The good news for Jacksonville is that when it comes to free agency, money is not an issue. The team has around $50 million dollars to spend, which is actually the second highest cap space in the league right behind Oakland. With that being said, they should be able to make a little bit of a splash. But will they be able to?
As for what they need to go after, there are two areas that the Jaguars absolutely have to attack: the pass rush and the interior offensive line.
Priority #1 is to get that edge pass rusher. I think they'll target Michael Bennett from Seattle if he hits the open market on March 11th but there’s no guarantee the Seahawks won’t lock him up. With that being said, I think Oakland’s Lamarr Houston is worth mentioning. He fits their scheme and he’s only 27 years old; but most importantly, he can play both end and tackle.
Jacksonville has had issues all along the defensive line. Roy Miller dealt with injuries all season, Jeremy Mincey is gone, Andre Branch came along toward the end of the season but has mostly struggled through out the course of his young career. Other than Sen’Derrik Marks, the defensive line has been mediocre at best. Jason Babin and Tyson Alualau haven’t really worked out as pass rushers. The Jags have been the worst in the league for several seasons now at putting pressure on and getting to the quarterback. (They had 31 sacks this past year and only 20 the season before.) So to add a guy like Houston, whose size and speed make him a legitimate threat at the point of attack, would be a nice addition.
The second priority is the interior offensive line. Let’s start with the center position. We know that Brad Meester has retired so ideally you’d love to see them get a guy like Alex Mack to replace him. Unfortunately, he may be out of the Jaguars’ price range and personally, I don’t think he’s going to get out of Cleveland. They may be ok with going with Jacque McClendon at center, who’s already on the team so maybe they feel ok about the position. Because of that, I think guard is going to be a bigger priority than center. Zane Beadles would certainly fit what they’re looking for (under 30, a starter, and healthy) so I could see them going after him.
Whatever the Jags do, look for them to try and sign at least one or two guys who can start immediately on the first day of free agency. Whether or not Jacksonville makes “splashy” moves or signs big name guys, if they add players that can help improve the team, then they’ve accomplished their goal.
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