The Jacksonville Jaguars have a plethora of needs on their roster, and coincidentally enough they have an enviable amount of cap space available to fill those holes. General manager David Caldwell clearly believes in building through the draft, but in his short tenure in Jacksonville he has shown the willingness to take a shot at young, ascending players in free agency. Arguably the most ideal fit for the Jaguars in this year’s free agent crop was defensive end Greg Hardy, but he was reportedly just slapped with the franchise tag. With the top pass rusher off the market, who are the guys left who might be a fit in Jacksonville?
Brian Orakpo is probably the top ranked guy slated to hit the market now that Greg Hardy is tagged. Orakpo is a beast in the weight room and has put up a solid 39.5 sacks since being drafted in 2009. Without a doubt their best defensive player, it’s hard to believe the Redskins are just going to let him walk away.
Michael Johnson has been second fiddle to Carlos Dunlap in Cincinnati, and the Bengals clearly agreed when they decided to pay Dunlap instead of him. Johnson had a down year after putting up 11.5 sacks in 2012, but he would present a significant upgrade for the Jaguars.
Michael Bennett has been very productive since coming into the league in 2009, and he was an integral part of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks defense in 2013. Bennett recently made some comments not giving a hometown discount to Seattle, and it sounds like he wants a big payday this offseason.
Lamarr Houston was one of the few highlights for the Oakland Raiders over the last few seasons, and he’s proven himself to be a useful player on the defensive line. He’s been most effective primarily as a run defender, but he did have a career high 6 sacks in 2013. He also is only 26 years old, which is the prime age to nab a free agent.
Everson Griffen is my “favorite” as far as free agent candidates who are good fits for Jacksonville. Griffen has been fairly productive in Minnesota since being drafted in 2009, and his 17.5 sacks in that span is more than anyone has produced in Jacksonville. Griffen has outstanding speed for the position and would be an intriguing fit for the much talked about LEO position.
The Jaguars should have a few options in free agency when that period finally begins, but the crop is definitely going to thin out as more players get tagged and resigned.
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