The number one offseason priority for the Jaguars should be addressing their situation at left tackle, as Khalif Barnes is an unrestricted free agent. If you were Gene Smith, would you try to re-sign Barnes or franchise him, or would you let him go?
As talented as Barnes is, he's been inconsistent throughout his young career. Physically, he has the talent to be a dominant tackle, but he has yet to put it all together. It's a tough decision for the Jaguars, because they're a team that's desperate for offensive line help, and they may feel pressure to resign him. Barnes will be 26 years old at the start of the 2009 season and despite his struggles, he's still young and hasn't even reached the prime of his career. In the end, with other teams around the league desperate for a young offensive tackle with promise, Barnes may find a big money deal elsewhere, and it could price out the Jaguars. But if Barnes is willing to take a contract similar to the one Kwame Harris received from the Oakland Raiders last season – three years, $16 million – that's a deal the Jaguars could live with.
Speaking of free agents, the Jaguars must make a decision on safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who was the team's best safety in 2008. Would you try and re-sign him or let him test the waters? If you were to re-sign him, what is a likely salary number?
This will be another tough decision for the Jaguars, because it all depends on how the front office views Sensabaugh, and that will determine the contract they offer. A good barometer on Sensabaugh's side of the table will be the six-year, $33 million contract Madieu Williams signed last year with the Minnesota Vikings or the five-year, $31.5 million deal Deon Grant received in 2007 from the Seattle Seahawks. Sensabaugh's breakout '08 season compares well with Grant and Williams' contract years. A good offer to Sensabaugh, who turns 26 in June, would be four years, $22.5 million. If he declines, it would allow him to test his value on the open market and request to have the opportunity to match a competitive offer.
The Jaguars are selecting 8th in the draft for the second consecutive season, but this time they don't have to trade up. Knowing that there are plenty of holes on the roster, who would be your choice for the team if you were in charge?
In, the last two mock drafts that I've completed, I had the Jaguars selecting Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin. I think the wide receiver position has to be addressed, and Maclin is an impact player who can stretch the field. Offensive tackle is another area of concern for the Jaguars. If Eugene Monroe (Virginia) or Jason Smith (Baylor) is available, and I expect at least one of them to be on the board at No. 8, finding a future bookend may outweigh the necessity of a wide receiver, especially if the Jaguars allow Khalif Barnes to walk. But, I will stick with Maclin as my choice for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars went out to see Ball State quarterback Nate Davis several times this season, and it appears that they liked what they saw. Where does Davis fit in this draft right now?
At this point, Davis is a solid second round prospect with a chance to elevate his status to a late first round pick with a solid offseason. Davis does a lot of things well: he has excellent field vision and finds the open receiver consistently, he delivers a strong, catchable ball to his receivers and he is a tremendous leader in the huddle. But for him to be a high Day One selection and a future NFL starter, he has to improve his footwork and mechanics.
With Fred Taylor entering the twilight of his career, and also due a $6 million cap number in 2009, his days may be very well numbered in Jacksonville. Assuming they can't come to an agreement to restructure his deal, when do you believe this team would look at another back to compliment Maurice Jones-Drew, and who could fit in well?
It's hard to say goodbye to an icon of a team, and as good as Fred Taylor has been in Jacksonville, I can't imagine the Jaguars paying him that money next season. With that said, I think the Jaguars should look for a complimentary running back in this year's draft. When you have a player like Maurice Jones-Drew, you don't have to spend a first round pick on a RB, but in the third round, why not? In last year's draft, there were a few talented RBs taken in the third round: Kevin Smith (Detroit Lions), Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs) and Steve Slaton (Houston Texans). This year, the talent isn't as deep, but players like Rashad Jennings (Liberty), James Davis (Clemson), Devin Moore (Wyoming) and Jeremiah Johnson (Oregon) would be good compliments for Jones-Drew. Of the names that I mentioned, Davis and Johnson fit the best with Jones-Drew, as they've shared the spotlight in college with another talented back and have been productive.
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