My plan for the Jacksonville Jaguars as we approach the start of the 2013 NFL calendar year:
Finances: The Jaguars have about $24 million in salary-cap room, so they don’t have a huge issue. But they are carrying several contracts that are too hefty. Laurent Robinson is overpaid, but a year into his deal they are unlikely to bail. Tight end Marcedes Lewis and guard Uche Nwaneri are too costly, both due base salaries of more than $4 million this season. Linebacker Paul Posluszny ($6.5 million base), Dawan Landry ($5.4 million) and cornerback Aaron Ross ($3.75 million) are also costly. I’d make no money moves until my coaches have time with the team on the field for a thorough assessment and see some of the alternatives brought in.
Continuity: Re-sign outside linebacker Daryl Smith. He’s been a very solid player for the franchise, and because he was hurt for 14 games last year, his price is going to be discounted. Re-sign cornerback Derek Cox, ideally to an incentive-laden deal tied to his availability. Hope he’ll give you a chance to match if someone else gives him a better offer. He’s a great player but it’s hard to invest in a guy who misses so much time.
Turnover: Allow the rest of the free-agent class to hit the market and wish it well. If a player like defensive tackle Terrance Knighton or fullback Greg Jones doesn’t find what he wants out there and remains available later, consider an offer down the road.
Additions: I’d shop more aggressively than I expect the Jaguars will based on how they’ve spoken about free agency, but I will try to stick to their parameters here. Seattle defensive tackle Alan Branch was a key piece of the defense Gus Bradley ran for the Seahawks, and new coaches typically like bringing in a guy or two who know how they will operate. I want to make at least one statement signing that addresses a big area of concern. If Sebastian Vollmer’s back checks out, he’d be my guy. He’s a top right tackle who’s been part of a successful franchise in New England. From there, I’d pursue a few more affordable types: one of two cornerbacks, Greg Toler from Arizona or Bradley Fletcher of St. Louis and a defensive end who’s still young and has some versatility, St. Louis’ William Hayes.
Draft: The No. 2 spot is a toughie, because clear choices at the top of this draft have not emerged. There is defensive line talent, however, and the pass rush is a longstanding issue the new regime is inheriting. That first pick needs to be able to rush the passer or be a long-term fixture on the offensive line. Needs are so wide ranging, there are few spots the Jaguars need to avoid. Although I'm not happy with the quarterback situation, I would not feel I had to have one unless I felt I saw a real value in the second or third round.