Jags will have some tough decisions to make
With the ushering in of a new Era, team owner Wayne Weaver and the Jacksonville organization might have to make some very difficult personnel decisions to make in order to build for the future. The team will most likely have to make many sacrifices now in order to build the team back to the level of four years ago.
The Jaguars have a very high salary cap and many holes to fill on the team.
Jacksonville will enter the 2003 season about $6 million below the salary cap. There are several high-priced players on the roster that might have to be traded or released.
The Jaguars have several needs to fill including, defensive end, linebacker, offensive line, cornerback and wide receiver.
Some of the players that might be under consideration for a release are Tony Brackens, Jimmy Smith, and Mark Brunell.
The two most talked about names of the bunch for release are Mark Brunell and Tony Brackens.
Brunell, in his 10th professional seasons in the NFL, is showing some signs of age. The Jaguars could possibly trade the 6-foot-1 and 221 pound quarterback to another club for a $4 million cap savings, but it'd also involve the risk of putting second-year quarterback David Garrard in charge of the offense. Last season Brunell vetoed a trade to the Detroit Lions.
If Brunell is released or traded there are several options for the Jags.
With added draft picks, Jacksonville, which has the eighth overall pick in the draft, might take a chance on the University of California's quarterback Kyle Boller. The 6-foot-3 and 215 pound standout has a lot of upside due to his arm strength and athletic ability. He had a very strong senior year by passing for over 2,800 yards and 28 touchdowns in 13 regular season games. If the Jaguar brass thinks he's too high of a risk, they could trade down or take a chance on several quarterbacks that might be available in the second round of the draft, including Texas's Chris Sims and Florida's Rex Grossman.
The Jaguars might also consider bringing in a veteran quarterback via free agency, who is serviceable and affordable, to go along with David Garrard.
Tony Brackens, a seven-year veteran who is Jacksonville's all-time career sacks leader, is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee. With the injury, it's uncertain if the 6-foot-4 and 265 pound defensive end will every return to previous form. He has the team's highest cap figure for 2003 of over 10 million. He could be released by June 1st.
If the Jaguars do indeed release Brackens, a pass-rusher in the draft might be their highest priority.
With such a weak-year for defensive ends in the draft, Jacksonville might be wise to consider Penn State's Michael Haynes if he fell to the eighth draft selection spot. The 6-foot-2 and 280 pounder, who has been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, raised his stock as much as any prospect during the Senior Bowl. As a senior, Haynes recorded 41 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and four sacks in 11 regular season games.
The Jaguars new front-office man James Harris will have many challenges ahead in 2003. It will be interesting to see how things develop.
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