Will the Jags look to free agency for LB help?
One of head coach Jack Del Rio's first priorities in rebuilding the Jacksonville Jaguars will to be the upgrading the linebacker position. The young, fiery coach would like to find another middle linebacker along with a weak-side one. Last year, the leading tackler for the linebacker core was rookie strong-side backer Akin Ayodele with 57 tackles.
This year's free agency crop for linebackers is very strong compared to what's available in the draft. General Manger James Harris and head coach Del Rio don't want to spend a lot of money with free agency but if they do spend it will most likely be on a linebacker or two.
The Jags Insiders will examine a few of the unrestricted free agent linebackers that Jacksonville might consider signing.
Mike Peterson, a 6-foot-2 and 230 pound four-year pro linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts, would give the Jags the versatility to play either the strong-side or weak-side spots like he did in Indy. Although a little on the small side, Peterson is quick and has a nose for the ball. He's more of a run-stopper and a coverage guy that a pass-rusher. This past season, he led the Colts in tackles with 136. Peterson also added seven interceptions in the last three years. The Colts were contemplating placing the franchise tag on him but the team thought that the price was too high. Peterson would have at least received a guaranteed one-year tender offer of $5.614 million. Peterson, who has visited Detroit and is scheduled to visit Buffalo today, will definitely not be back with the Colts after President Bill Polian's harsh comments. "Mike has been a good player for us," Polian said. "But (coach) Tony (Dungy) made the point that at these prices, you'd like them to be great players, not good players." Will the Jags jump into the race for Peterson services or will the price be too high?
Roosevelt Colvin, a 6-foot-3 and 250 pound four-year linebacker might be what the Jaguars are looking for to fill the void. The all-big ten defensive end was drafted by the Chicago Bears and made the transition to linebacker. In 2001 he became a full-time starter or the Bears by racking up 79 tackles and a team high 10.5 sacks. This past season he added additional 10.5 sacks to go along with 64 tackles. The Bears reportedly have offered the unrestricted free-agent linebacker $13 million over five years which probably won't be enough for them to retain his services. Reportedly up to 10 teams are interested in Colvin. He has already met with the Giants and he's scheduled to meet with the Lions today. With his pass-rush ability, it would seem to be a perfect fit for the Jags but with all of his interest; it might be too high a price to pay.
Shelton Quarles, a 6-foot-1 and 225 pound six-year pro linebacker, manned the middle for the Super Bowl Champs. His fiery demeanor and range to play sideline-to-sideline would fit in perfect with head coach Jack Del Rio's mentality. This past season Quarles was the second leading tackler for the Bucs with 113 total tackles. He might be difficult to lure Jacksonville's direction because the Bucs are making him one of their biggest priorities to re-sign.
Cornell Brown a 6-foot and 260 pound unrestricted free agency outside linebacker with Baltimore. Brown was one of the best success stories in 2002 for the Ravens. He was out of football in 2001 after being released by the Ravens just prior to season's start because of off the field troubles. In 2002 he started 14 games for the Ravens, proving to be an effective performer, especially against the run in the Ravens 3-4 defense by recording 59 tackles. Jaguar head coach Del Rio, his former position coach with the Ravens, is very interested in his services. Brown is very interested in staying put in Baltimore. This is my home, Brown told The Baltimore Sun. "This is where I feel the most comfortable. That's the best fit."
---Dave Peters JagsInsiders.Com
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