Monday, February 24, 2014
Free-agency series: Quarterbacks
By Michael DiRocco
Here is the first of a 10-part series breaking down the Jaguars’ free-agency needs, position by position:
Who’s on the roster: Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Matt Scott and Ricky Stanzi.
Analysis: Henne’s contract expires in March and the team wants to sign him to an extension and GM David Caldwell said last week that it could get done before free agency beings on March 11. If both sides can work out a deal, Henne would go into the offseason as the team’s starter. He’s coming off a season in which he started 13 games and threw for 3,421 yards and 13 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He’s the first Jaguars quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season since David Garrard in 2009. Henne, who had nine TD passes and five interceptions in the final five games, didn’t tear it up but he did bring stability to the offense that had none when Gabbert was on the field. Gabbert’s 2014 contract is guaranteed so there’s no reason to cut him, and from conversations I’ve had with Jaguars personnel I get the impression that the team hasn’t completely given up on the former first-round pick. Stanzi joined the Jaguars in late September and spent most of the season as the team’s No. 3 quarterback. Scott spent the season on the practice squad but also worked at receiver on the scout team because of injuries at the position. The team is intrigued by his athleticism and he’ll get more of a chance to develop.
NFL free agents of interest: If Henne’s contract expires before the sides can work out a deal, he’ll be the team’s top target.
Need meter: 8. Everything the team does at this position revolves around signing Henne to an extension. The Jaguars want to keep him because they feel he’s the best option heading into 2014. Even if the Jaguars do draft a quarterback, GM David Caldwell said it’s unlikely they’ll be ready to play right away and Henne gives the team the best chance to win as the starter. He’d also be a good mentor to a young quarterback, a job the team does not want to leave to Gabbert. Gabbert did win the starting job in training camp last year before losing it because of his injuries and inconsistent play, so he could again beat out Henne or another quarterback but the Jaguars are better with Henne at the helm. Scott will be given a harder look this offseason.