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Time for calculated guessing

Let's get to it . . . Nick from Fleming Island, FL:
It seems before free agency started last year we had a better idea of who we were trying to pursue. I remember hearing Eric Weddle, Paul Posluzny and Clint Session a lot. It seems like free agency this year is a question mark. I have heard about Marques Colston and Mario Williams, but it seems like a stretch to get them. What players do you think the Jags might pursue who are under our radar?
John: If the Jaguars surprise people in the early hours/days of free agency, they have done their jobs. There is simply no benefit to the team for observers to have a clear idea of their free-agency plans before the signing period begins. Therefore, we are left to calculated projections – i.e., guessing. I've mentioned wide receiver Pierre Garcon of Indianapolis quite a bit, and I see players such as Laurent Robinson of Dallas and Josh Morgan of San Francisco as possibilities at receiver, too. It wouldn't surprise me if a name pops up at receiver we've all ignored or dismissed. I also get the sense the Jaguars could pursue a cornerback, and a player such as Brandon Carr of Kansas City is a possibility. Mario Williams and Marques Colston are players I think the Jaguars like. How seriously the Jaguars get involved in either likely will depend on if they can afford to pay one of those two players and still be involved with enough free agents to fill their needs. So, there it is – the calculated guess. At some point we can all look back on it and laugh.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
I know that free agency starts March 13th at 4 p.m. but how long do you think it will be before the Jaguars make a signing? Will it be Tuesday, the next day, next week? How quickly do really good and elite players get signed?
John: I expect it to be very soon. Good players don't wait.
Blake from Jacksonville:
Not sure about all of the talk that Shad needs to prove he'll spend money. I'm sure he'll spend money in a calculated manner, not for the purpose of reaching some threshold of dollars out the door. The same guys said the Jaguars were cheap last year for not signing Sydney Rice, who would have been a complete bust, and have we forgotten what happened after 1999 when we went crazy on spending? Spend the amount of money that is necessary to bring in players that the organization believes will help the team without mortgaging the future of the team.
John: I tend to agree with you, and that tendency makes some people angry. I don't believe you can "force" players in free agency any more than you can in the draft. Overspending in free agency for a guy you don't believe in may fill a depth-chart need and make fans happy in March, but it just leads to frustration come the fall. Saying that, I believe the Jaguars can and will improve in the coming days. It just has to be done in an intelligent, calm manner and that might not necessarily be a way that garners great "grades" from the talking heads.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
So, teams can't talk to free agents until Tuesday at 4 p.m., but every year deals are signed minutes after the start of the pro free agency period. How do they go through all of their options so quickly if teams can't talk to them until then? (wink wink, nod, nod).
John: I have no idea what you're trying to imply.
Ian from Leeds, UK:
Assuming the real draft goes similarly to the reader mock, do you think the Rams will use their No. 6 pick, or could they potentially trade down again to pick up even more selections from a quarterback-hungry team (Seattle, maybe?). Not a massive drop-off from Blackmon to their second-rated wide receiver, but they'd probably get another second-rounder to play with at the very least. What do you think the odds are?
John: I have no idea the odds, and although I haven't seen the Rams' draft board, your point is right – that many don't see a huge drop from Blackmon to other receivers. Sometimes teams do get trade crazy and just try to accumulate as many picks as possible, but there are other times you don't want to drop too far. Whatever the position, I hold to the philosophy of, "If a guy is there that you like, take him." You don't want to drop down too far and keep yourself from getting a very good player.
Stan from East Timor:
O-man, can you explain why the NFL punished the Cowboys and Redskins for front-loading contracts in 2010 even though they technically did not break any rules and initially approved the contracts?
John: Teams were told many times – reportedly at least six – not to dump salaries into the uncapped year (2010). The Cowboys and Redskins did, anyway, and apparently did so blatantly enough that it merited punishment. The Commissioner reportedly was being urged pretty strongly by owners to punish the Cowboys and Redskins. He did. Whether those penalties hold remains to be seen, but the Commissioner came down on the franchises pretty hard. It's hard to imagine him doing that if he thought the penalties had a chance of being overturned.
Tyler from Neptune Beach, FL:
O-Man, once a player has declared for the draft, if he still had a year of eligibility left, could he back out of the draft and go back to college and play out his final year?
John: No.
Ben from Section 203:
I'm having nightmares of Peyton Manning in a Titans uniform. I worry about what will happen to everything we are trying to build if Manning goes to the Titans and proceeds to beat us into the ground for another two or three years. I know I'm not the only one. Talk us down from the ledge.
John: I can't tell you adding Manning wouldn't make the Titans better. It probably would. The team that would concern me more is the Texans. If Manning goes there, they're awfully good so long as he's healthy. Saying all of that, I honestly don't spend a lot of time worrying about who is on other rosters. Build your team and get good enough to beat whoever you play. The franchises that concentrate on getting strong enough to beat all opponents and not just ones in their division are the ones that become elite.
Kyle from Orange Park, FL:
If the Jags lose Mincey and Lowery in free agency, will they receive compensatory picks for them in this year's draft?
John: No. They could receive compensatory selections in the 2013 draft based in part on how Mincey and Lowery perform this season.
Josh from Zephyrhills, FL:
Why are so many people down on the idea of Tebow? It's funny how guys like Dilfer, Favre, Steve Young and Mark Brunell were all guys not highly thought upon and they became successful! Gabbert scares me and reminds me of Rob Johnson and JP Losman or even a Matt Leinhart! Every one of them had great upside but never could get over the shadow pass rush! I haven't heard of gabbert working to get better with anyone... Tebow works all the time and has an ongoing pursuit of making his team better though him getting better! I'm sick of the constant downgrading of fans bashing Tebow saying they don't want him!.... I would LOVE to have him! At least there would be excitement and something to watch on the field week in and week out, and return the glory days!
John: I was accused Monday of not running any pro-Tebow emails.
Matthew from Jacksonville :
I can't believe the ridiculousness of some of the O-Zone readers! I do not follow college football and am not one of the Tebow-worshippers, however, he did lead his team to the playoffs. He did make games exciting. All these people threatening to not re-purchase season tickets if Tebow becomes a Jag would be doing Jacksonville residents a favor. This stadium will sell out for at least 2-3 years if they don't make the playoffs. Professional football is a business and the primary goal SHOULDN'T be to win. The primary goal should be to give the fans what THEY want in order to sell tickets.
John: I ran this in the hopes that people will read the last two sentences. I have nothing more to add.
Emily from Boulder, CO:
What's the chance of the Broncos landing Manning AND holding onto Tebow? It seems to me that this would be an ideal situation. Tebow could sit and work on mechanics for a few years from two of the best QBs in history (Elway and Manning) and take over when Manning's done. Any chance this happens, or is it an automatic trade situation if Manning is signed?
John: If Manning is signed, I'd be surprised if Tebow isn't traded. While I'm not a huge believer in Tebow, I do believe he has been successful enough to merit a chance to play and prove if he indeed is capable of succeeding long-term. And as good as Manning is for a team, I just don't think he would spend much time mentoring Tebow. He spends just about every waking moment doing what he can to prepare. There's no point asking him to cut into that to reach a young player, and a team wouldn't want him to, anyway.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Wow! Paraphrasing you: 'If my column is the highlight of your day, your life really sucks!' You crack me up!
John: Sometimes the truth can be very funny.

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