Jags Might Not Be Spendthrifts
Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said a few weeks ago that the team "likely wouldn't spend like they did last offseason." Although this message contradicts what new owner Shad Khan stated in his opening address, there is reason for optimism among the Jaguars fan base.
With the 22 Franchise Tags that were doled out, what once looked like a promising free agent pool has been significantly decreased in terms of talent, especially at the Jaguars positions of need. With Gene Smith being on the inside and seeing what was likely to occur, his statement basically says that the team isn't going to throw good money at mediocre players.
Texans free agent defensive end Mario Williams is "the man" in terms of not only defensive players but all free agents. Our sources say that the Jaguars will indeed make a valiant effort in trying to acquire the former first-overall pick. Williams would give the team their best pass rusher in the history of the franchise.
Some of the other chatter we've heard in terms of potential Jaguars free agent interests are wide receivers Josh Morgan and Laurent Robinson, defensive backs Tracy Porter and Brandon Carr and right tackle Kareem McKenzie.
Although that list of players, aside from Williams won't make Jaguars fans rush to the ticket windows, they would represent solid upgrades to make what Gene Smith hopes is an ascending team that much better.
A Wanted Man
We can't confirm that Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey and his agent indeed jumped for joy when the team opted to place the franchise tag on kicker Josh Scobee, but a leap would have been warranted.
Mincey is a hot commodity among the free agent class as he is coming off a career high 8.5 sacks in 2011. What will ultimately help Mincey's wallet immensely will be the franchise tags doled out to Arizona's Calais Campbell and Detroit's Cliff Avril. Mincey is the second-best available free agent at his position behind Texans Pro Bowler Mario Williams.
If the Jaguars are going to be in the running to retain Mincey's services they are going to have to come strong(er) as their initial efforts were "insulting," according to a league source. We have learned that the Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears will both try to acquire the high-motor Jaguar.
Blackmon Won't Go 7th
With the Jaguars desperately searching for help at wide receiver, the team has been rumored to be interested in Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon. For much of the past few months, Blackmon was expected to go in the first five selections but as the draft nears, the former Cowboy's stock is falling.
Blackmon measured in at just under 6-foot-1 at the NFL Combine and he ran most of the drills- except the 40-yard dash. Shorter than expected, the two-time Biletnikoff Award Winner needs to show legitimate speed to be a top selection in this draft and opting out of the 40 time usually means that the player has something to hide.
"It's a definite red flag," a league source said of Blackmon abstaining from the 40. "It shows that he's either trying to hide his speed or he's not competitive. Either way it isn't a very good thing."
Our sources inside Jacksonville Municipal Stadium say that Blackmon is a fine player but it takes a legitimately great player to go in the Top 10, especially at wide receiver. Our sources haven't ruled out Justin Blackmon as the Jaguars first-round pick, but it would likely only happen if the team was able to trade back.
Jags Need A Good Pro Day from Tannehill
The Jaguars are linked to Texas A & M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but not because they are going to select him in the first round. For better or worse, the Jaguars are married to 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert at least for 2012, so there will be no quarterback selected by the team early.
So why is it important for Tannehill to work out well?
If a team like Seattle falls in love with Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins do not pluck Matt Flynn out of free agency, the Jaguars can be perfect trading partners for a team looking to get ahead of Miami.
Other trade up/back options could revolve around Alabama running back Trent Richardson. If the Dolphins do get their signal caller in free agency, they will strongly consider Richardson with the eighth-overall draft pick. Since the Alabama runner could be a transcendent talent at the position, teams may look once again to get ahead of the Dolphins as they try to secure the talented back.
-The Jaguars had an extended interview with Montana linebacker Caleb McSurdy last week. The 6-foot-1, 248 pound MLB was the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team FCS All-American.
As far as draft stock goes, McSurdy will likely be a priority free agent.
- Jaguars scouts recently had an extended interview with Georgia center Ben Jones. Jones is expected to be a second day selection and many see him as NFL ready.
- Kicker Josh Scobee is reportedly upset at the team giving him the franchise tag. The Jaguars were not going to let him escape as they did Adam Podlesh a season ago. A team source says they hope to get a long-term deal done with the strong-legged kicker.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie