Let's get to it . . . Luis from Section 206:
Maurice Jones-Drew is not just any player; he is a star player, so the statement that every player will ask to re-do their contracts is inaccurate. If you are a star and the amount of money is within the top 5 running backs, you renegotiate his contract.
John: I'm worn out on this subject, as I'm sure a lot of people are, so I really don't want to get into a long-term argument today. As a team, you need to establish that contracts are contracts, and that while you will put an emphasis on keeping your own players in free agency you will not necessarily tear up contracts after big seasons. You're saying a team should renegotiate with any player who is a star based on big seasons. Last year, the Jaguars had one player who had such a season. If they have three or four, do you renegotiate with all of them?
Ken from Vero Beach, FL:
What is the latest on Percy Harvin? He would look good in a Jag uniform.
John: There was a brief gurgling a few weeks ago that Harvin was seeking a trade from the Vikings. Within days, he put a rest to the talk and he is expected to remain with Minnesota.
Tom from Hallandale Beach, FL:
I am aware of the way contracts work in the NFL. That said, can't the system change? Could a club offer a player a "for-life" deal? Say, instead of paying a star $7 million a year, offer $500,000 per year until the age of 60. I read where most NFL players are broke within five years of leaving the game. Could this be a way ensuring they have an income, take care of their medical, & build loyalty both ways? I know this is a simplistic approach, but why not?
John: It could work. But players want up-front money. They want signing bonuses. You also run into the problem of the team being committed to a player for 30-to-35 years. That's not convenient if an owner wants to sell the team, and it also could theoretically eat up salary cap space for years into the future. Overall, the best way to say it is it's not impossible to do, but it's just not practical.
Michael from Jonesboro, GA:
How many players have ever truly held out an entire year? I can't think of any and in true O-zoneism form I need to not look it up and just ask you instead. Money is and always will be the most important factor in all decisions when it comes to a player's actions. I would wager lunch and a 16 oz. draft of Magic Hat#9 on the number of actual hold-outs being 10 times less than the number of players who have stated they will not play under their current contract but actually end up doing so. That could be a very telling number in this war of whether the Jaguars should pay Scobee and MJD.
John: The number of players who actually hold out for a season is indeed small. As we mentioned Wednesday in the O-Zone, John Riggins did it in 1980, and there have been a few others. It's usually not done for the simple reason that the career of an NFL player is relatively short and sitting out means giving up a year of income the player won't realistically get back. If a player is underpaid at $2 million it's still going to be tough for that player to make that in another line of work.
Skip from Mayport, FL:
Will the Jags have a hard-hitting, tough football team this year? Oh wait: there is no hitting in the NFL anymore. It is all basketball on grass. Could this be why they are having trouble filling the stands around the league?
John: There may be slightly less hitting, but I'm not a guy who believes it's basketball on grass. I certainly don't think it's hurting the game's popularity. The television ratings and money indicate the game remains very, very popular.
Matt from West Covina, CA:
Hey O-Man, how would the greatest show on turf (Rams) match up with the '85 Bears with the rules during '85 and then with the rules we have now?
John: I believe the Bears would win either game because of their ability to pressure the quarterback. They absolutely would have won under the '85 rules. The way the rules are now, they still would win if the Rams couldn't figure out a way to get them blocked.
Bryan from Rancho Cucamonga, CA:
I'm a little disappointed. You're funny, and this is in fact your Q&A. But I find myself skipping questions a lot. It seems like you keep choosing the same topics (MJD and Scobee), or answers that feature you saying "Not to be snide" or just funny ones. It was funny for a while, but I want football. I want to know who you think will win the starting job from Rashean and Aaron Ross? Or who's winning the Super Bowl this year? Who's going to be the breakout player this year on any team? Or more Gene Smith praise from fans! I'm all for fun, but I just don't want to skip questions anymore. I'm ready for the "Not to be snide" reply.
John: I never want to give the impression that I'm not listening to the readers. In a very real sense, this isn't my Q&A; it belongs to anyone who writes in and reads and enjoys or doesn't enjoy, and I do listen to criticism. I respond to topics as they get asked, and there certainly is a challenge in the offseason of keeping the topics varied and footballcentric. I would also remind you that there are 365 days in a year and the great majority of those I like to believe the column is pretty varied and football-oriented.
Gary from Broken Arrow, OK:
No questions, no demands. Just a heartfelt thank you.
John: Not to be snide, but I think Rashean Mathis will start at cornerback.
Buddy from Jacksonville:
The Program is the greatest sports movie of all time.
John: Not to be snide, but I think the Packers will win the Super Bowl.
Chris from Middleburg, FL :
So Ronnie is suggesting that because he is under the tag, Scobee is going to intentionally miss field goals. Yeah, that will surely increase his chances of getting that long term deal he so craves.
John: This has been a topic the last few days. Let's say this as clearly as I can: I don't care what Scobee says in the off-season. It's OK for him to be upset. It's OK for him to talk to the media and say what he wants. It's OK for him to even say things to imply he might be mentally hurt by being franchised. He's also a professional and takes pride in his performance. If he's with the team – and I don't doubt he will be – he'll be professional and give everything he has.
Judd from Jacksonville:
Casey from New Hampshire and Stephen from Jacksonville are just plain stupid. Thankfully Mr. Khan doesn't seem to have been trained in the same school of business. You don't overspend for positions you can easily replace, no matter how much you may like a player; nor do you pay a player more than he's worth just cause you have cap space (as a lot of teams have done with running backs – i.e. Titans). And yes, most of us make nothing compared to these guys but clearly you are out of touch with society if you don't understand why these guys are paid what they are. It is what it is and you can't blame the players for wanting what they should get. But for the first time in years, the Jags are doing things the right way and I am more than excited about the future of the Jaguars.
John: I tend to agree. As you indicate, not giving into the demands of Jones-Drew and Scobee isn't a matter of not wanting the player. It's a matter of paying market value and being realistic about what the positions are worth. I don't get the sense the Jaguars are going to come off their current stance on these two players much, and that's OK.
Keith from Palatka and Section 214:
Last summer, I wrote that I did not think we were a good football team. With a rash of players on IR, and a rookie QB forced to play with little preparation, we were 5-11. I am generally a realist, and I am genuinely excited about the upcoming season. We are a much improved football team with the addition of players and coaches. Am I being overly optimistic, or is this team really ready to rise?
John: I believe it is. And I believe that the national media is missing the potential improvement because Blaine Gabbert struggled last season. I also believe coaching is going to make a significant difference in terms of the preparation level on this team. Am I right to believe that? Time will tell.
Time will tell
Let's get to it . . . Luis from Section 206: