‘Shutdown Corner’ offseason TPS report: Jacksonville Jaguars

Brian McIntyre
Shutdown Corner

Over the next few weeks, "Shutdown Corner" will pay homage to "Office Space" (TPS reports) as we take a quick look back at each team's 2012 season and a look at what lies ahead for the 2013 offseason. We now move to the AFC South and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

2012 record: 2-14

What went wrong: In setting a dubious franchise record with 14 losses, pretty much everything went badly for the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew skipped the entire offseason program in protest of his contract and first-round wide receiver Justin Blackmon was arrested for DUI. Veteran wide receiver Laurent Robinson, who was signed to a five-year, $32.5 million contract in March, missed over half the season due to concussions, while Jones-Drew missed the final 10 games with a foot injury.

In total, over 20 Jaguars were placed on some form of injured reserve list in 2012. That list included Jones-Drew and Robinson, as well as 2011 first-round quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who will enter his third NFL season playing for his third different offensive coordinator (Jedd Fisch). Given all the injuries the Jaguars sustained last season, it was not a surprise that their offense ranked 29th in total offense, 30th in rushing and scoring offense, and 31st in third-down percentage and time of possession, while the defense was 30th in total and rushing defense, 32nd in sacks per pass attempt and was tied for 29th in scoring defense. According to Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics, the Jaguars were 31st in team DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), ranking 25th or lower in offense (28th), defense (28th) and special teams (25th).

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What went right: Finding a silver lining was difficult, but the emergence of wide receiver Cecil Shorts would certainly qualify. Shorts was a non-factor as a rookie – two receptions in 16.91 percent playing-time – but stepped up in 2012, playing in 61.71 percent of the snaps and catching 55 passes for 979 yards and seven touchdowns, ranking 28th in Football Outsiders' DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) metric. Blackmon shrugged off a slow start to lead the Jaguars with 65 receptions, thanks largely to a final seven games where he caught 38 passes for 615 yards (16.2-yard average) and four of his five touchdowns. Outside linebacker Russell Allen lived up to the three-year, $7 million extension as the former undrafted free agent from San Diego State moved from core special teams player to starting outside linebacker. In 87.45 percent of the defensive snaps, Allen was second on team with 129 tackles, including 105 solo stops and a team-high nine tackles for loss. Kicker Josh Scobee earned his $13.8 million extension as he was a perfect 13-of-13 on field goal attempts under 39 yards and 12-of-15 on field goals from 40+ yards out.

Coaching/front office changes: Owner Shad Khan made sweeping changes in Jacksonville, firing general manager Gene Smith after the team's disappointing 2-14 season. To replace Smith, Khan hired David Caldwell, who had been the Atlanta Falcons' director of player personnel and had drawn interest from the New York Jets for their GM post. Caldwell made the decision to fire head coach Mike Mularkey after just one season and the Jaguars were one of two teams whose searches for a new head coach led them to the defensive side of the football, hiring Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

Estimated 2013 cap space: $25.86 million

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Possible cap casualties: With nearly $26 million in available cap space – before RFA tenders – the Jaguars are in good shape, but cuts could be made that would add even more space. Backup offensive linemen Jason Spitz, who spent 2012 on injured reserve, and Guy Whimper are scheduled to make a combined $2.825 million in base salary in 2013 and could be released. Veteran nickel cornerback Aaron Ross turns 31 in September and is due $3.75 million in cash in 2013, including a $1.5 million roster bonus that is due on March 16. Releasing Ross would shave $3.417 million off the Jaguars' cap.

Unrestricted free agents

Eben Britton, G/T
Derek Cox, CB
Rashad Jennings, RB
Greg Jones, FB
Terrance Knighton, DT
Rashean Mathis, CB
Brad Meester, OC
William Middleton, CB
Antwaun Molden, CB
Jordan Palmer, QB
Jalen Parmele, RB
Daryl Smith, LB
Steve Vallos, C/G

Restricted free agents:

Brock Bolen, FB
Kyle Bosworth, LB
John Estes, C/G
Zach Potter, TE
George Selvie, DE
Jordan Shipley, WR

RFA tender amounts in 2013 are:

• $1.323 million for right of first refusal and/or original draft round compensation
• $2.023 for right of first refusal and second round draft selection
• $2.879 for right of first refusal and first round draft selection

Franchise Tag candidates: Of the names on the Jaguars' list of potential unrestricted free agents, the one that stands out as a possibility in today's quarterback-driven NFL is cornerback Derek Cox.

The 2009 third-round pick out of William & Mary was an instant starter in the Jaguars' secondary and has 12 interceptions in his 47-game career, leading the team in interceptions (with four) in 2009, 2010 and 2012. The primary concern with Cox is that he's only played 47 games, missing over a seasons' worth of action over the last three seasons with a variety of injuries, including 10 games in 2011 and four games in 2012.

Cox has the size (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) to play the physical style that new head coach Gus Bradley wants from the cornerback position, but given his injury history, is Cox capable of playing that style of defense for 1,000 or more snaps over a 16-game season to warrant the use of the franchise tag? Based on a projected league-wide cap number of $121.1 million for 2013, the franchise tag for a cornerback will be worth $10.686 million in fully guaranteed base salary, which is probably too much guaranteed money in one season for a player who hasn't played a full slate of games since he was a rookie.

Previous installments of the "Offseason TPS Reports" series:

AFC East: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns

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