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Looking Forward to Free Agency

Mar 04, 2015 -- 10:22am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

I for one will be thrilled when this NFL free agency begins and ends. The constant rumors, opinions and theories on player landing spots and how much money it will take to spend to reel in these huge fishes is enough to make your head spin on a swivel

Frankly, I’d like it to slow down.

If you read cheats sheets, ESPN.com, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and any website dedicated to NFL news, the Jaguars hold the majority of the cards, having the most money to spend in an “overpay now, worry later” league. To take it a step further, it’s a league where a middle of the road linebacker will command millions to make seven tackles on the season and claim he is underpaid. This might be my attempt at humor, but it is all too true and an all too familiar situation. This is how the NFL works today.

I saw a website conversation a few days again that referred to Jags general manager Dave Caldwell and the fact he does not like free agency, but it is necessary in today’s market. Whether that is a true statement or not, Caldwell has a chance to be the big winner starting Sept. 10 and the savior of this franchise. With more than $68 million to spend, it seems everyone thinks every top free agent is headed to north Florida. In reality, that will not happen, but for now, according to sources all over the Internet, the Jaguars will sign Ndamukong Suh, Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga, Julius Thomas, DeMarco Murray, Brian Orapko, Devin McCourty and Patriots fourth tight end on the practice squad. I am sure Shane Falco and Johnny Utah have been given a call to gauge their availability and see if they can challenge Blake Bortles. Again, another crack at humor.

I am just trying to make a point at how all this is as ridiculous as both Hacker and I growing to be six feet tall.

Realistically, the Jaguars will kick the tired on most, maybe all of these players and then the bidding wars begin. Oakland and Atlanta will be major players. The Cowboys have major decisions to make. The Raiders, Browns, Jets and Colts all have major money to spend and figure to be just as active as our Jaguars. All four of them could be more attractive to players based on the sales pitch.

Personally, sunny weather, great golfing and no state tax would be the clincher for me, but money talks as well all know.

I am sure by the time you all read this blog and formulate your own conclusions about free agency, another 50 stories will be written across the web about the Jaguars targeting another player to sign who will “change the culture of this franchise.” Then again, maybe there will be some player who demands to sign with our team, which would a great “get” for Jacksonville. But until then, we sit, wait another week and let the rumors and conjecture reach all time levels. I cannot wait until this is over. In the meantime, can someone please find me the aspirin? My head cannot stop spinning.

Can Jags Sign Ndamukong Suh?

Mar 02, 2015 -- 9:49am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

Do the Jacksonville Jaguars really have a chance at landing Ndamukong Suh?

Now that free agency is eight days away, the Jaguars have about $65 million in cap space and the message boards, football websites and media across the country are starting to talk about it, maybe we should discuss it as well.

Does this really happen, or is it a real possibility? Personally, I don’t think so. But in this world of free agency and the NFL and the almighty dollar, stranger things have happened. So, is it possible? Yes.

The Jaguars are in an odd position with NFL free agency. A team with a 3-13 record is not supposed to be as exciting as this team is – full of promise and new plans for stadium improvements and an owner who wants to change the face of this city. How can any player not be interested in playing for a team like that? Add the “rah rah” mentality of Gus Bradley and the sales pitch is more than impressive.

As it was written in the Detroit Free Press, it makes sense because, “No team has more money to spend than Jacksonville, the Jaguars are looking for an anchor to build their defense around, and Suh would be a scheme fit. Florida doesn't have state income tax, which would save a few bucks over the life of a $100-million deal, and Shad Khan is the most global-thinking owner in the league.”

It’s pretty good to see our team get the respect it deserves by stating the obvious.

The reason why this does not work is also obvious – a 3-13 record after a 4-12 record and the season before a 2-14 record. Given those numbers and the history of other franchises (see Oakland, see Atlanta) regardless of their team records and another location may be more appealing. For me, Suh is a player who, based on his personality on the field, has Raiders or Cowboys written all over him. He is a mammoth talent and fits the defensive scheme Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich are building here. But the reality is for all that talent, headaches do come with it. The team has built a reputation of strong character, as evident in the story by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on newly released defensive back Will Blackmon. Can the team, who is still working on Justin Blackmon and his reinstatement, deal with potential on-field issues with Suh?

The Jaguars are also said to be interested in tight end Julius Thomas, possibly defensive end Justin Houston and wide receiver Randall Cobb. Any one of those players or any combination of them makes this team a contender in the AFC South. Signing none of them shows everyone what I am talking about. Suh would be an awesome building block, if the team can sign him and deal with the potential issues. In this day of the NFL, money does talk. I just wonder if these players, with Suh in particular, are willing to listen.

Brian Simmons named AFC Scout of the Year

Feb 24, 2015 -- 1:41pm

Jacksonville Jaguars college scout Brian Simmons was honored last week in Indianapolis by the Fritz Pollard Alliance as the AFC Scout of the Year.  Simmons received the award at the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s annual ceremony at the NFL Scouting Combine.

