With the loss to Buffalo Sunday, the Jaguars improbable playoff dreams came to an end. This is when a franchise will truly start looking to next year, because really that’s all they have now. The Jaguars have already started making moves to prepare for next year.
The last few days have seen the Jags shutdown multiple players for the year with injured reserve statuses. Here are the players and how I expect the Jags will move forward.
Cecil Shorts III – The Jags best receiver. Some can contend it’s Justin Blackmon but if you’re never on the field, how good are you to the team. Shorts will enter 2014 as the Jags #1 receiver. The 3rd year pro has earned it. The Jags will have to think about Shorts & his value to the team. He will be entering the last year of his rookie contract & will be expecting to get paid. I personally hope the Jags go ahead give Shorts an extension. He has worked hard for all he has given us. There is also no ego more easily hurt then a NFL wide receiver, so let’s not go through an ugly contract negotiation.
Will Rackley – Starting offensive left guard. Similar to Shorts, Rackley is a 3rd year player on the last year of his rookie contract. This one is a little more complicated. When Rackley has played, he has been serviceable. One issue is how often he has been hurt. He will have missed 22 games over his first 3 years, including the entire 2012 season. The other issue is that this year was ended early because of chronic concussion symptoms. That is a scary diagnosis these days because concussions get easier and easier to get. I would bring Rackley in next year but also bring in a few guards via draft and free agency. If you can get a replacement that’s just as good but cheaper, without concussion issues, I would consider trading or releasing Rackley.
Justin Forsett – Backup running back. Rarely saw the field. Hurt most of the preseason. Inactive some games. Healthy no-plays in others. Finally got chance to play with MJD hurt and immediately got season ending foot injury. Making much more money than he delivered. Especially now with Jordan Todman showing he’s able to handle NFL defenses, Forsett shouldn’t be brought back.
Russell Allen – Starting outside linebacker. Reserve player who did his job ,special teams and an occasional package play, until the Jags handed him the starting position. He responded well, including one of only three 200+ tackle seasons in Jaguar history. Seemingly took a step back statistically this year but was still very good. The only issue I see is Allen causes a 2.4million plus salary cap hit next year. That’s well above the Jags salary range, as will the fact he will be hitting his 6th year. I really like Allen and would love to keep him but if another OLB is drafted that can play close to his production at even half the price, Allen could be a salary cap casualty.
Other IR players definitely returning next year – Luke Joeckel (rookie LT), Jeremy Harris (rookie CB), Stephane Milhim (rookie OG), and Mike Brewster (2nd year OG/C).
IR Players that likely won’t return – Stephen Burton (3rd year WR), Taylor Price (4th year WR), and Stephen Williams (3rd year WR).
The Jaguars are building towards something special. As any contractor knows, you have to put in the work and stick to the plan. There will be another large amount of players brought in next year to stimulate Gus Bradley & Dave Caldwell’s desire for “Competition”. How many of the above players make this squad next year might depend on the play of their replacements over these last two games. All backup players need is playing time, and they are going to get it over the next two weeks. That gives us all reason to watch these “Meaningless games”. I know I will be watching intensely.
Article and opinions completely formulated by Michael McDonald
What’s your problem, MAN…let me know on Twitter @Gumbussy!