The Jacksonville Jaguars are transitioning away from an era of failure. New GM Dave Caldwell is looking to bring in new talent and build a winning roster that can win a Super Bowl. He is looking for some homerun hitters to complement a core base of players. As free agency nears, a number of players who were important in years past may no longer be with the team. Among those names are cornerback Derek Cox and linebacker Daryl Smith.
Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union writes, “It appears likely that they will lose starting cornerback Derek Cox and linebacker Daryl Smith, the team’s all-time leading tackler.” Unfortunately, I see this as likely as well. It is particularly unfortunate in the case of Smith.
Cox is considered a very good corner on the verge of shutdown status, when he’s on the field. Cox has only played in 73% of games since he was drafted by the team in the third round of the 2009 draft. He hasn’t played in a full season since his rookie year when he showed that he can be a reliable starting cornerback. Due to his talent, his agent anticipates a vigorous market for Cox. The Jaguars, looking for the right value in every player as they overhaul the roster, will likely shy away from paying Cox too much money.
Smith will be a major loss if he leaves in free agency. The stud linebacker was a second round pick in the 2004 draft and didn’t play in only four games from 2004-2011. Then 2012 happened and he only appeared in the final two contests. While injury likely won’t be the primary concern keeping the Jaguars from making a competitive play for Smith, combine with his age the team may think it’s the right time to move on. Smith is the heart and soul of the defense but if he can’t be brought back in at a reasonable contract level, the Jags will find many cheaper options.
Despite a poor defensive showing in 2012, the team may lose two of their most talented players in free agency. Transition times for NFL teams can often result in big changes like this. It would be sad to see Cox and Smith leave in free agency, but it will be very tough for the Jags to bring them back and focus on finding other pieces to overhaul the rest of the roster as well.
– Luke N. Sims
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