AFC South: Clint Ingram

Best of NFL: AFC South players

June, 28, 2011
6/28/11
2:00
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Best of NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

As part of Best of the NFL Week on ESPN.com, here are five bests for the AFC South:

Best nickname, “Pot Roast.” Jacksonville defensive tackle Terrance Knighton ordered it his rookie year in range of teammate Clint Ingram, and Ingram turned it into a nickname that stuck. Knighton’s gigantic to the point his weight has been an issue. But he’s a warm and funny guy who’s embraced the moniker rather than letting it bother him. It will become more widely known if and when he moves from lists of underrated players to lists of guys who are tops at their positions. He may also have the division’s best sack dance: he rubs his belly.

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan
AP Photo/David J. PhillipAndre Johnson (80) and Cortland Finnegan went toe-to-toe last season.
Best leader, Peyton Manning: No one does more to set a standard that teammates have to follow than Manning. His work ethic borders on ridiculous and his detailed one-on-one sessions with pass-catchers during the offseason pay dividends when games roll around. Young guys on the Colts step into serious expectations and know that if they can’t live up to them, they’ll be subject to a glare or worse from Manning, who wants everyone to be as prepared as he is and to execute as precisely as he does.

Best individual rivalry, Texans receiver Andre Johnson vs. Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan: They had some history before last season’s game in Houston when they had a big, well-documented and publicized fight. Finnegan got under the mild-mannered Johnson’s skin, provoking him. Johnson won the fight even as the Titans tried to play up and praise Finnegan’s restraint. Moving forward, every time the division rivals play, the matchup between one of the league’s best receivers and a cornerback who’s been a Pro Bowler and All Pro will be a story.

Best teammate, Titans fullback Ahmard Hall: Hall has a sense of the moment. He knows when to be funny and when to be serious. He’s a Marine who served in Kosovo, who made it into the league as a free agent after he wasn’t selected in the supplemental draft. The Titans lack leadership, and even though Hall is not on the field for all of the offensive snaps, he provides a follow-me work ethic and seems to get along with everyone in every situation.

Best tweeter, Jacksonville’s Austen Lane: Lane is the lone player in the NFL to appear on the first three versions of ESPN.com’s NFL Twindex, which rates the quality of recent Twitter activity of players. He’s consistently entertaining. “This is not an account...but a lifestyle,” reads his Twitter bio. “If you are not into hitting QB's or dropping Twitter Bombs from the skies then this lifestyle is not for you!” As of Monday afternoon, he had only 1,975 followers, which is too few for him to have a chance to get Taylor Swift’s attention, something he’s joked about wanting. Badly.
Let’s call Jaguars-at-Bills the “Cleaning House Bowl.”

Since Gene Smith took over as Jacksonville’s GM in 2009, the team has gotten rid of a slew of high draft picks made before he assumed power: Quentin Groves, Reggie Nelson, Clint Ingram, Matt Jones, Khalif Barnes, Reggie Williams and John Henderson.

Since Chan Gailey took over as coach of Buffalo on New Year’s Day, his team's overhaul has been smaller, but the Bills parted ways with three high-ranking players at premium positions -- releasing veteran pass rusher Aaron Schobel and quarterback Trent Edwards and trading running back Marshawn Lynch.

If it wasn’t working, you’ve got to tear it down in order to build it back up.

The Jaguars are certainly ahead of the Bills in that process, something they need to show in the form of a positive result Sunday in New York.
RTC = Reading the coverage. That's been the title of our daily wrap-up of stories from around the division from the beginning. But periodically, because of headline space constraints, we'll abbreviate.

Houston Texans

Jerome Solomon considers where Rick Smith fits in the pantheon of Houston’s GMs.

Texans records that need to change, from Alan Burge.

Ten questions with Shelley Smith (here) and with Trindon Holliday (here) from the team website.

Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning’s new teammate, Jacques McClendon, has to shift from fan to blocker, says Michael Marot.

The Colts are insistent that there is no shift in offensive philosophy underway and generally seem to hate the concept of shifting, says Stampede Blue. Are we supposed to think bigger linemen they've added are a mere coincidence?

Considering the order of the wide receivers with Mike Chappell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

When teams struggle, it’s usually because they lack talent, not because they quit, says Vic Ketchman.

Gene Smith’s been great, says Collin Streetman, but he objects to the Clint Ingram and John Henderson moves.

Tennessee Titans

Vince Young is raising money to help with flood relief, says Jim Wyatt.

Former Titan Samari Rolle is helping out new Titan Myron Rolle, a longtime friend but not a relative, writes Jim Wyatt.

Who’s been the Titans' best third-round pick, Andrew Strickert asks.
The Jaguars' roster purge under second-year general manager Gene Smith will continue Monday with the release of eight-year defensive tackle John Henderson, reports Adam Schefter.

Henderson was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2002 and went to the Pro Bowl twice. Paired with Marcus Stroud in the middle of the defensive line, he helped give the team a strong-up-the middle, physical identity.

But he has worn down and not been nearly up to his earlier standard in the last two seasons, and was called out by coach Jack Del Rio for sitting out minicamp sessions last year with a shoulder injury.

The Jaguars used their top two picks in the draft for interior defensive lineman -- Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith -- and are set to move on with those two, Terrance Knighton and Atiyyah Ellison as their defensive tackles.

Jacksonville tried to move Henderson during the draft, but clearly had no takers -- more evidence of how little value veteran players had during the three-day draft.

Schefter also reports that the Jaguars have withdrawn their RFA tender offer to linebacker Clint Ingram, who becomes unrestricted. A trade for Kirk Morrison Saturday gives the Jaguars an upgrade, and they will now play with Morrison in the middle, flanked by Daryl Smith and Justin Durant.

