What point is the point of no return for Smith in terms of the upcoming season? In other words, hypothetically if the Jags start the season 4-0, can he suddenly decide he wants to be a part of the team, show up on Monday of Week 5 and start collecting a paycheck?

There are still elements of the Smith story yet to play out because of the unprecedented nature of his absence. If Smith doesn't officially file retirement paperwork with the NFL, the Jaguars would have the option of designating him as reserve/did not report. They could fine him $30,000 for each day of training camp missed, and they also could fine him one-seventeenth of his base salary for each preseason game missed. Smith theoretically in that scenario could attempt to return at any time provided the team hasn't released him, which seems unlikely. The bottom line: The mechanics of this have gray areas simply because there's not much NFL precedent for a player opting to take a year off and not communicating to the team his specific long-term intentions.

Chris from Nashville, TN

Do you just kinda coast through your day after publishing your single story of the day and responding to questions in the O-Zone?

Yes, because all stories – particularly the O-Zone – appear on the site from nowhere as if by magic.

Joseph from Hall of Fame City

Yo, Mr. O: I lived in Jacksonville when our beloved Jaguars became a reality. Sweet Home Alabama is and always will be a Duuuuuval thing ... cause, you know, the song been around longer than the team. Besides, I knew them boys up on Cahoon Road ... Stevie was the man.


Rob from Orange Park, FL

I actually love hearing Sweet Home Alabama at the games. The first Jags game I attended I remember the crowed responding with a roar when the song started playing. It's always a fan favorite. Turn it up!

A lot of people think Sweet Home is fun. is cool. Fans like it.

KC from SOFla

I've had just about enough with all this holdout and contract talk. Let's talk about the guys who showed up. Who looked good during minicamp? Who has the look of a breakout player early on? Also, are there any players who fans have high expectations for that maybe we should pump the brakes a bit?

Any list of players who looked good in an NFL offseason program is going to be incomplete. That's because there's no way to know if positions such as offensive line, defensive line and even running back looked good or bad; the non-padded, non-contact nature of the work makes such analysis comparatively meaningless. The biggest takeaways from the Jaguars' organized team activities and minicamp was that new quarterback Nick Foles appears to be an upgrade, and that he was developing good rapport with receivers such as Keelan Cole, DJ Chark Jr. and Chris Conley. Tight ends Josh Oliver and Geoff Swaim also appeared to have good on-field work. Much more in this vein will become clearer in training camp and preseason when practices involve pads and contact.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

There seems to be some disagreement on whether the pass rushers make the corners better or the corners make the pass rushers better. At times the corners buy a little more time for the pass rushers to get to the quarterback and at times the pass rushers get to the quarterback fast enough that the quarterback makes a bad decision, a bad throw, or throws before the receiver could get open. Having great pass rushers and great corners has a compounding effect. It's increasing returns to scale, the yield or output is greater than the sum of the inputs. It's a great idea to prioritize having very good players at these positions as the performance of each affects the other.

I'm not smart enough to know about compounding, returns to scale, yields or sums of inputs; I suppose I were, I would be doing something making a lot more money. I may be smart enough to know that pass rusher usually is more important than cornerback, because a pass rusher can affect every pass play whereas an offense can throw away from a cornerback and minimize his effect on a play.

Jason from St. Augustine, FL

A recent question about using BB5 as a running back got me thinking: The only problems he had were related to arm strength and reading defenses. Blake Bortles is a big, tough, fast guy that runs well. He never missed a game for injury in five years! What about him in a wildcat, tight end, catching a pass out of the backfield, etc., for some team?


Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

For as long as I can remember (and my memory dates to Eisenhower), there are only two pro team "fight" songs that stick in my brain. "When the Saints Go Marching In" is obvious if not original. "Hail to the Redskins" is instantly recognizable to any NFL fan. While not ranking in importance compared to roster moves, training camp or contract issues, it sure would be nice if the Jaguars had a catchy, original song. (There was an attempt a few years ago – it was awful.) I think you'd be perfect to spearhead the search.

Nah. I'm good.

Jeremy from Jacksonville

Maybe the people complaining about "Sweet Home Alabama" would feel better if they replaced it with Limp Bizkit tracks. Be careful what you wish for.

Be nice.