Another Free Agent WR for the Jaguars?

Last season the Jaguars took a swing in the free agent market with Jerry Porter, and after a torn hamstring and bad attitude, the team spent eight figures on just 11 receptions. A miss like that would certainly be enough to dissuade any team from spending big again, but there may be a few options on the free agent market that could fit in the Jaguars system and budget.

There is no Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald type in this year's free agent class, and as the salary cap rises, don't expect there to be those types of talented players available without there being some serious baggage accompanying them. Still, there are a couple options which may not break the bank who could add some playmaking ability to the outside in Jacksonville.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh is the top ranked wide receiver in free agency, and although most people can't correctly pronounce his name, he has stepped out of Chad Johnson's shadow in Cincinnati and become the Bengals go-to receiver. Houshmandzadeh is a fantastic route runner who isn't afraid to go over the middle and take a big hit from safeties. He is also one of the few very good citizens on the Cincinnati team and was one of the players who didn't complain when seemingly everything has gone wrong over the past three seasons.

The 6'1", 199 lb. eight-year veteran from Oregon State has caught 204 passes over the past two seasons without playing with starting QB Carson Palmer for much of that time. Still, Houshmandzadeh doesn't seem to possess the ability to turn a five-yard gain into a 50-yard gain and that will likely keep his price down somewhat in the open market.

The second free agent wide receiver option is Tampa Bay's Antonio Bryant (pictured above). Bryant did his best Cris Carter impression in 2008 as he resurrected his career and by the end of the season was the Bucs go-to guy. Bryant single-handedly made somewhat erratic quarterback Jeff Garcia look good, as he reeled in passes by leaping and lunging, while diving, and sometimes with just one hand. By the end of the 2008 season, Bryant was a regular contributor on the SportsCenter highlights.

The down side with Bryant is that he has great potential, and always has had great potential, but has only seemingly realized this potential for one year. Bryant's 83 catches for 1243 yards in 2008 accounted for roughly 25% of his career stats in seven seasons. Still, Bryant is a legitimate deep threat who can certainly adjust to the ball very well in air. Bryant's lack of a body of work will likely keep him from breaking the proverbial bank.

So which player would be the better fit for the Jaguars? This analyst thinks Antonio Bryant. It isn't that T.J. Houshmanzadeh isn't a great player, but the team already has a very good possession receiver in Matt Jones, and if Jones can build off his career year of 2008, the Jaguars will have the guy they need to move the chains. Meanwhile Bryant brings a level of athleticism that only Mike Walker has on the Jags roster, and Walker hasn't even been able to stay healthy for a single season since being selected in the third-round of the 2007 draft.


Jags Illustrated Top Stories