Salary Cap Happy, Jaguars Look To Spend

It's taken five years, playoff-free seasons, and countless losses, but at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, the Jaguars can finally cash in.

Coming in at $19.1 million under the salary cap, the Jaguars have money to spend, fifth-most of any team in the NFL. Don't expect the team to start throwing around money like drunken sailors on leave, much like they did in the late 90s, but at least they are in position to shore up some of the few spots in the lineup without young potential.

When the bell rings, the Jaguars are known to be especially interested in former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Derrick Mason, and Denver Broncos defensive end Reggie Hayward. Don't be surprised if the Jaguars get one or even both.

Hayward is known to be interested in Jacksonville and Arizona. Hayward is intriguing because he's young (25) and there are few talented defensive ends in the free agent crop. The Jaguars struggled with the bookends that surround Pro Bowl defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson last season. He's a solid pass rusher and had 11 ½ sacks last season. The Jaguars aren't showing any interest in Pro Bowl defensive end Trevor Pryce, also of the Broncos. He's suffered several knee injuries in the past two seasons.

Mason would be a good fit to complement Jaguars wideout Jimmy Smith who was often quarterback Byron Leftwich's only option in 2004. First-round pick Reggie Williams was a bust and his work ethics came into question several times even though he started all 16 games. Mason has the most catches in the NFL over the past five years, but he is 31 and looking to break the bank one final time.

Mason would also be a good fit if the Jaguars let tight end Kyle Brady leave as a free agent. Brady's role diminished last season, but he was still a viable option as a receiver. Coach Jack Del Rio, although he is currently not speaking with the press, has said he doesn't plan on giving up on Williams.

The Jaguars will also be trying to add a running back after second-round pick Greg Allen didn't play up to expectations. Fred Taylor had one of his best seasons, but the Jaguar offense came to a halt when Taylor was injured at the end of the 2004 season. With Taylor out, the Jaguars lost, 21-0 to the Houston Titans in a home game that knocked them from serious playoff contention. The Jaguars spent a lot of time talking to former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett at the NFL draft combine last weekend, but Clarett's attitude scares most executives and the Jaguars are never known to go after anyone with an attitude problem who might bring the least bit of controversy.

An offensive lineman might also be on the wish list with tackle Mike Pearson's status up in the air with a knee injury.


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