Players, fans, media and team employees alike don't want the only NFL news to be about legal proceedings. Nobody has Judges Doty, Nelson or anyone from the 8th circuit court on their fantasy teams, nor do they have Jeff Pash or DeMaurice Smith. The lockout causes the vast majority of fans to feel angst toward both the players and owners and it hurts the NFL brand as a whole.
The Jaguars are one of the teams that's especially affected by the lockout as they are a franchise that has historically struggled with ticket sales. Without any sign or assurance of football being played this fall, the men and women whose job it is to market tickets just became that much more difficult. Following a season when Jacksonville was able to get all eight games shown on television, anything less than that in 2011 would be a significant step back.
On the field, the Jaguars young roster needs to spend more time together. A team with veteran leaders such as the New York Jets or New England Patriots doesn't need offseason training activities as the most important positions on their respective franchises aren't open to competition. Jacksonville is quite the opposite.
Offensively, the Jaguars front office would like rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert to win the starting quarterback job so they can get his rookie "bumps and bruises" out of the way as quickly as possible. There's also the fact that incumbent quarterback David Garrard does not figure into the team's long-term plans and his nearly $8 million salary figure will need to be trimmed partially, if not completely.
"I think a couple of things can help," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said when asked about Gabbert playing early. "One, I think he's a super-intelligent kid. Two, once we do go into camp it would be best for him and us, but in particular for him, to have a chance to play early if he gets himself here, gets himself signed and in camp, so that will be important."
An extended lockout that could sacrifice more practice time would make it much more difficult for the rookie quarterback to win the starting job, thus setting the franchise back a year and potentially forcing the team to poorly allocate a large portion of their payroll to David Garrard.
Another large consequence of the lockout involves free agency. Jacksonville only has a few of their own free agents where a return is possible and that likely involves linebackers Justin Durant and Kirk Morrison. Although both players underperformed in 2010, the Jaguars are left with few options for upgrading the position and may need both players to return out of necessity.
Without free agency rules set in place the Jaguars, along with the other 31 NFL teams, don't really know which players will be available and it will be especially difficult to fill the back end of the team's roster. Jacksonville will need to address several needs on their 28th ranked defense from a season ago and much of that will have to come via free agency.
"We'll be active in pro free agency," Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said when asked about how the team will improve the defense after selecting just two defensive players late in the draft. "That's always going to supplement what we do in the college draft and we feel very good about where we're at as a team right now."
The Jaguars need a swift end to the lockout as much, if not more than any other team in football. With ticket sales issues looming, a rookie quarterback that needs to be caught up to speed and roster deficiencies that can only be addressed via free agency Jacksonville would welcome a return back to work.
Charlie Bernstein is the host of "The Sports Crunch" on the Aquarius 7 Broadcasting Network (national), and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in 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
Jaguars Desperate For Lockout To End
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