Last week the Jaguars signed four players: LB Geno Hayes, RB Justin Forsett, DT Roy Miller, and CB/S Alan Ball. Just like that the team filled holes at linebacker, back-up running back, defensive tackle, and depth in the secondary (it’s still looking barren back there). I’m a fan of all four signings, and I’m just not toting the company line. I believe that all four players have a lot of football left in them, and they were affordable.
The OT market seemed to be hinging on the Jake Long situation. Seeing as how he signed with St. Louis late last night, the next best tackles should be getting snagged up shortly. These names include Sebastian Vollmer, Eric Winston, and Andre Smith. Many here at B&T believe that the Jaguars should sign a RT in free agency. As great of a route as that would be, I believe this year’s class of rookie tackles is entirely too deep to ignore. We’re in a position to snag arguably the best tackle in the entire draft, Eric Fisher. If we don’t go tackle with our No. 2 pick, the class is deep enough where we could get DJ Fluker at 33 where some draft sites have Jacksonville taking the Alabama lineman.
I believe it would be much more feasible to sign a free agent corner. The 2013 free agent cornerback class is much deeper, and there’s plenty of solid DBs still available who should be much more affordable than any of the tackles remaining on the market. For instance, Sean Smith got the most of any cornerback and his $5.5 mil annual average doesn’t even put him in the league’s top 12 corners. The Jaguars could afford some of these cornerbacks.
So the way I’m looking at it: A deep class of rookie offensive tackles + an exclusive shallow group of free agent tackles that could actually come in and start + a deep class of free agent DBs + ( in comparison to rookie offensive tackles) a shallow group of rookie DBs=more free agent DBs could be signed.
Take a look at a talent like Brent Grimes. He’s coming off achilles surgery so it could be risky. He’s 29 and a little undersized for Gus Bradley’s and Dave Caldwell’s ideal signing. Caldwell is undoubtedly familiar with Grimes from his time in Atlanta. Grimes is a player we could possibly take a chance on while not breaking the bank to do so. There’s no one else on the roster who could challenge him for a starting role, that’s for sure.
Another talent that is interesting is Dallas Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins. He was a first round pick in 2008, and has a pro bowl under his belt. He’s young and talented, but fell by the wayside when Dallas overpaid Brandon Carr and drafted Morris Claiborne with the 6th overall pick last year. Jenkins has starting experience, and his market seems close to dead silent. I wonder if he’s on the radar.
I’m thinking there’s a good chance that we just re-sign FB Greg Jones and C Brad Meester and call it a day at that. That would leave holes at several different positions. Could we possibly fill all of them via the draft? No. No team ever fills every single gap in the roster. There’s always going to be soft spots. No NFL team has their roster locked and loaded with 53 premier players.
What Jacksonville has are glaring holes. Holes in the secondary and holes along the offensive line. The defensive line has soft spots, but there are players who can step in and start or rotate and develop. I’m referring to flat out holes. Who will play safety? Who will play cornerback for us? Who will our right tackle be?
Now this would usually send any fan into a panic, but not this guy. What’s been lost (Landry, Mathis, Cox, Ross, Robinson, Knighton) wasn’t really getting the job done anyway. I’d much rather give a draft pick and/or UDFAs a chance to battle it out at some of these spots.
Caldwell and Bradley have been straight up honest with us so far. We can count on having a young team, creating competition at every position. Spending too much in free agency automatically eliminates any competion for that said player. You pretty much buy them a starting spot. The front office must decide, however, if what’s left on the market regarding offensive tackles and defensive backs has better value than a rookie at those positions.
-David R. Johns