Is Rashean Mathis Worth the Money?
Former Pro Bowler Rashean Mathis is due $4.5 million in 2011 and he was on the wrong end of several big plays last season. The former Bethune-Cookman grad will be 31 years old before the start of the regular season and one would assume that Mathis' best days are clearly behind him. That said, Rashean was clearly the Jaguars best player in the secondary in 2010 and the horrific safety play behind made him look like a much worse player. With the Jaguars relatively low payroll, if Mathis can continue to be the most reliable cornerback it doesn't behoove the team to make him a cap casualty for the sake of saving a few dollars, especially being that there isn't a legitimate young player to take his place. Mathis could likely play another year at cornerback and then a move to safety could occur as Rashean began his career at the position.
How Desperate is the Need at Safety?
The Jaguars haven't valued the safety position much over the last several years as they've let free agents such as Deon Grant and Gerald Sensabaugh walk. The result has been several band-aid types and youngsters who either aren't athletic enough or aren't ready to excel at what is becoming an increasingly important spot on the football field. The Jaguars hit an all-time low last season when they started Don Carey and Courtney Greene for a majority of the games at safety. Although Greene showed signs near the end of the season of being a solid player, Carey was atrocious from the first day on and never improved.
The Jaguars horrible play at safety hamstrung not only the defense, but the offense as well as teams would continuously pick on the struggling young players. Jacksonville addressed safety in the draft with former Wyoming product Chris Prosinski, but even if Prosinski replaces the horrible Don Carey, the team will still be in trouble on the back end. Veteran leadership is ultra-necessary, and one could make the argument that the need at safety exceeds all on this team, even quarterback.
Was it Just a Sophomore Slump For Derek Cox?
In a lot of people's minds, Derek Cox seemingly took a step back in 2010 as he struggled mightily opposite Rashean Mathis. Although the safety play did nobody on the field any favors, Cox's struggles were nobody's fault but his own, as he simply didn't cover or tackle well enough.
This is an important year for Cox, as the team has a second-round pick invested in him (traded up in 2009) and his draft status likely won't save him from another poor campaign. Cox appears to have the athleticism to play cornerback in the NFL but outside from a few good games in his career, he's been mostly bad to mediocre.
Will the Jags Add any Veteran Talent when Free Agency Opens?
It doesn't seem possible that the Jaguars can go into this season with the same duo of safeties as last season with the addition of rookie Chris Prosinski. Too many big plays were made against the team thanks to the holes at safety and the Jaguars must address the position in free agency, with their primary target likely being San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle. Baltimore's Dawan Landry, former Indianapolis Colts safety Melvin Bullitt and the Packers Atari Bigby could all be viable upgrades.
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