3 plans to fix the pass rush of the Jaguars via free agency


[Editor note: I am reposting this article because over the last week the Jaguars have moved on the defensive line front. Zoltan was on it a week ago. It is worth rereading!]

Well in the last couple of weeks I wrote about candidates who might be targets for the Jaguars in the first round. None of the 3 candidates convinced me they were worthy to be  a top 10 caliber guy. Luckily there are other ways to improve the pass rush, for example free agency which will  kick off in high gear this weekend!

Well I know what you thinking; free agency? The Jaguars  declared they are building this team via draft pick and UDFAs. They only want to be participating in a limited role in this period. Well that is most likely the case but I suspect they will try to improve the DE position a bit in free agency. Based on the things I heard (and what Florida Times Union reporter and Black&Teal reader Michael C Wright shared-among others-with me) I have 3 scenarios about how the Jaguars might trying to improve a bit on the position via free agency!

Plan A:
Resigning Reggie Hayward which to me is the most welcomed scenario. He is the best pass rusher on the Jaguars (Hey; remember how he sacked Peyton Manning; who was pancaked only 10 times in the regular season! That is speaks for itself.) Reggie is a locker room leader and his talent and presence are needed and welcomed in the Gene Smith era. If the Jaguars can resign him, he can be much more than the insurance policy player that Tra Thomas was in the LT position or Torry Holt was for the WRs. I think there is enough fuel in Reggie’s tank for 2-3 seasons at a high level. With Reggie on the roster, the Jaguars don’t need to be in a hurry during the draft to find a DE in the 1st round (not to mention that I think there are NO DE’s who are worth to be picked with that 10th… ). They can target a guy like Austen Lane (no coincidence that I mentioned him; not at all…) in the 3rd round; and can pick the BAP in the 1st. That would be the ideal scenario for the Jaguars in my opinion.

Plan B:
If the front office and Reggie cannot workout a deal which is good for both sides, there are 2 plans. The 1st is a bit opposite to what I wrote about the Jaguars free agency spending policy. Because if Reggie wants to test the free agency, then the Jaguars must make a move for a veteran DE who can rush the passer, preferably one who can still can play. In the last weeks I found 2 players who have names (I have heard about them many times watching the NFL)  and might still have the ability to be a force for us. These 2 gentlemen are Kyle Vanden Bosch and Aaron Kampman.

KVD is a player every Jaguars fan knows; who covered the team in the last years. Now the problem is with Vanden Bosch is he had a bad year in 2009 with only 3 sacks. It seems he lost a bit of his power and the departure of Albert Haynesworth has also had impact on him.  He might come at a price which may be ideal for the Jaguars (with a wise deal like Tra Thomas and Torry Holt got in ’09). But for example experts like Peter King; believes he might be going to Detroit to reunite with current Lions head coach and former Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

What about Kampman?  He registered 38 sacks between ’06-’08 but had serious problems with the new 3-4 system in ’09. Plus he is coming off from a torn ACL which is always a big risk, although he said he will be ready for the start for training camp. So these factors might lower the price you need to pay for him. But the problem is he is still good enough player to receive multiple offers from teams which will raise his price so high the Jaguars might not want to pay for. I think Vanden Bosch is over the hill; and Kampman might be too expensive to sign here; but if  the Jags reach a deal with Kampman; Gene Smith can be patient drafting to the position in April.

Plan C:
That plan is simple, sign Jared DeVries. Jared Who? He was a defensive end for the Detroit Lions over the last 11 seasons. He was a 3rd round draft pick in ’99 and played in 120 games recording 16.5 sacks and 164 tackles. He didn’t play in 2009 and was released by the Lions on February 23rd. So why would the Jaguars target him? There are 2 reason; he spent 4 seasons under the hands of current Jaguars D-line coach Joe Cullen; and he can be easily signed by a Sean Considine-type of salary. To be honest with you I think he deliver little if any help to the Jaguars in the pass rush. I think if the Jaguars cannot reach a deal with either Hayward or the Kampman/KVB duo then I think Gene simply CANNOT BE patient!  He must pick a DE in the 1st round or trading up to the 2nd to grab one. Because without Hayward or Kampman you have the same DEs who did almost nothing in pass rush all of the ’09 season. During the draft, Gene needs to find a player who is a major boost in the position very very early. And that will mean you might pay very high price (top 10 price to be exact) for a pass rusher who maybe doesn’t deserve that amount of money just yet. (By the way DeVries can come even if the Jaguars sign Reggie Hayward too. As I mentioned I don’t consider he will be a very high priced free agent; so he can come even with Plan A is succeed)

Bottom line is- The Jaguars need to upgrade the pass rush. I think with the resigning of Reggie and 1-2 player via the draft might be enough to see moderate progress. I think going after a pricey DE  in free agency is not a likely scenario. So in my opinion, the Jaguars MUST extend Hayward. It will cost less money than a player like Kampman and give time to the young players (Harvey; Groves; and the new DEs via draft and possible UDFA) to develop themselves in the NFL. Or in Harvey’s and Groves case decide if they are really big busts or there is a chance they –specially Harvey-  are the players the Jaguars expected when they drafted them. Sooner than later we will know about A; B; or C; which is the correct answer at the DE position in 2010.

– Zoltan Paksa

[Terry’s take: Wow, I feel like Gene after reading this article. Every possible combination is there and we will know soon. Zoltan has opened up communications from Hungary with key people in Jacksonville to research this article. I appreciate it.  I do, however, have one issue with him. Derrick Harvey is not a bust. I will write that article this week. If Reggie Heyward were chasing the QB from one side, he would chase him right into Derrick Harvey. Watch and see how Derrick looks when someone else can get pressure. Other than that – THANK YOU Zoltan!]