Secondary Shuffling?

It's the NFL Combine, but that doesn't mean all the news in Indianapolis is about the NFL Draft. While there are prospects working out and going through the proverbial "meat market", the combine is also a breeding ground for delicious rumors and things of interest. It's full of agents, team execs, and people trying to find jobs and network.

The St. Louis Rams may have a very big say in what happens in the Jacksonville Jaguars secondary this season.

The Rams? Yes the Rams.

With rumors swirling that it looks like the St. Louis Rams are going to draft Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the first overall pick, it could potentially push a player like Florida cornerback Joe Haden to the Jaguars, as that would allow a defensive tackle to fall to the Bucs, which means that Tennessee safety Eric Berry to slide further down to the Browns and so on. If that scenario were to happen, the Jaguars could be presented with a pleasent problem.

Rookie cornerback Derek Cox was a surprise and played very well his rookie season, sealing up a starting cornerback position. If someone like Joe Haden were to fall to Jacksonville, one would think they would rush to the podium with his name on a card. This then would allow the Jaguars to ask Rashean Mathis, who originally was drafted as a safety out of Bethune Cookman in 2003, to move back to the free safety position where he started his career as a Jaguar. Doing so would significantly upgrade the Jaguars secondary as a whole and potentially extend the career of hometown favorite Rashean Mathis.

Word out on the street is that defensive back stand out and Jacksonville native Rashean Mathis is looking for a new deal. Mathis has been the best player on the Jaguars defense for many years, and he feels he should be rewarded, especially considering he took a below-market deal with his last contract. That said, Mathis hasn't finished a season healthy since 2006. None of Mathis' injuries have been major though, all have been soft tissue nagging injuries or something like a broken hand/finger. Mathis is still a very good corner in the NFL, but at his age, and taking into account his injury history, he shouldn't be expecting to get paid like one.

If Mathis would be willing to make the transition to free safety, it would also mean if the Jaguars were to extend him, they would be paying free safety money and not cornerback money.

Mathis paired in the secondary with current safety Gerald Alexander would present the Jaguars with two safeties who are not liabilities in coverage and would also allow the Jaguars to work more with troubled first-round pick Reggie Nelson, whom they've been using a lot as a nickel corner. Some will question Mathis' ability to support the run, as he's not known as a great tackler, but as the free safety his primary job is coverage... which the current free safety seems to forget at times. Mathis ability as a ball hawk would also still be put to great use, as Mathis' modus operandi for intercepting passes is baiting quarterbacks and cutting off the route underneath with his great recovery speed, which he could do even more of at the safety position.


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