We've explored some of the free agent possibilities, which include the likes of Jared Allen and Terrell Suggs, as well as Justin Smith. The likelihood of Allen or Suggs being available is very slim, and Smith is a major unknown coming off a season of just 2 sacks. If Jacksonville is going to fill this major position of need, it may have to come from the draft, where you can't expect a player selected near the end of the first round to make much of an impact.
One other possibility for immediate help may lie in Miami, in the body of 33 year old Dolphins defensive end, Jason Taylor. Taylor has been a six-time Pro Bowler, and five-time All Pro player in his brilliant 11-year career, without playing along side of great defensive talent. Taylor is simply a game-changing end, and seems to be in great shape at 6'6", 255 lbs. One of the major questions before acquiring a player with the advanced age of Taylor is how much does he have left? JagNation asked Dolphins Digest publisher Alain Poupart about the very subject and here's what he had to say-
"Can he still maintain his level of play for a couple of years? Sure, but not much more than a couple -- as in, two. He started off very slowly in 2007 before coming on the second half of the season. He was voted to the Pro Bowl, but probably shouldn't have been picked ahead of someone like Mario Williams, but still he made a lot of plays down the stretch."
There are some other factors involved with picking up a player like Taylor. The first of which is if the Dolphins would listen to offers for the dominant end, and if they would, how much compensation would they require? It would seem to make sense that Taylor would be on the block, considering his age and the direction that the team is going under new VP Bill Parcells. We asked Alain Poupart if he thought Miami would be interesting in moving the veteran-
"I do think the Dolphins would listen to offers for Taylor, but I doubt they'd let him go for anything less than a second-round pick."
The next question is-Is Taylor worth a second-round pick? The answer is a definitive maybe. It's always a risk when a team gives up compensation for anyone over the age of 30, let along 33, but Taylor has always maintained very good health, so if anyone would be worth it, it would be him. Assuming that he can maintain his high level of play. This type of move is not one that the Jaguars would normally make, but it is one that could possibly put this team over the top while their narrow window for a championship is still open. Scout.com and Sirius NFL Radio expert Adam Caplan weighed in on what he thinks Taylor could receive in terms of compensation-
"It's a little early to guess who would want to acquire him but because of his age (we'll get a better idea as we get closer to the start of free agency in March), you're probably looking at a conditional third or fourth round pick based on playing time (typical parameters in trades)."
There's one more issue with the acquisition of Taylor, assuming the Dolphins and Jaguars are of agreement on compensation. That is Taylor's contract. Jason is due $7.5 million in 2008, and $8 million of salary in 2009, pretty big numbers for a player of his advanced age. Would the Jaguars be willing to renegotiate and add a few more years being that they would be giving up a high draft choice? Would Taylor renegotiate his contract down a bit to play for a winning team? Adam Caplan has an idea-
"The veteran end has high salaries coming in his final two seasons ($7.5 million-2008 and $8 million in 2009) so that's a hefty price to pay for a team that likely will be looking to start over next season. But Taylor has proven over the last few seasons that he can play in different schemes (4-3, 3-4 outside linebacker) while still being effective. He certainly looks to have something left in the tank and is about as durable as any end in the league. So there should be teams that would be interested if he's put on the trading block. However, he would likely have to agreed to restructure the final two years of his contract or agree to a new one that's back loaded in order for a team to agree to make a deal for him."
Would Jason Taylor be an upgrade to the Jaguars? Most likely. Could he catapult the team past Indianapolis to an AFC South title? Maybe. The real question is--What will it be worth to the Jaguars to find out?
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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