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O-Zone: A simple ending

Posted Mar 22, 2013

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . .

Wallace from Jacksonville:
John: How many years do Eugene Monroe and Tyson Alualu have on their rookie contracts? How much do they count against the 2013 salary cap? It would seem that both players need to have solid performances in the coming season or David Caldwell will be reluctant to sign them to a new contract. Your thoughts?
John: Monroe has one year remaining on his rookie contract, which means he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2013 season. He is projected to count about 5.7 million against the cap. Alulau has two years remaining on his contract and is projected to count about $3.5 million against the cap next season. My thoughts are that, yes, each needs to have a solid season or Caldwell will be reluctant to re-sign them. He has no connection to either player, and his goal is clearly to make the roster better. He won’t be re-signing players to long-term, core-player deals unless they are . . . well, core players. My guess is the standard for being considered such a player will be quite high.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
How private are these private workouts? Are they set up by the player or does the team call in the player?
John: The team typically schedules the workout through the player’s agent.
Keith from Summerville, SC:
I just watched the re-signing video of Brad Meester and the one question I'm left with is "just how many daughters has he got?" I counted at least five! I'm the father of three and that's tough enough. Brad is a beast!
John: From what I can tell from the video, Meester has 33 children, all girls. I’m not even sure he knows how many there are anymore. I do know that if I had five children at home and one on the way, I’d play football as long as possible, too.
Dan from Denver, CO:
John, what is your feeling on what the Jaguars will do with Daryl Smith? Are they in talks to re-sign him, or have they decided to move on? And either way, what is the linebacker situation looking like for next season? Thanks!
John: The Jaguars are very open to re-signing Smith. As has been the case since free agency began, the issue is whether Smith can get a deal on the open market that is better than what he can get in Jacksonville. Smith isn’t likely to get a long-term contract with a significant signing bonus from the Jaguars, so if he can’t get that on the open market, there’s a good chance he would re-sign here. As far as the linebacker situation, if Smith returns he almost certainly would start, and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny almost certainly will start in the middle. Newly signed Geno Hayes is an option on the outside, as are Russell Allen and Julian Stanford.
Ryan from Vidalia, GA:
Thanks for answering my question about MJD, John! Means a lot. I used to read Ask Vic a lot but after the lockout season I got away from reading the O-Zone. I think I may be returning for the long haul here. You express some good points and explain things nicely. Keep up the good work. I'll enjoy reading the daily thread again.
John: Welcome back. Only you can resolve with yourself the nearly two years you wasted.
Brad from Section 115:
Not trying to be facetious, but how is Caldwell’s version of Best Available Player different than the previous management group?
John: (Deep breath). Where to start, where to start . . . First off, I haven’t heard David Caldwell talk about Best Available Player much. He has said, in fact, that he often drafts on need, particularly in the early rounds. Second off, I have to say I’m about worn out on this whole “BAP” versus needs thing. The reality is NFL teams all try to get the best available player within the context of their needs. Bill Polian used to talk about a needs-best available “axis,” and contrary to how it often has been portrayed, former Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith did not operate in a BAP vacuum. Rather, he ranked players, and because the draft board separated itself into groups of players, he usually picked needs from the group of best available players at the spot. We can go around and around and around trying to idealize some idealistic version of BAP or needs, but the truth is most teams have the same draft philosophy. Some general managers just have more good fortune and hit more often than others.
Eder from Mexico City, Mexico:
With Maurice Jones-Drew’s hard-fighting style, do you think he can receive a lot of penalties with the new rules? Sometimes in the open field, he puts the head down and hits defenders before they hit him.
John: There’s no question he could be susceptible to penalties. He, like all other running backs, will have to adapt to the rules. This doesn’t seem to be an area officials are going to overlook.
Ace from Duval County, FL:
Ummmm, I wonder what kind of amazing stapler you stole that uses nails. I'm pretty sure you would need a nail gun – or at least a staple gun. You must have had a long day up to that point already, huh?
John: I don’t know, but this one just got longer.
David from Ponca City, OK:
Building through the draft? How many players do they believe they can get in the draft that are really good players? Has everybody forgotten or they just don't believe "players not plays."
John: This is a process that will take time, so to answer your question in the proper perspective, in time the number of players they believe they can get in the draft is, “Enough to build the foundation.” After that, there will be time to determine if that’s enough, or if free agency is needed as a supplement.
Brandi from Callahan, FL:
You smell funny.
John: Who doesn’t?
Perry from Orange Park, FL:
You keep saying the Jags are not looking to sign anyone who would command a big signing bonus and I'm confused as to why that's a sticking point. From what I understand, that money would be paid upfront this year. Is that correct? If it is, we have cap space now, so couldn't we take a risk on someone without being tied down to them for a while? Not advocating a spending-spree just confused about this point.
John: That confusion is understandable. The reason primarily is that as a general rule the Jaguars don’t want to use the free-agent market as the primary way to build the roster. You’re generally getting other teams’ problems and castoffs and there’s little history of success. They’re trying right now to build a base, a young roster of drafted players. They then want a lot of young players competing for a lot of positions and establishing a culture here. The plan is to use free agency at a later date, when the team has had a draft or maybe two to establish its roster. You can roll cap space into the future, so why not save that space until a year when you can spend it wisely and you’re closer to having an established roster moving in the right direction?
Tony from Jacksonville:
I think I finally get Caldwell's philosophy, and I like it. Start with a pretty bad team. Build it initially through the draft and with lots of undrafted free agents to create competition and locate some inexpensive diamonds in the rough. Sign lower-priced free agents that are younger and motivated to prove themselves (maybe they never got a real chance before) via intense competition to bring out the best in them. Don't break the bank on high-priced free agents that would be past their prime once we were actually competing for championships, and scaring away undrafted players. Save money for when we hit playoff team status. I could see this approach next offseason, too. THEN, when we've built a solid, young team through the draft, selectively and judiciously use free agency to fill in remaining holes to put us over the top. If this is indeed the approach, I can still see us being better than last year just because, as you said, a lot has to go wrong to go 2-14. It will require patience (maybe 2-3 years) before we become that playoff team, but I'm willing to wait to have a perennial winner for years to come.
John: Thanks for reading.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
When a free agent signs with a team, can the coach meet him? If so, what can be discussed if football can't be until next month?
John: The coach can meet the free agent and they can talk. They can get to know one another as people and the coach can talk general philosophy. That’s about it for now.
Winston from Orlando, FL:
John, r u sad when the fire goes out?
John: Not when it’s in my kitchen.
Dan from Jacksonville:
You think the league would ever consider moving the draft up before free agency? For a team like us it would make a lot more sense, it would at least calm this fan base down a bit.
John: You hear talk of that every year, and there are pros and cons to each. Yes, having the draft before free agency would calm some fans a bit. At the same time, there would be holes left in rosters after drafts that would get fans equally irritated. Fans are going to be dissatisfied with roster moves every offseason. How you structure the calendar probably isn’t going to change that much.
Mark from Johnson City, TN:
Hello.
John: Goodbye.

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