Let's get to it . . .
Bryce from Algona, IA:
So, reportedly, Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee is not happy with being franchised. 1. Why would he be disappointed considering he was the odds-on favorite to be tagged, anyway? 2. Why be disappointed in a franchise tag that will pay him good money anyway? 3. Is this going to have any repercussions down the line as the two sides continue to try to reach a long-term deal?
John: Scobee is far from alone as a player unhappy with being franchised. In fact, NO NFL player ever wants to get the tag. Still, a common outcome is for a player to be tagged in the short term and signed to a long-term deal later in the offseason. In the case of Scobee, there seems every chance the sides will agree to a long-term deal, but because they apparently aren't particularly close now the Jaguars have the option of franchising Scobee, ensuring he will be on the roster and giving themselves time to negotiate. That's the team's side. As far as Scobee being disappointed, pretty much all players are disappointed when they are franchised because a long-term deal and the accompanying financial security and peace of mind is better than a short-team deal. I doubt it will have serious repercussions, honestly. The Jaguars want to sign Scobee long-term and at some point the sides will agree. Negotiations aren't always smooth, even when each side wants essentially the same thing.
Brandon from Charlotte, NC:
All sports go through eras and evolutions, and football is no exception. It would seem pretty evident that we are currently in the Golden Age of passing in football. Where do you see the game heading in the future, and how do you feel about this direction?
John: I doubt you'll see a trend away from passing, but I don't know that you'll see a continued spike in the passing numbers you saw this past season, either. While passing has increased in recent seasons, that it went up in a big way in 2011 I think was in part because defensive players are still adjusting to some of the new rules put in place for player safety. My guess is players and defenses will adjust to the rules in the next few seasons and slow passing offenses – to at least a small extent, anyway.
Tom from Section 106:
Considering Gregg Williams encouraged injuring players, and considering some injuries end careers, wouldn't it be an appropriate precedent to ban him from participating in the NFL for life? Why do we tolerate somebody intentionally subverting authority in the name of physically injuring someone who is just doing their job? Williams should be as synonymous with football as Pete Rose is to baseball – gone for life!
John: I believe it could happen, but I emphasize could. I believe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will consider it, and I believe he will be very tempted to do so. As I've said since this story broke, I believe the Saints' biggest crime here wasn't so much that the bounty program existed, but that they continued the practice – a practice not unheard-of in NFL circles – despite being told to stop. That's like when you catch your child misbehaving and tell him/her to stop. The punishment is usually worse if he/she blatantly disregards an order. I don't think there's any way Williams doesn't get a penalty that's as severe as anyone has received since Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were suspended a year for gambling in 1963. Here's why: the league not only investigated this, it announced it itself and immediately announced specific details, naming Williams in the process. It's a serious public relations hit, something the league obviously doesn't like. However, in this instance, it was clearly worth it to the league to take the PR hit to show how serious it is taking the issue of player safety. The only way to show it's taking the issue seriously is to come down hard. Strikingly and stunningly hard. Will Williams get banned? In the end, probably not permanently, but you might see something like a ban with a chance for reinstatement, and at the least I'd expect a season ban.
Jimmy from Gainesville, FL:
Reports I am reading are stating that the Saints will most likely lose future draft picks due to the 'bounty scandal.' How does the NFL determine which teams will get more picks in those drafts/rounds, or does that particular year's draft just have less players selected in total than in prior years?
John: The Saints would just lose picks. Other teams would not gain picks.
James from Destin, FL:
Could you share how much does the first pick of the draft receive versus the No. 10 overall pick? I take it must be some sort of equation?
John: Cam Newton went No. 1 overall to Carolina last year and signed a four-year contract worth $22 million guaranteed. Blaine Gabbert went No. 10 to Jacksonville and signed a four-year contract worth $12 million guaranteed.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Do you see the possibility of a premier wide receiver such as Marques Colston shying away from the Jaguars because they have a developing QB in Blaine Gabbert?
John: It'$ alway$ po$$ible, but there'$ $omething el$e that will be the overriding factor.
Michael from Kentwood, MI:
Looks like we are down to Colston, Jackson, Garcon, Douglas, and Wayne – do you think we will be able to land two of the five? If we don't, how much does that change where we might draft WR come April?
John: There's a chance. Of that group, it will be difficult to land two from the Colston, Jackson and Garcon group because all three likely will command $7 million a year or more, but a combination of one player on the level of Colston and another on the level of Douglas makes sense. As for how not landing two of those five will impact the draft, let's let the dust clear from free agency first.
James from Wilmington, NC:
How do you feel about Laurent Robinson as a Jaguar? What are the odds he doesn't get re-signed by the Cowboys before free agency starts?
John: On paper, it makes a lot of sense. Robinson caught 11 touchdown passes as Dallas' No. 3 receiver this past season, and on the surface he seems similar to Drew Coleman, Dwight Lowery or even Dawan Landry last season – guys who maybe weren't the highest-profile acquisitions of the off-season, but who produced on the field. One question is will Robinson be available? He has said he wants to return to Dallas. Another question is can he make a move from No. 3 receiver in Dallas to No. 1 or 2 in Jacksonville? League rules prevent Robinson from re-signing before March 13, so even though he wants to return to Dallas, any team wanting him will at least have a chance to make an offer before he re-signs. We'll see how that plays out, but as the free-agent market for receivers dwindles, players such as Robinson suddenly seem a lot more appealing to a market hungry for receivers.
Billy from Eastport, NY:
You have Whitney Mercilus mocked at No. 7 overall. People have been criticizing this because the pick isn't the "popular" selection of Coples and Ingram who get the most attention in the media. However, last year at No. 7 the 49ers selected Aldon Smith over the more "popular" names of: Robert Quinn, JJ Watt, and Ryan Kerrigan. Sixteen sacks later I think it's safe to say the 49ers made the right choice. I think Whitney Mercilus, like Aldon Smith, is the best pure pass rusher in his draft class. Do you see any similarities between those two players? And what do you think the likelihood is that Mercilus will be the first pass rusher taken?
John: I'm not sure the actual likelihood and I haven't seen enough of Mercilus to make a comparison. Here's the reason I mocked Mercilus at No. 7. I believe there is a pretty good chance the Jaguars would go defensive end with the first selection, and if they do, I believe they would go for an end with the best pass-rushing skills. If that's the case, I doubt the pick is Ingram or Courtney Upshaw, and a lot of the other defensive ends – Coples, in particular – have flaws that make them real first-round risks. As of right now, I'd be very surprised if the Jaguars took Coples and I'd be just as surprised if they took Nick Perry from Southern Cal. Mercilus reportedly is one of the best pure pass rushers in the draft. Does he merit the No. 7 selection? According to common perception seven weeks from the draft, absolutely not. Now, can that change between now and April 26? As you point out with your Aldon Smith analogy, it can. There are surprises in the draft every year because the lists we all read are compiled by observers and real draft boards often look different – at least in spots. Pass rusher often is one of those spots. There's obviously a very low likelihood that Mercilus will go at No. 7, but we'll see.
The overriding factor
Let's get to it . . .
Bryce from Algona, IA: