Jaguars: Safeties

In this series we will look at each position on the Jaguars, determine the talent and needs, and suggest changes. The next position group we are going to analyze is the Jaguars safeties.

The Jaguars safeties began the 2007 season behind the proverbial eight-ball, as opening day starter Gerald Sensabaugh went down for the season early on. The Jaguars safeties played solid overall, despite starting a rookie and a 32-year old free agent for most of the year.

Starters- Reggie Nelson, Gerald Sensabaugh. Backups- Sammy Knight, Jamaal Fudge, Lamont Thompson.

Reggie Nelson was the Jaguars first-round pick last April, and ended up starting 15 of the team's 16 games. Nelson has physical abilities that can't be taught, as he has big game playmaking type of skills which was evidenced by his 5 interceptions. Nelson will likely be the Jaguars starting free safety for the foreseeable future assuming he stays healthy.

    Contract status: Nelson is under contract through 2011 (rookie deal).

Gerald Sensabaugh went down with a season ending shoulder injury early in the year, and stunted not only his own progression, but the progression of the secondary. Sensabaugh has ball hawking skills and enough speed to play either safety position, but he's a former fifth-round pick and has started just 9 games entering 2007.

    Contract status: Sensabaugh is a restricted free agent. The Jaguars will likely place a second- round tender on him.

Sammy Knight filled in admirably for the Jaguars after being signed in training camp as a street free agent. Knight started 15 games for the team and collected four interceptions, but was targeted by opposing teams all year long. Knight will be 33 when the season begins, and the Jaguars should attempt to offer him a contract.

    Contract status: Knight is an unrestricted free agent.

Jamaal Fudge was signed by the Jaguars after Gerald Sensabaugh went down for the year. Fudge had some limited snaps at strong safety, and was a special teams contributor. Fudge is a solid hitter, but is a liability in coverage.

    Contract status: Fudge is an exclusive rights free agent.

Lamont Thompson was signed by the Jaguars for the final three games of the regular season and was mostly a special teams contributor.

    Contract status: Thompson is under contract through 2008.

Are changes necessary? Possibly. Sensabaugh is still an unproven commodity, and Knight's best days are clearly behind him. The Jaguars were very soft in the middle of the field in 2007.

Other free agent options that could be available: Chris Crocker, Deke Cooper, Madieu Williams, Ken Hamlin, Nick Ferguson, Will Demps, Benny Sapp, Mike Doss, Eugene Wilson, Jay Bellamy, and Gibril Wilson.

Who makes sense: Hamlin had a very solid year and could be an immediate upgrade if Wayne Weaver wants to spend the type of cash that it would take to get the 27 year old. Doss, Ferguson, and Crocker could be good depth type of acquisitons, and Gibril Wilson could be a moderately priced upgrade.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of, and a regular syndicated contributor to, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and 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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