After the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, all 32 teams officially entered the offseason and started plotting how they could position themselves for a shot at Super Bowl XLIX. Shutdown Corner will look at the offseason blueprint for each of the 32 NFL teams, presenting one team a day (using the 2014 draft order, starting with the Houston Texans and finishing with the Seahawks), leading you right up to the start of free agency on March 11.
2013 record: 4-12
Projected current salary-cap space (according to Spotrac): $50.2 million
Key free agents: QB Chad Henne, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, CB Will Blackmon
Possible salary-cap casualties: DE Jason Babin (also can declare himself a free agent), LB Paul Posluszny (likely to be restructured), OG Uche Nwaneri, TE Marcedes Lewis
Draft situation: All of their original picks, plus additional fourth-rounder and two fifth-rounders
Revisiting 2013: The Jaguars appeared to be the worst team in football, without much doubt, before a competitive loss to the Denver Broncos and their first win of the season, over the Tennessee Titans, in Week 10. From there, they ripped off three more wins in four games. Despite a disappointing finish, with three straight losses, the team showed some fire and vinegar under new head coach Gus Bradley, who clearly has blueprinted his team off his former one — the champion Seattle Seahawks.
Reasons for optimism: Bradley looks like a good young coach, and his players seemed to love playing for him this season. The staff showed off their energy coaching during Senior Bowl week, and it allowed them a firsthand look at some top draft picks. The Jaguars’ roster is extremely young, and another fresh bunch of talent could provide some interesting results over the next few seasons.
Glaring hole to fill: The Jaguars need a quarterback, but do they want to go headlong after one with a high draft pick or via a trade? Even if the team re-signs free agent Henne, the Jaguars’ options at quarterback are him, Blaine Gabbert, a rookie or (least likely) a veteran via trade. It’s perhaps not ideal, and owning the third pick in the draft likely puts them in a tough spot to find an elite option. Perhaps Derek Carr, whom the Jaguars coached at the Senior Bowl, is a possibility, but the third pick seems a bit rich for that.
Toughest decision: The team appears to be moving on from Jones-Drew, who has been the face of the franchise forever, and also could part with other heavily invested players — Lewis and Gabbert among them — in a clean-sweep operation. Who becomes the franchise leader? That player might not be on the roster now, and it puts a lot of pressure on Bradley to answer for the direction of the franchise.
Best-case offseason scenario: With all that salary-cap space, the Jaguars will be active, and their greatest needs (other than quarterback) are on the offensive and defensive lines, as well as at running back, receiver, tight end and linebacker. It seems like a lot, and it is, but the team can be smart spenders on a host of upper-middle-class free agents (such as Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith and Seahawks pass rusher Chris Clemons, if he's cut) and head into the draft with a clear vision of how it wants to attack things. The Jaguars want to become a play-action offense and an attacking defense, and look for the draft picks to reflect that direction.
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