The controversial career of Jaguars wide receiver Matt Jones may have hit an ending point when the former University of Arkansas receiver was arrested for drug possession in Fayetteville, Ark.
Coaches, teammates and fans have been disgruntled with Jones' play the past three seasons. The Jaguars made him a surprise first-round pick in the 2006 draft when they selected him as the 18th overall pick that year and announced they were converting him to wide receiver after Jones lettered four seasons at quarterback for the Razorbacks.
Jones caught 36, 41 and 24 passes in three seasons with the Jaguars with a high of 643 yards in the 2006 season. Despite his ideal size of 6-6, 232 pounds and excellent speed, Jones never factored into the team's passing attack. He came under criticism on numerous occasions for his lackadaisical demeanor and attitude. Jones was the subject of boos during Jaguars home games and drew fans' wrath on sports radio talk shows.
The Jaguars' coaching staff had stuck with him and lauded his effort. Jones' days may have been numbered even without the latest allegations. He had a decent offseason this spring during the team's OTAs, but the word was out that he had to have an exceptional training camp, one in which he would become a starter or make a serious run at a starting spot, in order to retain his roster spot for the 2008 season.
Jaguars defensive end Paul Spicer skipped the first three weeks of the team's organized team activities in May to send a message that he wasn't happy that he hadn't received a new contract after playing so well last year.
Spicer led the team in sacks last year with 7.5 but was approaching the final year of his contract with the club. Last week Spicer was rewarded for his efforts in 2007 when the club gave him a new three-year deal worth approximately $8 million, including an unspecified signing bonus.
Spicer, 32, had already left town for the summer and wasn't available for comment.
When he rejoined the team after skipping the first three weeks of OTAs, Spicer was asked if he felt he deserved to be paid among the top five or 10 highest-paid defensive ends in the NFL.
"I should be just what I need to be," he said. "I don't know where that is, as far as the top. I don't even know what the top guy is making, so I can't really make that call."
Spicer's new deal leaves him far below that of the top ends in the league. The average for the top five defensive ends is $8.8 million and the average for the top 10 is $7.6 million.
Jeremy Mincey's quest to make the roster at the crowded defensive end position suffered a setback when the former Florida Gator standout suffered a broken hand during the OTAs in spring and he was forced to have surgery. Now he'll miss all of the training camp and up to the first three weeks of the regular season.
"It is what it is. Nothing I can do about it at this point other than to work real hard when I get back in there," he said.
Mincey said he was glad to have former college teammate Derrick Harvey on the squad even though the two play the same position.
"Derrick's a good guy with a lot of talent. We can always use players like that," Mincey said. "I'm not worried about the competition. Good competition must makes you that much better of a player."
Backup offensive tackle Richard Collier said he was innocent of drunken driving charges but he pleaded no contest to the charges when he appeared in front of a Duval County judge last month.
Collier, 25, said he just wanted to get the 2007 incident behind him and concentrate on winning a starting job with the Jaguars this fall. Collier is expected to compete with Khalif Barnes for the left tackle spot this fall.
"I think this is better for me, for my team and for my community to do it this way," stated Collier.
Collier was arrested last November after Jacksonville police found him asleep and drunk at a McDonald's drive-thru. With his plea, Collier was sentenced to six months probation, 50 hours of community service and $650 in court costs. The Jaguars suspended him for two games following the incident.
The Jaguars now have much of their defensive unit locked up in future contracts. Only middle linebacker Mike Peterson will be playing out his contract following the 2008 season. Peterson, 32, had hoped to have a new deal during this offseason but he and the Jaguars failed to come to an agreement on a new pact.
Two other players -- Reggie Hayward and Clint Ingram -- have two years remaining on their current deal while all other key personnel on defense are locked in until 2011 or later.
Jacksonvillle Player Notes
Jags Illustrated Top Stories
The Great EscapeThis team needs to get out of town. Out of the state. Out of the timezone. Out of the hemisphere. Okay not quite that far, but almost.
Jags Illustrated6:38 PM
London's Gentleman: Roy Miller InterviewI sat down with Jags DT Roy Miller in the locker room. We discussed everything from Gus Bradley's future to the trip to London.
Jags Illustrated7:00 AM
Identity CrisisThe Jags have started the 2016 season on a rough note. 0-3 is a tough pill to swallow and many fans are calling for Gus Bradley’s job. People are even starting to question their…
Jags IllustratedYesterday at 3:48 AM
State of the JaguarsWith a loss to the Ravens on Sunday, the Jaguars next game against Indianapolis in London is by far the most important game they've played so far this season.
Jags IllustratedMonday at 7:43 AM