RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- Fred Taylor, Greg Jones. Backups -- Maurice Jones-Drew, LaBrandon Toefield, Montell Owens, D.D. Terry.
Fred Taylor had a Pro Bowl caliber season at the tender age of 31, as he gained over 1200 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry. Taylor had four rushes of better than 50 yards on the season and displayed the speed and power that has made him one of the best backs in the NFL. Sharing carries with Maurice Jones-Drew has seemed to keep Taylor more fresh, and has been healthier and more explosive as a result.
Contract status: Taylor is under contract through 2010, and the Jaguars will likely make decisions on him year by year as he's due $5M, $6M, then $7M over the next three years (salary and roster bonuses).
Contract status: Jones' contract is voidable and will become a free agent this spring. Jones will be a hot commodity on the free agent market, as he may become the highest paid fullback in NFL history, eclipsing the Falcons' Ovie Mughelli who inked a 6 year, $18 million deal a year ago.
Like any other player, the Jaguars must put a dollar value on Jones' services and let the market determine where he will go. Although Jones has been a very nice player for the team, fullback is not a position in which they should overpay.
Contract status: Jones-Drew is under contract through the 2009 season (his rookie deal).
Contract status: Toefield is an unrestricted free agent. Toefield was a UFA last season and the Jaguars allowed him to test the market before coming back and signing a one-year deal.
It is very unlikely that Toefield will be wearing a Jaguars uniform in 2008.
Contract status: Owens is an exclusive rights free agent which means that he has no more than two accrued seasons in the NFL and may only sign with his prior team, provided, of course, that the team extends a minimum qualifying offer to the player. Owens isn't going anywhere.
Contract status: Terry was signed by the Jaguars last week to a one-year deal.
Other options that could be available: Musa Smith, Brad Hoover, Jamal Lewis, Cecil Sapp, T.J. Duckett, Ron Dayne, Kris Wilson, Jesse Chatman, Melwelde Moore, Tony Richardson, Aaron Stecker, Justin Fargas, Thomas Tapeh, Dan Kreider, Michael Turner, Michael Bennett, and Chris Brown.
Who makes sense: If the Jaguars can't come to terms with Greg Jones, some of the pure fullbacks that could be available are Brad Hoover, Kris Wilson, Tony Richardson, Thomas Tapeh, and Dan Kreider. Jamal Lewis, Justin Fargas, and Michael Turner are all talented running backs that will either likely cost too much for the Jaguars, or will demand too many carries if they need a replacement for Toefield. Some of the running backs that could fit in as a third back are Musa Smith, Cecil Sapp, T.J. Duckett, Aaron Stecker, or Chris Brown.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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