The Jacksonville Jaguars look no worse on paper than they did at the end of the season. In the first 12 or so hours of free agency, Jacksonville managed to re-sign leading sack man Jeremy Mincey and starting free safety Dwight Lowery.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that because of new owner Shad Khan's strong words, the fanbase believed that the team would use much of it's nearly $40 million in cap space on upgrading the roster, not just keeping it the same.
In a league where if you're not getting better, you're getting worse, the Jaguars on this day are clearly not a better football team than the one which finished 5-11 a season ago. Meanwhile when fans look across the state, the Tampa Bay Bucs have taken a proactive approach to free agency as they signed the top wide receiver in the class, Vincent Jackson, along with cornerback Eric Wright and are reportedly close to a deal with perhaps the best interior lineman in football, Carl Nicks.
Tampa Bay entered free agency with similar needs as Jacksonville and similar cap space. They've used it to improve their roster dramatically and we're not even 24 hours into the game.
"No need to panic, we're not done yet," a Jaguars source said when asked about the lack of activity on the first day by a team that needs to re-energize a fanbase.
That source has a good point that we are less than a day into free agency. If the Jaguars can somehow ink free agent defensive end Mario Williams and wide receiver Laurent Robinson they will be perceived to be a better football team than what we saw leave the field in early January.
If they can't sign any new talent, Jacksonville will have to depend solely on the draft to improve a terrible wide receiving corps, get better on the offensive line, get help at cornerback and find another pass rusher to play opposite Mincey. That's a lot of needs for just one draft and it pigeonholes them into likely taking a wide receiver early in the draft where the value might be better suited at another position.
For Jaguars fans, there's no reason to jump off the Hart Bridge just yet but the clock is ticking. If Jacksonville can't upgrade in the next week or so with all of their cap space, there really will be little hope entering the season.
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
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