JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t done in free agency yet.
Though the team signed six players this week -- including tight end Julius Thomas and right tackle Jermey Parnell -- general manager David Caldwell said the Jaguars will still be active. He said the team will be monitoring future roster cuts and examining those players, as well as the lower-tier players already on the market, to see if he can find any bargains.
The Jaguars still need to address the offensive line, linebacker, receiver and running back, though not all of those needs will be met in free agency. However, here are four players that may be good fits for the Jaguars:
WR Stevie Johnson: Caldwell said he wanted to sign a slot receiver if the right one became available. Johnson fits. Though it seems he’s been in the league for a long time, he’s only 28 years old. He has 336 catches for 4,267 yards (12.8 per catch) and had three 1,000-yard seasons in a row from 2010-12 with Buffalo. He caught only 35 passes in San Francisco’s run-heavy offense last season. The only downside is he’s one of the better free-agent receivers still available, and it may cost more than Caldwell is willing to pay to get him. For the right money, though, he’d be a good fit.
LB Ashlee Palmer: The team signed Dan Skuta this week to be the otto -- a strongside linebacker who can rush and drop into coverage -- and the 6-foot-1, 238-pound Palmer would fit as a backup there. He got extended playing time on defense in Detroit because of injuries. Palmer will never be more than an average linebacker, but he wouldn’t be counted on to play much there unless there are injuries. However, he is a very good special teams player, and the Jaguars are always looking to improve there. Plus, he runs well, and the Jaguars need to upgrade their speed at linebacker.
RB Stevan Ridley: Even though it’s a very good draft for running backs, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sign Ridley. He is coming off an ACL tear that he suffered last October, but he will be 10 months removed from the injury by the team the season begins, and that is the same amount of time it took for cornerback Aaron Colvin to recover and get on the field. Ridley has had some issues with ball security (nine fumbles, six lost) in his career, but he’s also a proven player. He has rushed for 2,963 yards in four seasons (including playoffs), and that includes 1,314 yards in 2012. He also has relatively low mileage, 649 carries, since he played in New England’s platoon running back system. Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon will likely be better players, but the Jaguars would have to invest high picks to get either one. Signing Ridley would allow the Jaguars to address other needs in the second and third rounds.
G Shelley Smith: The Miami Dolphins cut the 27-year-old Smith one year after signing him to a two-year, $5.5 million deal. He played in 11 games (three starts) last season at both right and left guard. The Jaguars need to add competition along the offensive line and the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Smith should be able to be signed for a reasonable amount. He could push left guard Zane Beadles, who didn’t play particularly well last season after signing a five-year, $30 million contract. At the very worst, he could add valuable veteran depth because right now the Jaguars only have three offensive linemen on the roster with more than three years of experience. One is Jermey Parnell, whom the team signed this week, and another is Sam Young, who isn’t likely to make the team anyway.