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Weeding through it

Let's get to it . . . Tim from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Occasionally I'll read where a player is signed with incentive-laden clauses in the contract. Since I don't understand legal jargon, why isn't something like this done with guys like Maurice Jones-Drew – have performance bonuses that reward a player if they have a good year? Wouldn't that simplify some of this posturing that goes on all of the time, and cut down on some of the "look at what so and so is getting?" A player has a good year, they get a bonus; if not, they get their standard pay.
John: I don't know the details of Jones-Drew's current deal, and because he hasn't discussed his possible holdout much publicly, I don't know what he's seeking in a new deal. What I do know is players looking for new contracts typically don't want incentive-laden deals, because if they don't reach those incentives, they don't get paid. Teams also don't include incentives in every big-name deal for much the same reason – if the players reach them, they must pay them. It's also difficult for a team to have an overwhelming number of incentive-laden deals, because the incentives do count against the salary cap at some point. We've gotten this question a lot in the last couple of days: "Why don't the Jaguars just give Jones-Drew an incentive-based deal?" My answer remains the same: I just don't think that's going to solve the issue.
Mike from Hatteras, NC:
Why do you make it so obvious you're asking and setting up your own cute little answers?
John: Mike, if I was really making up questions, I could do better than this.
Heath from Jacksonville:
I know what I don't know and I don't know football the way you do. Talk to me for real about why some of the notable free-agent wideouts currently on the market aren't a good fit for our organization. Obviously, we are in way less of a dire situation at wide receiver than last year, but the vibe of your responses so far seems like you wouldn't go near them even saddled with last year's wide receiver corps.
John: Free agency is a tool best used in moderation with a clear plan. Pursuing a free agent or two during the early and middle part of the free-agency period often makes sense if you have researched the player and believe he fits specific needs. Picking up free agents just for the sake of doing so as the season draws nearer is not a way to build and those players rarely help you in any significant way. Think of it like this: every NFL team can use impact, offense-changing receivers. If these guys could really help, they would be signed already. And you're right that even if the Jaguars had last year's receiver I wouldn't advocate signing big-name available veterans. Those signings are often "quick fixes" that actually fix nothing. The Jaguars are trying to build something here. You do that with solid young players, not aging veterans.
Todd from Jacksonville:
Hey, John. It's Friday morning and I'm having a rough day so far. Things just don't seem to be going right for me. When you have a rough morning, what do you do to get back on track mentally?
John: I usually don't do anything in particular. I just complain to my co-workers, then let things careen out of control and wait until drinkin' time.
Gary from DeBary, FL:
"...are you kidding me? A list? You want them to negotiate based on a list?" Really? Is that all it is? A list? No, I want them to negotiate based on the fact that he is obviously one of the elite players in the game. From the first time he stepped on the field as a rookie he has shown that he is a champion. He is the best player on the team and should be paid not based on past performance, but based on the level of play we now know he will produce week after week. This is not about a list. It is not about past performance. It is not about 'potential'. It is about the Jacksonville Jaguars doing what it takes to put the best team on the field every week. A team we/they can be proud of. A team full of elite players who are proud to be Jaguars. It is about a team installing a new offense who wants to be clicking on all cylinders on week 1. How much better will the team be if the best player is on the field and in the locker room on the first day of training camp?
John: OK, but your email this week did emphasize the list. I don't worry much about Jones-Drew not picking up the offense – even if he misses a few days of training camp. But here's something people seem to forget when they clamor to pay Jones-Drew: the Jaguars already are, and have been for six seasons. You say the Jaguars need to do what it takes to put the best team on the field every week. That's what they did when they gave Jones-Drew an extension three years ago. There are many people within the league who believe the Titans and Vikings made mistakes by signing Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson to the contracts they signed. It's not the Jaguars' responsibility to blindly follow suit.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Is this now the "dead period" until late July?
John: Pretty much.
Fred from Valdosta, GA:
Sorry for the correction, but Shawshank is one of my favorite movies and the character's name is Andy. I do imagine sometimes that you feel like Andy crawling through the pipe before you get to the point of adulation.
John: Correction noted and appreciated. I was so sure I had written "Andy" originally that I was ready to argue your point. I went back and checked, and indeed it was Anthony. I have no idea how that happened. I blame the sisters.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
A Shawshank Redemption reference? John, I have to know where that movie ranks in your all-time favorite list. Keep in mind, my all-important opinion of you will be heavily influenced by your answer. No pressure.
John: Friday's brain fade aside, I'd have to put in in the Top 10. I don't have a hard, fast Top 10, but that'd have to be in it.
Paul from Section 146:
OK, don't rework the MJD contract. I get it. Can't King Khan give Mojo some Reward Cash for winning the rushing title? Make a production out of it. An award ceremony at EverBank next month before training camp. Cheerleaders! D-Line! Give Pocket Hercules an incentive to do it again. Sell some season tickets. Lure the Face of the Franchise back to Jacksonville by treating him like the gridiron hero he is. I think he'll show. Can't all of this be done separately from the contract? Do you hear me? KHHHHAAAAAAAAAAANN!!
John: First, it can't be done separately from the contract, because any money given to Jones-Drew now would count under the salary cap. Secondly, we're talking about the NFL here. You don't give bonuses that aren't in the contract. You act professionally. You act as if productive seasons are expected. You agree to contracts and you structure your cap and your roster and your organization around those agreements. You also don't act as if one player is infinitely more important than the rest. You assume going forward that your roster is going to develop and that your team is going to improve accordingly so that it doesn't seem like the end of the world if one player does or doesn't show up to camp on time. That's how the Jaguars are starting to act, and that' s a good sign. It doesn't mean Jones-Drew isn't great, and it doesn't mean he's underserving. It just means they're not planning to renegotiate.
Jon from Ponte Vedra, FL:
My son plays varsity football locally and was invited to Joe Cullen's D-line camp earlier this week, free of charge. In attendance: Coach Cullen, Knighton, Alualu, Branch, Mincey, Chick, Spicer to name a few. It made a big impression with my son, and with me, due to the fact this type of community happening for about 100 high school kids wasn't seen on ESPN or local television, for that matter. By the way, my son says Coach Cullen is a madman! Hats off to all these guys for taking a few hours during week to teach the up and coming kids; even Knighton spoke on his unfortunate incident. Great Job Jags organization. I will continue to be a supporter.
John: Nothing to add except to say Cullen is indeed a class act and it's indeed a great event. And yeah, Cullen's a madman.
Frannie from Birmingham, AL:
What do you think about this year's cheerleaders? Will they have an awesome season?
John: This is my favorite question I have received in a long, long time.
Nathan from Richmond, VA:
Andy got a whole lot of "stinky" on him on the way to that freedom, John. Just what does your morning contain that would write that analogy?
John: A lot of my morning is spent perusing O-Zone questions and weeding through the . . . well, you get the idea.

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