No, the Atlanta Falcons aren’t moving the Jacksonville. It sure seems that way though with the advent of Mike Mularkey and Bob Bratkowski.
Obviously I’m exaggerating a little bit, but when a new head coach is assembling his staff and team he tends to favor people he’s worked with and trusts. We’ve already seen evidence of that with the hire of Bratkowski – a long time friend and colleague of Mularkey.
So who else from Atlanta could be packing their bags for Jacksonville? Find out after the jump.
Although there seems to be a mass exodus of coaches in Atlanta I think we’re going to see Mularkey look elsewhere to fill out the other coaching vacancies on the team. There are already grumblings about Russ Grimm leaving the Cardinals to join the Jaguars and Keenan McCardell interviewing for the receivers coach. With several personnel needs however, we could see Mularkey in Gene Smith’s ear about some of his former players in Atlanta. Some of the possibilities include:
Harry Douglas, 3rd year reciever.
With the team’s obvious need at receiver, Harry Douglas has been a popular name floated around Jaguar blogs by fans. Falcfans.com has a pretty thorough scouting report on Douglas and he doesn’t seem to fit into the Jags’ needs. About the only receiver who seems to have a spot locked-down on the roster for 2012, despite a very disappointing 2011 (more on that in a later article), is Mike Thomas. Douglas is most effective in the slot where he can get the ball in space after a short route – almost identical to the role Mike Thomas is meant to fill. I think it’s significantly more likely that Gene will pursue a more prototypical outside receiver in free agency like Marques Colston or Vincent Jackson. With that said, it’s likely that the big name free agent receivers (Colston, Jackson, Bowe) will come at a steep price and Khan is going to have to open his deep pockets. Given his age and presumably low price tag, we could see Douglas in a Jags uniform next year as compliment to a bigger name.
Brent Grimes, 4th year cornerback.
Another pressing need for the Jaguars is at cornerback – Rashean Mathis is a free agent coming off of a serious knee injury and Derek Cox spent most of last year on the sideline. Grimes has improved every year since being drafted out of Shippensburg (a small school product, Gene’s favorite) and was considered the Falcon’s top corner before his injury. Due to his size (5′ 10″) he’s ideally a nickelback but he’ll be looking for starting corner money. Gene just signed Drew Coleman for the nickel spot, but if Grimes’ injury drives his price down (much like Rashean’s injury will drive his down) he might be a player of interest for the Jags.
Kelvin Hayden, 7th year cornerback.
Hayden appears to be a likely candidate as a stop-gap defensive player. Gene’s philosophy is to fill personnel needs during free agency so the draft can be purely determined by the best available player. He’s not a long-term solution at the corner spot, but Hayden can provide adequate play at the spot which allows the Jags to develop one of the numerous young corners they acquired this past season or take a raw prospect in the later rounds of the draft. Hayden has a more ideal size for an outside corner than Grimes, and he provides depth at a spot that was in dire need of it last year.
Another prominent Atlanta free agent is Curtis Lofton, but he is likely to go a team where he will be a starting linebacker. John Abraham will also be available, but his age will probably keep the Jags away. In reference to the defensive free agents, it’s unlikely that Mularkey’s presence will entice them to come to Jacksonville, but Mularkey could provide some insight on the players for Gene and the other personnel directors.
Obviously there are several other free agents the team will have their eye on, but some of these former Falcons could find their way to Jacksonville if the price is right.