Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
There has been a lot of activity lately related to the Jacksonville Jaguars. As you learned in grade school, for every action there is a reaction. Because the Jags (and the NFL in general) have committed certain actions, it will definitely have an effect on future decisions and actions. Let’s go over a few actions that has taken place recently, and the way I feel the Jags will react down the road.
- The release of Uche Nwaneri will create a lot of ripples. First of all, it should send a message to the veterans on the team that, even with all the room the Jags have under the salary cap, no one is safe. The re-signing of OTs Cameron Bradfield and Sam Young shows they are setting up affordable and serviceable backups to address depth issues we have had the last couple of seasons.
- The re-signing of free agent TE Clay Harbor opens up the opportunity to release Marcedes Lewis. With diminishing skills and a huge salary cap obligation, this is the time to perform this mercy killing. The TE position can be addressed through the draft process with Harbor functioning as a stop-gap until the youngster accumulates the offensive system.
- The signing of free agent DE-DT hybrid Red Bryant is sure to cause some change. Because of his size (6-4, 323 lbs), he could line up next to Sen-Derrick Marks and stuff the middle in run defense. He can also line up at DE to control the run from the outside. It is a matchup advantage in the Gus Bradley defensive scheme that he refers to as an “elephant”. Bryant is 30 years old. You may wonder why Dave Caldwell stepped outside the less than five years of experience criteria the Jags have employed in free agent signing. It is because Bryant is a former player under Bradley at Seattle, he knows the defense and has executed it with much success. This was an educated signing. It opens up the opportunity for the Jags to cut some more salary (Tyson Alualu?), to have more money to bring back a player who was much more productive in the pass rush (Jason Babin?), and brings in a player who had been a team captain for the Seahawks the last couple of years. That’s the sign of a leader and that is something the Jags need.
- The signing of Chad Henne is so huge it truly can’t be completely calculated. Of course it helps us going into next year with an established NFL QB who knows the system, and was eager to return. It takes the pressure off the Jags to do what they need to with Blaine Gabbert. It aids Gabbert in that the pressure is truly off and he can buck up, show a little pride, and make this team as an experienced backup. The#3 pick in the draft is now truly open. You want to take a stud QB? We’ll have our pick of Bortles, Manziel, or Bridgewater. The pressure would be off the QB pick to feel they have to come in and immediately start. They can carry a clipboard, have time to learn the offense, and learn the new speed they will be facing in the NFL from the best vantage point…from the sideline wearing a backwards cap. Don’t feel you need one of the top three QBs? How about Jadeveon Clowney! One of the best rated pass rushers to come in the league in years could be available. Scared of perceived work ethic rumors about Clowney? Some team (Atlanta?) may be willing to trade up for Clowney. Cleveland may covet a remaining QB and be willing to relinquish a second rounder or even their extra 1st rounder to get the face of their franchise. We get more picks, something Dave Caldwell longs for, and we still might get a QB (Bridgewater?) or the elite WR (Sammy Watkins). The world right now is truly our oyster!
A few random thoughts and predictions…
- I truly feel if our #3 comes up and Clowney is still available, we will either take him and run, or we will orchestrate a mutually advantageous trade with the Falcons. We have their former Director of Player Personnel as our GM. They are coached by our former Defensive Coordinator. We will get the picks that our GM craves. They will get the elite DE that has even stated he would love to play for them. That is the definition of kismet.
- The Jaguars will look at free agent CB Alterraun Verner. He is just 5-10, which is a disadvantage. But he is just 25, with less than 5 years in the league. He has never missed a game in his 4 years in the league. He has played at a high level, reaching a peak with an all-pro season last year for the Titans. You would get a player who last year had 23 passes defended to go with 5 interceptions. We have never been in a better position salary cap-wise. We can afford him. You would bolster your CB play while weakening a division foe. WIN-WIN!!!!
- This will be the first year in possibly the Jaguars 19 year history that I believe free agents will want to consider Jacksonville. Despite our record, the league could see the direction this team is moving in and it is respected. The tax situation in the country is at it’s worse in many years. Players will start to recognise the advantages of a non-state taxed team. If you look at it rationally, Jacksonville is the most attractive Florida team. Tampa Bay is in disarray. Miami is looking bad to players with the whole “bullying” controversy. Most importantly, unlike Tom Coughlin (Hard ass), Jack Del Rio (played favorites and had no loyalty) and Michael Mularkey (WHO?), Gus Bradley is beloved by current and former players. He is highly respected by the media, fellow coaches, and fans. His time coaching the Senior bowl this offseason did nothing but expand the touch his positive nature makes. For the first time in years, I am truly proud of our team. Thanks Gus!
It is just after midnight, March the 10th as I’m writing this. Free agency officially opens in less than 24 hours!!! I feel like a kid on Christmas eve!!! Bring it on, Dave and Gus…You drive the bus…I’m just enjoying the ride!
Having a hard time sleeping out of excitement!!…Michael McDonald.
Tell me you thoughts on Twitter @gumbussy.