JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
The Third from Starkvegas
Well, if reports are accurate, they certainly don't appear to be sitting on the sidelines in the early going of legal tampering.
Monday was the first day of the NFL's "legal tampering" period heading into the 2022 League Year – and the Jaguars indeed were in no way "sitting on the sidelines." They in fact were notably aggressive, reportedly acquiring six unrestricted free agents: wide receiver Christian Kirk (Arizona Cardinals), offensive guard Brandon Scherff (Washington Commanders), linebacker Foye Oluokun (Atlanta Falcons), defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi (New York Jets), tight end Evan Engram (New York Giants) and wide receiver Zay Jones (Las Vegas Raiders). This was in line with what General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Doug Pederson said at the recent NFL Scouting Combine – that the team would be aggressive in '22 free agency. And the early thought here is that the Jaguars were not only aggressive, they channeled that aggressiveness into areas that made sense given the current state of the roster. Scherff is a five-time Pro Bowl selection at a position where the Jaguars were losing four-year starter Andrew Norwell and seven-year starter A.J. Cann as free agents. Kirk is one of the top players at a position where the free-agent market had been depleted in recent days by a flurry of teams placing franchise tags on top receivers. As for Oluokun and Fatusaki … the Jaguars entered the 2022 offseason needing to get stouter on the interior of the defense; those two players appear major steps in that direction. I got asked often in the days leading to free agency whether the Jaguars would be aggressive early in the period. I also was asked what aggressive meant, exactly. If what the Jaguars did Monday doesn't get close to your definition of aggressive, I'm not sure what will.
Josh from Atlanta, GA
The amount of furor regarding the "overspending" is absolutely insane to me. Do average minds not understand that this has been a BAD TEAM? Hell, they have been awful. What do you have to do to get good players to come to a bad team when they are being offered similar deals to go to decent or even good teams? You have to payyyy them. Now, are all of these players worth overspending on? Definitely remains to be seen. But hey, we made the biggest splash and this was fun. Boy, was it fun.
All teams overpay in free agency. It's the nature of the process. It's also the nature of the process that not every player acquired Monday will be universally viewed as "worth" the money. When you get yourself in position to have to acquire multiple key starters/contributors in one offseason – and the Jaguars definitely finagled their way into that position – you by definition are going to spend a LOT of money. And because teams typically find a way to keep their absolute best players and prevent them from becoming free agents, some of those players are going to have imperfections. The goal of this free agency period for the Jaguars was to acquire players with a chance to make a difference – and to be upgrades. They appear to have done that. Was it fun? I feel certain a lot of the players the Jaguars acquired enjoyed it. Hell, how could they not?
Andy from Halifax
I am very happy with how the Jags have decided to approach free agency. Active very early.
There was much concern among observers that the Jaguars would not be aggressive in free agency. This concern existed despite Baalke and Pederson saying during the combine that the team would be aggressive. This proved not to be a concern.
JT from Palm Coast, FL
I read a stat (from I believe Field Yates) that said the team that spent the most in free agency over the last six years has improved the most in terms of wins the following season. Jags improved by six or seven wins in 2017 when we "won" free agency." Can you see us spending the most in this upcoming free agency?
This often is a bit of a self-fulfilling statistic because teams that spend big in free agency often are at the bottom of the league, and an argument can be made that it's a bit easier to improve from three or four victories to six or seven than to improve from eight or nine victories to 11 or 12. As for the Jaguars spending the most in '22 free agency … if they're not at the top of that list, they sure seem destined to be in the conversation.
Daniel from Jax
Leading the league in available salary cap is not the same as managing it. Isn't it better to re-sign you're starting young players early for a good contract to avoid having to starters at the end of their contract and not being able to keep them?
If the players are good, yes. If the money is right, yes.
Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville FL
Okay. I like what I am seeing. I would still like to see the Jaguars retain wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. This team needs to start retaining stars to second-contract periods. Too much talent we draft and never see the fruits of long term. Kirk hopefully will help, but as always this is a wait and PROVE it to us. Been too optimistic and too hopeful with no results for too many years. But again, lots to like in what we see. Honestly, O-man what do you think the realistic timeframe is to see this team contend? I hope 2024 is being realistic because we have a lot to fix and not a lot of depth on this roster.
The Jaguars without question must reach a point that they are signing more drafted players to second contracts. That's a stated goal for Pederson and Baalke, and good teams absolutely typically have a core of so-called second-contract players. At the same time, this isn't something teams should force; teams shouldn't sign players to second contracts simply so they can say, "See, we signed 'X' or 'Y' player to a second contract!" The goal is to draft and develop well enough that teams absolutely know beyond doubt that it's worth signing "X" or "Y" player to a second contract and that the player is unquestionably a core player. As for your other points, we'll take them one at a time. One: Yes, free agency is very much wait and see. Always. And considering the Jaguars' results in recent seasons, how couldn't you want the Jaguars to prove it on the field? Two: I expect the Jaguars to improve in 2022 and have a chance to contend for the postseason the following season. There indeed is much to fix and not much depth, but pushing to get above .500 by '23 shouldn't be that unrealistic.
Dakota from Dupree, SD
Man, I hope they can still re-sign Chark. The wide receiver room would look pretty respectable. What's your opinion, Zone?
I wrote often in the days and weeks leading to free agency that I believed it would be difficult and unlikely to re-sign Chark if he wasn't re-signed before the tampering period began. It's traditionally difficult for teams to retain players once they begin to receive offers from competing teams. The tampering period began Monday with Chark still unsigned.
John from Jacksonville
Hi KOAGF - Am I alone or do others get bothered with all of the star players who announce their retirement, get lots of reaction/attention, then announce they were kidding and decided on returning to play another season after all? This little game to garner more self-serving attention is becoming more common. Especially for players who don't make it to the Super Bowl and need to manufacture attention back on themselves. Sad.
You're probably not the only one bothered by this. I don't know that it's a huge problem compared to other issues in life – or even the NFL.
Buddy from Jacksonville
Hey KOAF is this considered the start of the Official Dead Zone?
Different people define the Dead Zone in different ways, though I've always thought of it as a period when not much new is happening around the Jaguars and questions to the O-Zone dwindle a bit. Free agency begins this week, with the 2022 NFL Draft soon to follow. In that sense, I expect the O-Zone to feel very much alive. More so than its writer, anyway.
Fred from Naples, FL
Based on early projected signings he can now be referred to as Mayor Baalke!!
Hey, one fer Baalke …
Bradley from Ozark Mountains, AR
Super GM Trent Baalke has signed three ascending players and an elite offensive guard. So far. Good start to a new day in Duval.
… and another for Baalke (and one for free agency being cool and fans liking it) …
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, so does everyone love Baalke now?
… I don't know, but Bradley and Fred are feeling sort of partial to him.