It appears that Khalif Barnes is certainly no longer in the Jaguars plans. The team reportedly offered him just a one-year deal to return for a fifth season as the starter at left tackle.
How will the team fill his spot? Sources say that the Jaguars are high on Charles Spencer, the talented former third-round pick from the University of Pittsburgh who came to the Jags by way of Houston.
Although Spencer is a bit of a risk protecting David Garrard's blind spot, the Jaguars don't currently have anyone else on the roster that's capable of playing LT, and will likely use an early draft pick on a long-term replacement.
The Jaguars are sitting with roughly $11 million under the salary cap entering free agency, and it's likely that number will increase significantly. The team is not expected to pay cornerback Drayton Florence his $2.5 million roster bonus next month, as Florence struggled mightily in his first season after signing a free agent deal. Florence earned approximately $9.5 million in 2008.
The team may also part ways with wide receiver Jerry Porter after signing him to a rich free agent contract less than a year ago. Porter tore his hamstring in the spring which caused him to miss all of training camp and several games. He finished the season with just 11 receptions.
Finally, Mr. Jaguar, Fred Taylor's days may be numbered in Jacksonville. Despite being a fan favorite, head coach Jack Del Rio has drawn a proverbial line in the sand with his demands that every player do their offseason training with the team in Jacksonville. Add in the fact that Taylor will be 33 years old and he's scheduled to earn nearly $6 million in 2009, and the writing is clearly on the wall.
The Jacksonville coaching staff and scouting department has been extremely busy at the Senior Bowl this week as they've looked at numerous hours of film and worked out several prospects. Still, the team's first-round pick may not be in attendance as sources say the Jaguars are very high on University of Virginia left tackle Eugene Monroe.
Defensively, Jack Del Rio's South squad has a plethora of talent, and among those impressive players has been not only the five USC defenders, but a pair of players from a basketball school. Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith has turned heads all over Ladd-Peebles stadium, as he has been clearly the best defensive back in Mobile, according to scouts. Smith's less heralded partner in theft, Chip Vaughn is a physical safety who likens himself to Jack Tatum and Sean Taylor.
Another head-turner from Mobile plays a position in which the Jaguars don't seemingly have a need, tight end. Southern Miss big man Shawn Nelson has been the star at the TE position throughout Senior Bowl practice, and Jaguars coach Mike Tice has appeared to take quite a fondness to the 6'5" target.