Jaguars Filling the Gaps

Jacksonville appears to have concluded another successful free agency period, with the newly acquired players filling gaps that were a team concern while the holes left by the free agents who departed the Jaguars seem curable.

Among the Jaguars' biggest holes to fill were help at the wide receiver position. The team has been searching for help at that spot since 2004 when the Jaguars selected then-20-year-old Reggie Williams from Washington with their first-round pick -- the ninth overall selection -- and later added Ernest Wilford in the fourth round.

The Jaguars have drafted two wide receivers in three of the last four years, but none have produced the numbers the team has been searching for. In his fourth season with the team a year ago, Williams caught just 38 passes for 629 yards in 15 games. He did manage 10 touchdown catches to set a club record, but the 2.5 average catches per game is not what the club is looking for in a former No. 1 pick. Wilford has since departed, opting to sign with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent several weeks ago.

By signing free agent Jerry Porter and trading for Troy Williamson, the Jaguars are hopeful they've taken the right steps in solving their lack of production at that position. Porter has had two seasons in which he caught 64 and 76 passes for nearly 1,000 yards both seasons. The downside with Porter is that he has had issues with management, namely his public criticism of Oakland coach Art Shell.

But Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said the club explored Porter's past and is convinced that it's just that -- the past.

"We feel good about who he is and what he stands for and the type of athlete he is speaks for itself," Del Rio said. "The day Jerry gets here, he's our best receiver."

If Porter is the best, Del Rio wouldn't mind if Williamson developed into the second best. After a less-than-successful three-year stint in Minnesota, the Jaguars are hopeful that a change of scenery is all it will take for the speedy wide receiver to improve on his numbers.

He caught 79 passes for 1,067 yards, but for just three touchdowns with the Vikings. What he does bring to the team is speed, the likes of which the Jaguars have not had since Jimmy Smith's early years when he could race by a cornerback for a big gain.

Williamson's troubles in Minnesota evolved around his inability to hang on to passes. He dropped a number of balls that in turn decreased his playing time for the Vikings. He was ready to leave town when he became a free agent at the end of the season and the Vikings didn't actively try to resign him.

If Porter and Williamson can play to their potential, the Jaguars will have made two solid moves in free agency and hopefully will have solved their woes at the wide position spot.


QUOTE TO NOTE: "Promising. We've got a good solid core group of players, a lot of cap room and had a quarterback emerge. To me, we've shown this past year that we're playing with an unselfish attitude and a consistent approach." -- Coach Jack Del Rio when asked how he would characterize the future of the Jaguars.


Jags Illustrated Top Stories