The 2013 season for the Jacksonville Jaguars is officially in the books. The playoffs have started, and all eyes for the teams that didn’t make the postseason have turned towards free agency and more importantly, the draft.
Our very own Michael McDonald has begun to break down draft needs. Feel free to visit his analysis on QB, RB, WR, TE, OL and even ST.
I will most certainly join in on the fun, but before I do anything of the sort, I will first do what David Caldwell did last January: analyze the current roster. This starts with our own free agents.
There are a number of free agents on the Jaguars’ roster at this time. The highest impact free agents in my opinion are as follows:
- Chad Henne, QB: Everyone is pretty down on Chad Henne. I am down on Henne only as the starting QB playing 16 games. As a cheap backup QB who knows the system and can step up in a pinch and operate the offense for a game or two? I don’t see anything wrong with re-signing him to a team-friendly deal. Other free agent QBs set to hit the open market are Michael Vick, Josh Freeman, Josh McCown just to name a few. Do you like any of them better? The Jaguars will most definitely draft a young QB this year. Do we roll with 2013 UDFA Matt Scott who spent all year on the practice squad as the second QB? Or do we solidify the backup spot by keeping Henne? I’m for keeping him.
- Jordan Todman, RB: I’m all for keeping this guy, and I believe that there are others out there who feel the same. This is a guy who joined the team late in 2012, came to camp in 2013, had a solid preseason, and absolutely showed moments of promise during the season. None of these moments were as clear as his week 14 matchup against Buffalo where he rushed for over 100 yards. Could Todman be the next lead back for the Jaguars? Doubt it. Could he be a nice complimentary change-of-pace back? Definitely.
- Cameron Bradfield (LT) and Austin Pasztor (RT): I lump these two guys together because they were both kind of just thrown into the fire with one another. Eugene Monroe was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for more draft picks (yay!), moving 2013 1st round pick Luke Joeckel to the blind side and thrusting swing tackle Bradfield into the starting right tackle position. BOOM. Joeckel goes down that very week. Bradfield moves to LT and Pasztor was thrust into the starting lineup at RT. Not really the bookend tackle tandem we all salivated over last spring, but ya know what? They both had their moments. There were struggles, but considering Bradfield was a 2011 UDFA from Grand Valley State, and that Austin Pasztor got his start in the CFL playing primarily guard, it really and truly could have been much, much worse. So does Bradfield stay on as a swing tackle and could Pasztor be the starting right tackle in 2014 opposite a healthy Luke Joeckel? Well, it really depends on who Jags brass brings in, but the two could certainly find themselves in camp.
- Ryan Davis, DE: What a ride it’s been for Ryan Davis. He came to the team in 2012 as a UDFA from Bethune-Cookman, and immediately garnered recognition among the fan base for his play in college. It was obvious Davis was talented, but he simply wasn’t ready. He’s spent all of his time on the practice squad until this season, being activated from the practice squad week 11. Week 12, Davis made one of the plays of the year with an incredible interception of Case Keenum to seal the win for Jacksonville. He ended the year with 4 tackles, one sack and one interception, and became a key rotational player for the Jaguars. For a team that is looking for any kind of spark in the pressure department, I can see Davis coming back.
- Mike Brown, WR: Brown was given a fantastic opportunity this season. Justin Blackmon was pretty much suspended the entire year, save for the few games he played after his 4 game suspension to kick of the season. Brown was a guy the Jaguars were high on in camp. He came to the team as a workout player in 2012 from Liberty, where he played QB. Brown had somewhat of a breakout game, if you can call a 24-6 home loss to the Chargers a breakout game, catching 5 balls on 8 targets for over 120 yards. Since that game, however, he seemed a bit inconsistent. He scored a TD in the London game against San Fran and in week 15 against the Titans, but really didn’t show up in the big way that the Jaguars needed. He ended the season with 32 receptions, 446 yards and 2 TDs. Not wide receiver 1 production, but not bad either considering how badly the Jaguars offense struggled at times this season. Brown could be back, but if he isn’t, I won’t be surprised.
- Will Blackmon, CB: Blackmon made one of the most exciting plays on the season when he stripped Ryan Fitzpatrick with 3 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter and returned the fumble for a touchdown, sealing the Jaguars first win of the season. He ended the season with 40 tackles, 2 FF and 1 interception. As good as Blackmon was at times, I don’t see him coming back in 2014. This team is still trying to get younger, and Blackmon is a 7 year vet. Young players such as 2013 3rd rounder Dwayne Gratz, 2012 6th rounder Mike Harris and 2013 7th round rookies Demetrius McCray and Jeremy Harris (spent 2013 on I.R.) should be ready for more time, not to mention Alan Ball quietly having the best season of his pro career. I just don’t see any room for Blackmon in the Jaguars’ future.
- Maurice Jones-Drew, RB: Jones-Drew, thank you for everything you’ve done for this franchise. In 2011, Jones-Drew lead the league in rushing. In 2012, he spent most of his time on I.R.. This year, Jones-Drew was heavily involved in the offense. He was the bell cow, and honestly, he didn’t quite look like himself. Whether it was the offensive line, declining ability, we won’t know until he signs with a new team this offseason because he will not be back with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. Bottom line: he wants more money than Caldwell is willing to offer and he’s a 28 year old running back. Don’t get me wrong, I hope he goes elsewhere, gets paid a ton of money and has a great finish to a great career. I just don’t see how Caldwell could cripple the future and break the bank on him. It’s simply too risky.
Those are the free agents on which I’ve chosen to focus. There are others. Allen Reisner, Brandon Deadrick, Will Ta’ufo’ou all pose decisions, but the ones listed will have the biggest impact on how Caldwell and company approach signing new free agents and of course, the all important draft.
The best part about re-signing these players? It’s team-friendly and affordable of course.
-David R. Johns