When the season does start (and believe me, it will start at some point), free agency will open up to all teams. Free agency is a little bit different this year, if you didn’t already know. The 2011 NFL Draft came before Pro Free Agency and Undrafted Free Agency. How does this affect the Jaguars? Well, in the prior two years to the 2011 offseason, GM Gene would use Pro Free agency to solidify the Jags’ roster before the Draft at positions of need. This season we learned that GM Gene is most assuredly BAP, as he drafted players that weren’t the most dire need on the team and didn’t draft any players at positions devoid of talent. Today we’ll look at potential free agency targets.
GM Gene has stated that the Jags will look to sign 2-4 free agents once free agency opens up and they will fill out the rest of the roster with undrafted free agents. Here’s a position group by position group analysis of free agents that could be acquired
QB – None
RB/FB – None
TE – None
WR – The Jags have a couple speedsters on the team in Thomas and Hill. The have a big bodied receiver in Osgood. They have a possession receivers in Dillard. Shorts has yet to show his ability in the NFL. The Jags seem to be lacking a true number one (a person with size, hands and speed). If the Jags choose to break the bank, they could acquire Sidney Rice. Otherwise, don’t look for the Jags to sign a WR, they’ll probably let the players already on the roster duke it out.
OL – GM Gene has indicated that he thinks the line is pretty strong. Baldridge and Haslaam have both progressed and offer upside. The interior is older but might have some options in Estes and Vierling. Nwaneri is still relatively young and Rackley is young. The group probably sorts itself out without outside interference.
DT – None, unless Smith shows that he can’t contribute.
DE – While this might not be a strength, its also not a weakness. It is youth. The Jags played with three rookies, a former first round pick, a veteran star and a veteran journeyman last year and they did alright. The growth factor of the youth players is there and could definitely emerge this season. However, the pass rush was still one of the worst in the NFL. Look for the Jags to entertain signing another veteran FA. Charles Johnson, Mathias Kiwanuka or Ray Edwards could be major coups for the Jags.
LB – The biggest and most glaring need for the Jaguars currently. They have one starting LB (albeit a good one) in Daryl Smith. Justin Durant and Kirk Morrison are currently free agents. The speculation is that one of the two will probably be resigned, with the media leaning towards Morrison. Paul Posluszny offers a chance to significantly upgrade the interior. He’s the type of blue collared, high production guy that GM Gene loves. Barrett Ruud is also relatively young and could potentially upgrade in the interior. The linebacker talent in free agency lies at the outside position. There is a plethora of players to choose from. Thomas Howard, Quincy Black, James Anderson, Rocky McIntosh and Manny Lawson could all be potential targets. Expect the big signing to come in the group.
CB – Mathis is still serviceable, Cox is probably the best CB on the team, they have high hopes for Isaac, Wheatley could turn out to be a find. This position is loaded with players but could potentially sign another CB. Richard Marshall could be that guy. Eric Wright might be another target, but he had off the field issues before he was drafted and even now they could scare GM Gene away.
S – Safety is a known need and was addressed with a single draft pick in the 4th round, with Chris Prosinski. Prosinski has the skill set to potentially become the starting free safety for the Jags. Courtney Greene showed upside last year and could potentially be the starter for the Jaguars long term. However, the group is unproven and it needs to be upgraded. Look for Eric Weddle or Michael Huff. Look for help to be acquired at the FS position.
The safety and linebacker positions will see signings. The rest of the positions depend on price and availability.