Free Agent Moves Not Panning Out

Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver hardly clipped any coupons this spring, as he and the Jaguars went on a free agent spending spree. He now finds himself with a much lighter wallet due to all the free agent spending and a lack of ticket sales.

First off, Weaver took care of his head coach as Jack Del Rio signed a contract extension, and the deal is speculated to be in the neighborhood of $5 million per year. Then, the Jaguars ended all speculation about the quarterback position as David Garrard was granted a six-year, $60 million deal. Throw in a deal to make Greg Jones the richest fullback in the history of the league, and the Jaguars went out of their way to spend revenue that they seemingly don't have.

After spending what could be more than $100 million on incumbent contracts, Wayne Weaver didn't sit out the free agency period. On the opening weekend, the Jaguars struck quickly with their signing of troubled Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter. Porter's deal is reportedly in the five-year, $30 million range, and they've received just one reception for six yards from the $10 million they guaranteed up to this point.

"From my standpoint, when he (Porter) was brought here there were questions about whether or not Matt Jones was ever going to be a starter we can count on," Del Rio said. "And prior to his injury in the spring, it looked like Jerry was everything we hoped to get when we signed him. He was injured and while he was injured Matt Jones came in in great shape and has been working his tail off and has all of a sudden become really our number one guy, become our top guy. So he's become that. If we didn't have a guy doing that, Jerry may get more opportunity, more exposure to be that guy. We're not asking him to be that right now because Matt's been that. Jerry just has a role right now and he's working hard at his role. I think in fairness to him, he's doing what we're asking him to do and we're not asking him to do as much right now because of the emergence of Matt. So I don't think it has to be a bad thing. I think if you look at our wide receiver group from yesterday, they played very well. Matt played well, Reggie Williams played well, Dennis Northcutt played well. Troy Williamson did a nice job in the role that we had for him yesterday. The idea is to maximize and have your group play well, and I thought the wide receivers were a real bright spot yesterday in the ball game. So I don't think it's fair to chip away at one guy who is not getting opportunities based on our need right now. We don't need him to be that guy right now, and other guys are doing a good job with what they're being asked to do. I hope that kind of answers it for you."

Although it isn't Porter's fault that he hurt his hamstring, the Jaguars are getting roughly no return on their investment, at least not yet, and it appears to be money wasted at this point.

The other big free agent acquisition was cornerback Drayton Florence. Florence was benched a year ago in San Diego and somehow segued that into a six-year, $36 million deal with the Jaguars that included roughly $12 million in guaranteed money. Through seven games, Florence has already been beaten repeatedly and lost his starting job at corner. Right now, Florence is one of the most expensive nickel corners in the NFL.

Throw in a few more smaller acquisitions in Cleo Lemon, Jimmy Kennedy, and Pierson Prioleau, and none of the Jaguars free agents have made any real impact on the team. Head coach Jack Del Rio's gambling ways haven't paid off this season, as the team has failed to convert on several fourth down attempts, costing them points in close games. Del Rio is not yet an elite coach, even if he's getting paid like one. Zero division titles, one playoff victory, and nearly a double-digit number of player arrests during his tenure don't bode well. David Garrard has played very well in recent weeks, but the stats show him as the 17th rated passer in the NFL with one of the lowest yards per completion rate in the league. His 6:4 touchdown to interception ratio is below average.

So far the best looking deal was given to Greg Jones, as he is emerging as one of the game's best fullbacks, but the fullback is not an impact position on most teams.

These moves by the Jaguars were supposed to propel a team that gave the AFC Champions all they could handle to a legitimate Super Bowl contender. After nearly half the season, the team finds itself under .500 and Wayne Weaver finds himself with a much lighter wallet, due to all the free agent spending and a lack of ticket sales.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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