[Editor note: Zoltan has been working this article for almost 2 weeks. A lot of good thoughts in here. I gave it the Sunday morning spot so you can have a cup of coffee and enjoy]
I think no matter how the 2010 season develops, the Jaguars are facing a very troubled period of change. The storm clouds are gathering. The Jaguars will have plenty of key players available for free agency. That is one storm cloud. The Jaguars will need to find a new head coach and/or a new quarterback. I don’t believe Jack Del Rio or David Garrard will be signed to new long term deals. Jack is signed through 2011, but will make noise about an extension at the end of 2010. For the 2011 draft, when the Jaguars see the QBs available, they will have to strongly consider using the 1st or 2nd round selection on this position. That will create new storm clouds. Will there be a new Collective Bargaining Agreement? All signs point to the league almost needing to eliminate the salary cap so smaller market teams can spend less and big teams allowed to spend more. Labor unrest and the new arrangements with the players is another potentially large storm cloud. When you add it all up, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be very much different when they take the field in 2011 and 2012 than they are now.
I don’t want to be scare anyone; but in my opinion, for small market teams, life will be much more tougher than it has ever been in the NFL. The role of the draft will be very much more important. Even if the small market teams find elite players; it will be extremely difficult to keep them from eventually making it to the big market teams. With no low end floor on salary, players will want shorter contracts out of college, not 5 and 6 years deals, but 3 year deals.
You don’t believe me? It has already happened in Tennessee! Do you see what Chris Johnson has started? He want to be payed – to be PAYED=huge blockbuster contracts-after 2 years in the NFL. And if he does not get the money don’t you think he will say the magic words: “trade me”. In a new world of three year contracts and bidding wars from teams with lots of money and owners who focused more on their team’s interest then the 31 other teams, Chris Johnson’s actions will be common. I’m telling you Jerry Jones would give a 1st round pick for Chris Johnson and he will PAY the guy how he wants. And he can do it because he has an almost unlimited amount of money. Well you can say there are few players worth that prices and I agree. But they are the biggest playmakers.
In my opinion, free agency will be the playground of the rich teams. And many players have Chris Johnson’s attitude, they want to get PAYED too. In a league without a salary cap, rich teams can spend until they broke! So to the small market teams if you srcew up your drafts consistently, you will be in the bottom part of the league for a long time. Now writers have noticed what everyone who has observed the league close enough have been saying for awhile: one the biggest advantage of the league is gone! I’m talking about the parity. Lions; Raiders, Bills; 49ers; not too long ago Cardinals were constantly bad teams. Point to the draft if you want to know why. This will be the fate of the small market teams who don’t draft well. The Jaguars were saved by Tom Coughlin’s draft picks during the Shack Harris era. Gene Smith is trying to reconstruct the roster as fast as he can. But you must understand, 1 good out of 6 1st round draft pick is and will be not enough to achieve great things. The Jaguars almost drafted themselves out of existance.
Draft and even undrafted free agency as role will be much more important for the small market teams. Now I have 1 good news. It seems there will be a rookie salary cap. I can absolutely support that idea. Eugene Monroe received $2 million more in the same draft spot than Derrick Harvey a year ago after a long holdout.This is insane and must be regulated. If that happens small market teams have at least 1 small victory. But I think with the salary cap gone; major storm clouds will show up for small market teams like the Jaguars!