 

Simmons is in his seventh season with the Jaguars after being named a regional scout for the club on June 1, 2009.  He currently scouts the Northeast region of the country.  He played 10 years in the NFL after being selected with the 17th overall pick in the 1998 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.  Simmons was with the Bengals for nine seasons (1998-2006) before finishing his career with the New Orleans Saints in 2007. 

 

“I am honored to receive this award from the Fritz Pollard Alliance” Simmons said.  “I love the game of football and what it has done so much for me.  I have been fortunate to work with some great people that helped me along the way.  I can’t thank Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley enough for setting up an environment inside our building where it’s okay to have a strong opinion and your opinion will be respected.”

 

“The Fritz Pollard Alliance has done so many great things and provided opportunities for so many talented people in the scouting, coaching and front offices of the NFL,” Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said. “It’s even more special for them to honor someone I have a lot of respect for in Brian Simmons.  Brian had a productive 10-year career in the NFL and his love of the game pushed him to pursue a career in scouting following his playing days.  We are glad he chose this route.  He has quickly moved up the ranks and that is a credit to his hard work, discipline, knowledge of the game, and his ability to find talent.”

 

Simmons attended the University of North Carolina where he was a four-year letterman and a first-team All-America selection as a senior.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1998, the same year he was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor.

Leonard Williams a "No Brainer" Decision for Jaguars

Feb 23, 2015 -- 10:22am

At 11 in the morning on Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars saw their future. It stood 6’5” tall and weighed in at 302 pounds and ran a 40-yard dash in a sleek 5.0 seconds. Despite the fact he has a slight resemblance to Jimi Hendrix with bad hair, the Jaguars brass shouldn’t care what Leonard Williams looks like as long as he can pressure the quarterback and help stop the run.

All the analysts did this past weekend is compare Williams to both Richard Seymour and JJ Watt, the player that got away from the Jaguars because they believed (actually Gene Smith believed) that some guy named Blaine Gabbert was a better prospect than Watt or even Ryan Kerrigan.

Kerrigan was picked with the selection Jacksonville traded for. Watt is the best defensive player in the league.

The Jaguars deserve better. They need Williams and should obtain him at any cost. Instead of trying to trade back in the draft, why not trade forward? Let’s see Jacksonville be the hunter, not the hunted.

Tennessee holds the second overall pick in this draft and are said to be ready to hand the keys to the offense to Zach Mettenberger and are looking to possibly make Williams their choice, with the Buccaneers making Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota the top overall selection.  A conversation between Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and the Titans’ Ruston Webster. Maybe a third round pick is offered to swap spots and make both teams happy. I get the feeling the Titans are going to be major players on Draft Day and they will wheel and deal to help the team.

The Jaguars should be major players in free agency and maybe a major player on Draft Day, but Williams should be their primary choice.

Back in 1983, the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks swapped picks so the Rams had the second pick in the Draft to grab Eric Dickerson. The Seahawks grabbed Curt Warner. While Dickerson was out of this world, Warner had a solid career as well. This could be the same kind of situation.

I’m not sure if Williams is the JJ Watt-type of player everyone says he is. Scouts and the media are took quick to draw comparisons. Time and experience make those kinds of comments. The Jaguars’ defense was good but not great and still had some major holes to be plugged. Like I said free agency could help the secondary and linebacking units. The line will be solved by drafting the best player available.

Dante Fowler, Jr. is a solid pick, but not the pass rusher that teams game plan for. Vic Beasley is more of an outside linebacker and Randy Gregory is lighter than some running backs. Williams is the surest thing the Draft has in terms of a defensive star. This should be a no-brainer.

Talking about this is easy. Offering a plan to make it happen is simple. Watching the Jaguars actually put that plan into action? That takes some chutzpah. I’m just hoping the thought has come across the minds of this team’s brain trust a time or two and have thought strongly about putting it the plan in action. That shows they wouldn’t want a player, should he be as good as Watt or Seymour, get away from this franchise again. The Jaguars cannot let the better man get away twice.

Jaguars Make Roster Move

Feb 20, 2015 -- 3:48pm

The Jacksonville Jaguars have announced the signing of second-year offensive tackle Brennan Williams to the team’s 90-man roster.

 

Williams, 6-6, 314 pounds, was originally a third round selection (89th overall) by the Houston Texans in the 2013 NFL Draft. Williams was placed on injured reserve following a knee injury suffered during training camp in 2013. Williams was not on a roster during the 2014 season.

 

Williams was a four-year letterman at North Carolina, where he started 21 games at right tackle and was named an All-ACC honorable mention as a senior in 2012. Williams registered 108 knockdowns and 15 touchdown-resulting blocks during his career in Chapel Hill.

 

Williams attended Catholic Memorial (Roxbury, Mass.) High School where he played for coach Alex Campia and was an All-Scholastic selection by the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. Williams’ father, Brent, played in the NFL from 1986-1993 with the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets as a defensive end. 

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