Let's get to it . . .
Steve from Fernandina Beach, FL:
According to an article March 30 on NFL.com by Jason La Canfora, the Jaguars are more than $20 million under the salary cap. This is close to the highest in the NFL, and was published after Laurent Robinson signed for five years, $32.5 million, $14 million guaranteed. Maurice Jones-Drew, our one true offensive star, weapon, and reigning rushing champion, will make $9.4 million over the next two years? What is wrong with this picture?? Do the math and pay the man.
John: Yes! YESSS!! Pay everyone! Tear up all the contracts! Forget that players have multiple years on contracts remaining! It's all paper money! It's everywhere! It's in the halls! Under the carpet! Why, goodness . . . here's some in my desk!! Spend! Spend!! SPEND!!!!! On a serious, non-exclamation-point note, you don't pay in this league as a reward. You pay based on market value and projecting best as possible what you need to pay to manage the roster and the future. Jones-Drew is under contract for two years. There's no rush and no obligation to increase his salary or extend his contract. I'm all for players making as much as they can make. I'm all for Jones-Drew walking away from football with as much as he can. But a team has to make smart business decisions and renegotiating deals with multiple years remaining ain't necessarily that.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
I'm excited. Are you excited?
John: Huh? What?
Kyle from Jacksonville:
Can you update me on how Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox, and Taylor Price are doing as far as their healing process with their injuries?
John: Mathis is ahead of schedule returning from an ACL tear, and he may be able to begin practicing in June. Cox (knee) has been working pretty close to full-go in the off-season. Price is not expected to return from a stress fracture in his foot until training camp.
Joe from Port Charlotte, FL:
Don't believe everything Kuharsky writes. He is more of a blogger than journalist. He always hits the Titans soft but has no mercy against others in the AFC South. I don't read his stuff anymore, it makes me more calm and serene.
John: Kuharsky does a good job, and I disagree that's he's more blogger than journalist. He's a very good journalist with years of experience who does a nice job in the role that ESPN asks him to fill. I didn't agree with what he wrote about Tyson Alualu this week, and he doesn't agree with everything I write. That's OK, and it doesn't mean he does a bad job. No one hits all the time. Do with Kuharsky what you should do with everyone. Read, enjoy and move on.
Mark from St. Augustine, FL:
C'mon John, no fifth person? Whatever happened to Chris Prosinski or Rod Issac?
John: What this guy said.
Buddy from Jacksonville:
You were asked Wednesday about five rookies who could take the most dramatic steps this season. You mentioned Gabbert, Rackley, Shorts and Bradfield. No Issac or Prosinski?
John: I think the four I mentioned are in a position to make the biggest, most-significant jump. The other rookies on the roster could take significant jumps, too, but the four I mentioned are the ones who stand out the most.
David from Kingsland, GA:
I have a problem with contract re-negotiating. I realize NFL contracts are not guaranteed and players can be cut at any time, but I think it's unfair players want it both ways. They want the security of a multi-year deal, but when they play well they want the ability to ask for more money? While players "do" get released for poor play, I have yet to see a team re-negotiate a deal "down" when a player gets hurt or under performs.....have you?
John: Yes, I have seen a team negotiate a deal down, and I've also seen players get released when they don't perform. That's why I never criticize a player for holding out for more money when his contract is up. I also don't have a problem with the money players make and never have. It's a violent game and careers end at a moment's notice. Get as much as you can when you can. That said, there are circumstances when teams can't simply give a player whatever they want. Each case is individual, and that's why there's no hard, fast rule on these things.
Michael from Fruit Cove, FL:
You wrote Tuesday, "Either way, there's no question this is a critical season." I disagree. The organization has been building this team for a few years, and I don't see any situation where the team looks dramatically different one year from now than it does right now. There are still many young players on this team, and the current group would not be blown up after this season, even if everything goes wrong. Gene Smith and Mike Mularkey both have two or three years left on their contracts, I believe. There may soon come a time where there is a critical year for the team to show improvement in the record, but I don't think it is this year.
John: I don't know that it's make-or-break in the sense that everything gets blown up if there's no improvement. I would say it's critical that the team shows improvement. That doesn't have to mean a dramatic increase in victories, but there must be signs that the team is moving in the right direction. For the most part, I wouldn't say that was the case last season, but with a new coaching staff and with the roster on paper being pretty complete, you need to come away with a better feeling at the end of this season than you had early last January.
J Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
I think some people forget about D'Anthony - in a perfect scenario , where would he fit into the mix and what would we need to see to make the draft pick "worth it?"
John: I have no idea what makes it worth it. You try to draft the best players possible. Some players make big contributions and some players don't, but it's a percentage business. In an ideal scenario, D'Anthony Smith will play a key role as the third or fourth defensive tackle – and a third or fourth defensive tackle is a key member of a defensive line. The Jaguars believe he can do that if healthy, and so far this off-season, he appears to be healthy.
Radley from Orange Park, FL:
So at what point would a willful negligence to use the plethora of resources available to them (national media) to ensure they're not reporting misinformation make it propaganda?
John: Hardly ever. Propaganda is defined as being aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause. Something being wrong doesn't make it propaganda. It may be careless or lazy or just, plain wrong, but it doesn't make it evil in intention. Many believe the national media has an agenda against Jacksonville. I don't believe that. I believe for the most part they've grown to use Jacksonville as a joke when they don't feel like using the energy to think of anything else. I define that as laziness. That doesn't make it any more right, but it doesn't make it propaganda, either.
Joe from Jacksonville:
I just saw a documentary on NFL Network talking about the rookie season of most elite quarterbacks – Aikman, Vick, Manning, to name a few. They asked them to recount/reflect on their first year. It's funny to hear how miserable they were their rookie year and how they would like to forget it. What I don't understand is, how can so many people give up on or criticize Gabbert so much when most rookie quarterbacks had as bad a rookie season if not worse? Was everyone just as critical on these elite QBs on their rookie season?
John: It is the nature of fans – and indeed, people in general – to judge differently in the immediate than with the benefit of time and history. In other words, we have short-term memory. We look back on John Elway's career now and it's easy to forget that until his final two seasons he was judged as equal or perhaps worse than Dan Marino. Now, because he won Super Bowls in his final two seasons, there is a perception that he was significantly better during his career than Marino. The reality is through much of his career that wasn't how most saw them. The same is true of how people judge young quarterbacks. We instantly analyze a rookie season and project a career based on that season while forgetting that many, many rookies struggle. Rick Mirer was perceived as likely being very, very good after his rookie season and Eli Manning was thought to be a bust after his. Neither ended up that way. These things take time to play out, but it's not in our collective nature to allow time. If Gabbert improves this season, the commentary on him will be far different next off-season – just as the commentary on him this off-season is far different than it was this time a year ago.
The nature of fans
Let's get to it . . .
Steve from Fernandina Beach, FL: