JACKSONVILLE -- The fan base is clamoring for answers to the quarterback questions that lingered for most of a decade of dormancy for the Jacksonville Jaguars
With the third overall pick, there is a very good possibility the franchise could be in position to take one of the top three prospects at the position in the 2014 draft: Louisville junior Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and UCF's Blake Bortles.
There's also a chance South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney would be on the board after the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams -- teams with All-Pro defensive ends on their roster -- make their selections.
What to do with Chad Henne
? What to do with Blaine Gabbert
? What to do with the quarterback spot in general?
But before those questions are pertinent, there are three key questions facing the organization during. It's tough to answer any one question without having a ready answer for the other two. All three are intertwined to a certain degree, with two of the three somewhat out of the Jaguars control.
Breaking down the three:
Henne: He's a free agent so the Jaguars aren't sure if he'll be back. As of today, nearly four months before the college draft, yes, the Jaguars would like to re-sign him. It's not that Henne was overwhelming in the 13 games that he started, which included the final 11 of the season. Granted, he did become just the third quarterback in franchise history to throw for more than 3,000 yards (3,241), but he had more interceptions than touchdowns (14-13), had a yards per attempt of just 6.4, was sacked 38 times and finished with a pedestrian-like passer rating of 76.5. But as of this moment, he's the best that the Jaguars still have access to.
Gabbert has one year remaining on his rookie contract, one that he's been largely overpaid compared to what he's delivered on the field. The starting job was Gabbert's to lose entering training camp in August. Sure enough, Gabbert lost it. Several injuries enabled Henne to step in as the starter, and while he failed to guide the team to a win until the ninth game, by then he was entrenched as the starter.
So what do the Jaguars do with Gabbert? Reports had it they would take a late-round draft pick for him just to get something back on the former No. 10 overall pick of the 2011 draft. The Jaguars are hesitant to do anything with Gabbert until they know where they are with Henne. If the latter signs elsewhere, the Jaguars don't want to be left without their first- or second-stringers.
Which leads to the third question; the quarterback position in general. If Jacksonville knew it would draft a quarterback with its pick at No. 3, either Henne or Gabbert, but not necessarily both, could go to the discard pile.
Henne would be the more reliable backup and could even be the starter for the first part of the season. If Henne were to leave and sign with another team, the Jaguars would likely sit tight with Gabbert, asking him to once again serve as a backup and to help mentor the newbie quarterback. One thing Gabbert wasn't in his backup role in 2013 was a distraction. He remained positive and upbeat and still prepared himself every week as if he might get the starting call.
As general manager Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season, there was no downside in keeping Gabbert as a backup.
"At the very least, he's a very good backup and he's under contract, so there's no reason why not to keep him here," Caldwell said.
What the Jaguars will have to determine in the months ahead of the draft, is whether there is someone in the college ranks that they feel could lead the franchise to playoff contention within a year or two and do it on a regular basis after that. The club thought they had such a person in Gabbert, but it hasn't worked out that way for the past three years.
Caldwell wouldn't tip his hand as to how far he's leaning on drafting a quarterback with the third overall selection of this year's draft.
"We're not sure exactly who's going to be available in this class; there's still a handful of unknowns," he said. "And then there's a lot of evaluation that has to take place by Gus (head coach Gus Bradley), our position coaches, our scouts and our pro department. So I would prefer to reserve judgment on that until a later date."
Once that date comes, and Caldwell issues the first answer as to what the status is with the team in pursuing a quarterback in the first round of the draft, the answers to Henne and Gabbert's status with the team can also be answered. Until then, everything is in flux, including the future of Henne and Gabbert as Jaguars players.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--QB Chad Henne
--RB Maurice Jones-Drew
--OT Cam Bradfield
--DT Brandon Deaderick
--DT Kyle Love
--DB Will Blackmon.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Blaine Gabbert
- Chad Henne