The Jaguars were busy in the opening weekend of free agency, as began by trading for former Vikings wide receiver Troy Williamson, signed former Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter, former Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon, former Bears defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, and former Chargers cornerback Drayton Florence. The Jaguars also shipped former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud to Buffalo for third and fifth-round picks.
With the new signings, the team was forced to let a few guys go in free agency. Wide receiver Ernest Wilford signed a new deal in Miami, defensive end Bobby McCray was signed by New Orleans, safety Sammy Knight was signed by New York, and backup quarterback Quinn Gray is still on the market, as is defensive tackle Grady Jackson, and cornerbacks Terry Cousin and Aaron Glenn. Money was not the issue in the team refusing to retain these players, as they began the free agency period nearly $40 million under the cap, and are still nearly $17 million under the cap.
Player Evaluations: New Signings
Jerry Porter- Porter was brought in to be the Jaguars #1 wide receiver, and he is instantly the most talented and accomplished player of their current group. Porter adds a deep threat and polished route running skills despite having lackluster numbers the last two years while exiled in the anti-offense scheme of the Oakland Raiders.
Troy Williamson- The Jaguars traded a sixth-round pick to Minnesota for Williamson, and what they received is a receiver with legitimate deep speed with the reputation of not being able to catch a cold. The Jaguars coaching staff feels that a lot of his issues are mental, and they can turn him into a solid player. Even if they can't, a sixth-round pick would likely not even make this roster.
Cleo Lemon- Lemon is an experienced quarterback who is fine with the role of backup. Lemon is athletic and has a solid arm, and probably is a slight upgrade over former backup Quinn Gray.
Drayton Florence- Florence was paid a lot of money ($12 million guaranteed) to play either the nickelback position or be a starting corner, assuming they move Brian Williams to safety. Florence is a big play type of player who gets interceptions at big moments, but will take chances and get burned often.
Jimmy Kennedy- Kennedy is a former first-round pick by the Rams whose found himself in a position where he didn't fit in St. Louis. Kennedy has been mostly an underachiever throughout his career in St. Louis before being shipped to Denver, and then signing on with the Bears. The Jaguars are hopeful that Kennedy can reflect some of the form that made him the 12th overall pick in the 2003 draft, but if he can't, the team only has a $50,000 signing bonus invested.
Ernest Wilford- Although Ernest Wilford was a beloved player in Jacksonville, his skill set is not unique in the fact that he's a tall, 6'5" target that runs slow with questionable hands. Wilford will be missed more in the community than on the football field, as the Jaguars certainly upgraded the position with the acquisitions of Porter and Williamson. Wilford signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins.
Bobby McCray- McCray was a situational third-down rush specialist that the Jaguars tried to make into an every downs defensive end. In his contract year, McCray laid an egg by getting to the quarterback just three times (coming in the last few games of the regular season), and finding himself deactivated in the middle of the year in favor of the undrafted Jeremy Mincey. McCray signed a contract with the New Orleans Saints.
Sammy Knight- Knight was signed by the Jaguars last August to add depth to their secondary, but ended up starting for most of the season due to the injury to Gerald Sensabaugh. Knight was solid as he came away with four interceptions, but he was exposed all too often by opposing tight ends over the middle of the field. Knight signed a contract with the New York Giants.
Quinn Gray- Gray was a quarterback that the Jaguars signed as an undrafted free agent rookie, and developed him for four years. When finally afforded playing time in a meaningful situation, when David Garrard went down against the Colts, Gray floundered by throwing balls repeatedly into coverage. Although the Jaguars won two of the four games Gray started last season (all on the road), Gray was only impressive in the season finale against Houston, when neither team had anything to play for. Gray signed a contract with the Houston Texans.
Grady Jackson- Jackson was a solid run stuffer that the Jaguars picked up halfway through last season when he was released from Atlanta. Jackson did his job by plotting his massive 360+ lb. frame in the middle of the line and taking up valuable real estate. Jackson would likely have never hit free agency if he wasn't 35 years old. Jackson is still available.
Terry Cousin- Cousin was the Jaguars starting nickel cornerback over the last two years, and was one of the weak links in their pass defense. Although Cousin is a good guy, he lacks the speed to keep up with slot receivers and was a very poor tackler. Cousin is still available.
Aaron Glenn- Aaron Glenn was signed by Jacksonville prior to the beginning of the regular season and only saw playing time in five games. Glenn did an admirable job against in a mid-season victory against Tampa Bay, but his lack of foot speed was exploited by opposing offenses. Glenn is still available.
Most of this recap is old news if you have been keeping up with the offseason, but this week we will also see and evaluate how the Jaguars division rivals have fared in the business season.