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O-Zone: Worth the wait

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Leon from Austin, TX

Zone: Seems like a lot of disarray is happening to a bulk of NFL teams with cutting and shopping "valued" veterans, but seems Jags are moving in upward direction. Also: With the Commissioner's announcement regarding Calvin Ridley, the Jaguars are going to be a big problem!

I don't know that that many NFL teams are in disarray this offseason compared to years past. Teams release and trade well-known players for salary-cap reasons every year. Still, these indeed are heady, fun times for Jaguars fans – and understandably so. They are a young team fresh off their first AFC South title in five seasons – and because of that youth, they aren't spending this offseason parting ways with aging veterans or making deep roster cuts because of the salary cap. These things tend to be somewhat cyclical – and the Jaguars at long last have cycled into an offseason of comparative calmness and optimism. Within reason, this is how it's how supposed to be when you're a young and promising team that hasn't pushed much salary-cap money into the future in recent offseasons. The Jaguars feel like an upwardly mobile team right now. And with wide receiver Calvin Ridley added to an already promising offense, hopes should be high for this team. That guarantees nothing, and regular seasons don't always look how offseasons indicate they might, but yeah … this feels like the start of something good.

Richard from Jacksonville

Our reported "effective cap space" is $13 million. Isn't that just enough for Ridley and the draft class? If so, how would we even pay Taylor?

By being creative with the salary cap. While tight end Evan Engram would be an $11 million salary cap hit for 2022 if he plays under the franchise tag, his cap hit for 2022 would be far less if he signs a long-term deal. Right tackle Jawaan Taylor's 2023 cap hit also could be comparatively small in 2023 if he signs a long-term deal. The cap hits for those players would be larger in later seasons in those scenarios. They also could restructure other players' contracts to create room this season with larger hits later.

Paul from Jacksonville

If somebody gets in your face and calls you a name, I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won't walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can't walk him, one of the others will help you, and you'll both be nice. Be nice, until it's time to not be nice.

I'm not sure if this is nice or not.

Dan from Munich, Germany

Zone this players scorecards grading the teams facilities is just proof that there are a lot of overpaid little girls playing this game. I noticed that even teams with a brand-new stadium received poor grades.

I know this is not nice.

Paul from Saint Johns, FL

Clearly, I am no offensive line expert – because I don't see what made Taylor's overall body of work so impressive. He seemed solid last year for sure, perhaps the best lineman according to some commentary on However, wasn't he the most penalized lineman in the NFL the two previous years? Or close to it? Does that not matter, as long as his "contract year" is a success?

Many factors matter when assessing players, but remember: You don't sign a player to a long-term second contract based solely on his overall body of work. And the wise teams don't "reward" players with contracts. You factor in overall quality of play over his career with how you expect the player to play throughout the rest of his contract. The Jaguars believe Taylor is an ascending player, and that he will continue to ascend under offensive line coach Phil Rauscher and Head Coach Doug Pederson. They don't read much into the whole "contract year thing" as a reason he played better in 2022. That doesn't mean they will be able to re-sign Taylor. But perhaps it explains why they want to do so.

Jason from North Pole, AK

Hey, remember when Jaguars fans were upset about letting wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. leave in free agency?


Jason from Suffolk, VA

How was Derek Carr able to sign with the Saints prior to March 15?

Quarterback Derek Carr was released by the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this offseason, and therefore immediately became a free agent – and eligible to sign with any team. A player such as Taylor is under contract. His contract is scheduled to run out at the end of the 2022 League Year. That's March 15, when he and other players in similar situations would become unrestricted free agents.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: Can you explain the difference of an outright release and a designated post June 1 release? What are the advantages, and disadvantages of each to the team and player.

When a team releases a player outright, the cap ramifications of that player roll into the current year. For example, say a team signs a player to a five-year contract with $10 million in bonuses. If that team releases a player outright in the first year of his contract, all $10 million in bonuses count against the cap in that first season. If the team designates the player as a post-June 1 release, the team can take a $2 million cap hit in the first season and take the remaining $8 million hit the following season. The team still must account for the "dead" cap money, but the June 1 designation allows the team some flexibility.

Kathy from Ponte Vedra, FL

Should we assume that both outside linebacker Arden Key and Taylor are likely to leave since we have not signed them to a contract as of March 7?

Not necessarily. The Jaguars would like to have both players back. A week remains before the March 15 start of the 2023 NFL League Year. A week is forever in these negotiations. A day or two can really be forever in these negotiations.

CD from Fleming Island, FL

Hey, John. Is there anything in the rules to prevent a team from signing someone to an excessively long contract to minimize the impact of dead money? For an extreme example, you sign Taylor to a 15-year deal with a big signing bonus; even if it's 15 years, the dead money would be so low as to be not an issue; and you could expect the salary cap to go up as well, further devaluing the financial impact. I imagine there'd be some annoyances with this in the final years of the contract, but just curious to know if this is a viable strategy.

You can do this in theory. But the effectiveness of your strategy would depend on how long the player plays. If he plays out the contract, the year-to-year cap impact might be relatively manageable. If he played just three seasons, then the cap impact of the final 12 seasons would roll up into the year in which the player retired or was released. In that case, the impact could be extreme.

Daniel from Johnston, IA

Generic question, although I guess it could apply directly to Taylor or Engram right now. When negotiating with their team on a second or third contract, do they pretty much have to rely on their agent to tell them what they're worth on the free market? Can they get soundings from outside the team? I imagine it would be a little difficult to know if you're getting a good deal if there's only the one sitting in front of you?

Players typically rely on their agents for this information. This is why they have agents. Team officials and agents talk. Agents therefore may not know exactly what a player will draw on the open market, but they have a decent idea before free agency begins.

Nelson from St. Augustine, FL

I have to say goodbye to my Golden Retriever of 12 years tomorrow. He didn't give a damn about the Jaguars but he was a good dog and a kind soul. Can I get a "one fer" Bullet Boy?

Absolutely and without question. One fer Bullet Boy.

Fred from Jacksonville

Big O, I have to concur with Robert from Elton that perhaps cornerback Shaq Griffin shouldn't be taken to the curb so quickly. My understanding was that his 2022 play was substantially impacted by significant back issues and I certainly hope he recovers completely regardless of where he plays. But haven't you always emphasized that we need to be nice to cornerbacks with bad backs?

I hope Griffin recovers completely and plays effectively in the NFL again. I doubt he will get the opportunity to do so in Jacksonville with the Jaguars.

Fred from Naples, FL

I like the Mock Drafter on the Jaguars website; however, I find it amusing that Pete Prisco doesn't submit his until later in March. It's sort of similar to waiting out all the commercials on the Academy Awards until Chris Rock makes his appearance.

What's a "Pete Prisco?"