Last year the team gambled that Marcus Stroud and Reggie Hayward would return from their injuries and become productive players. The Jaguars won't make that mistake again.
When Del Rio was asked about the injuries on defense, he said the team had a "good feel" for what the players could or couldn't do during the past season and said, "We knew it wasn't going to be an easy year. We had some challenges."
Stroud came back from microfracture surgery on his ankle and wound up on injured reserve and Hayward came back from Achilles tendon surgery, suffered a groin injury and wound up starting only 10 games. He had only 3.5 sacks.
Del Rio then added, "We'll be maybe be a little more aggressive in terms of making sure we have capable and able bodies to prepare for next year."
That seemed to indicate they want replacements available in case Stroud and Hayward don't return to their old form, but when Del Rio was asked to elaborate on the comments, he just said he wanted things to be more competitive.
The salaries for Stroud ($5 million in base salary next year) and Hayward ($3.5 million) also may figure in the discussions. Mike Peterson, who's due to make $3 million plus a $1.6 million roster bonus, may be in a similar situation as he returns from a broken hand.
It's too early to tell what pass rushers will be on the market, but Kansas City's Jared Allen and Baltimore's Terrell Suggs could be available. The Jaguars passed up Suggs on the first round of the 2003 draft to take Byron Leftwich.
When Del Rio was asked if he might be interested in trading for Cincinnati's Chad Johnson or Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald to get a big-play wide receiver, he said he's not allowed to talk about other team's players.
The Jaguars are likely to do their talking when it's time to put the money on the table.
The Jaguars are likely to have more than $35 million in cap room and when Del Rio was asked if they'd be willing to put together a huge deal to land a big name player, he said, "Regardless of whoever we give money to, it comes under a lot of scrutiny right away. A few years later, they're pretty good players and we knew what we were doing. We know the market is rising. We'll put together a plan, starting with our own roster."
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