That makes for three first- and second-round picks the Jaguars have dumped in recent days. Along with Henderson and Ingram, they traded Quentin Groves to Oakland for a fifth-round pick.

The team now has just six of 15 first- and second-round draft picks from its seven drafts from 2000 through 2006 on the roster:

A lot of you send me notes asking for dirt on the other bloggers. I remain true to our code: Rip Tim Graham, protect all others.

These guys are very handy when I need someone to have a beer with the night before an NFL event, or if I want to poach an idea for a post.

So I have pilfered this one from NFC South ace Pat Yasinskas.

Here are four guys and one group of guys from the AFC South who should probably be a little nervous about what unfolds in the draft, though I am sure they are all saying bring it on.

Shaun Cody. The Texans need interior push, and they didn’t get enough of it with Cody starting alongside Amobi Okoye. The rush ends, Mario Williams, Antonio Smith and Connor Barwin -- need the help. While Smith kicks inside some, the Texans will be looking for an inside presence who can get in the backfield. (And if Okoye isn’t better alongside that guy, the clock on him starts ticking faster and louder.)

David Thornton. I believe the Titans believe he has reached his breaking point. Literally. His body can’t hold up any longer. I expect they will go with Will Witherspoon, Stephen Tulloch and Gerald McRath as their starting trio. Draft a good linebacker who can provide athleticism and Thornton could become more expendable. (No, I don't see them re-signing Keith Bulluck.)

Clint Ingram. Daryl Smith is an up-and-comer and Justin Durant can play. But the Jaguars appear primed to add another linebacker to complete the starting group. I can see them pouncing on Rolando McClain if he’s available at No. 10. Which wouldn’t bode well for Ingram, a restricted free agent who’s not yet signed his tender but is working out with the team.

Charlie Johnson. He’s signed his tender and is going to remain a versatile offensive lineman who has the coaches’ confidence. But the team could well grab a left tackle type who’s a better run-blocker than Johnson early in the draft. That could kick Johnson inside or it could mean he’s back to the top sub.

Texans’ interior offensive linemen. They ended the season with Kasey Studdard at left guard, Chris Myers at center and Chris White at right guard. Mike Brisiel will be back from injury, they’ve signed Wade Smith as a free agent and Antoine Caldwell should be better in his second season. Another interior guy in the draft will set off a full-fledged competition with some incumbents on the roster bubble.
NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Can Jacksonville bring in a draft class that has an impact like last year’s?

It’s a bit of a trick question. Last year’s team had glaring holes and a lot of room for rookies to nudge into the starting lineup.


Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesThe Jaguars got production right away from rookie Terrance Knighton in 2009.
The four players the Jaguars drafted in the first three rounds in 2009 combined to start 60 of a possible 64 games. Left tackle Eugene Monroe, right tackle Eben Britton, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and cornerback Derek Cox improved as the year went on and have very bright futures.

Can Gene Smith match that in his second draft as he searches for pass rush help, an interior offensive lineman, a safety, a linebacker and an additional offensive playmaker?

The formula he’s put in place seems a good one. Smith is a longtime scout who relies on his scouts. He rates character and leadership as important, giving extra long looks to guys who captained their college teams. He’s unafraid of small schools and players who haven’t gotten a lot of publicity -- see Knighton out of Temple and Cox from William & Mary.

The Jaguars' 2010 rookie class will have opportunity for sure. But I don’t expect they’ll finish the season with five first-year guys starting at season’s end as they did last season with the four high picks and undrafted linebacker Russell Allen filling in for the injured Clint Ingram.

The expectations will be more conventional, and at this point there is no reason to think Smith can’t find a group that can meet them. I expect the questions will be about the ability of Jack Del Rio and his staff to coach guys up again and have them ready when called upon.

RFA inaction update

April, 13, 2010
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We’ve seen little overall action on restricted free agents, and no RFA from the AFC South has signed an offer sheet anywhere.

I think teams should be more active in this department, as I discussed here.

Shockingly, no one in power listened to me there.

It’s news when a restricted free agent signs his tender, sure. I saw several of those from around the league flashing across Twitter during my recent vacation.

But the real news would be one of them not ultimately signing it. I’m not going to devote too many blog posts to RFAs following through on their only real option. We’ll see more and more of these soon.

The deadline for signing an offer sheet with another team is Thursday.

Then, if a guy really wants a chance to be traded during the draft, he’s got to be under contract when calls are made and the paperwork needs to be turned quickly. Think he creates a lot of leverage by not signing the tender?

On June 15, old clubs can pull tender offers to unsigned RFAs and still keep exclusive rights by substituting an offer of 110 percent of 2009’s salary.

Here is the status of RFAs who were tendered in the division.

Houston

Indianapolis

Jacksonville

Tennessee

Toni Monkovic looks at a project that intends to grade talent evaluators.

Houston Texans

A thorough look at the state of the Texans from Stephanie Stradley.

A look at five-year draft grades from Alan Burge.

Indianapolis Colts

Indy Football Report’s first mock draft has the Colts taking Maurkice Pouncey.

Mike Chappell takes questions.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike Sims-Walker's catches were originally intended for Troy Williamson. Vic Ketchman looks at the speedy receiver.

Collin Streetman considers what to do with Reggie Hayward, Clint Ingram and Reggie Nelson.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans believe Leroy Harris is ready, says Jim Wyatt.

A video preview of 2010 from the team’s Web site.

Mailbag: How we operate

March, 6, 2010
3/06/10
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Robert in Los Angeles writes: Hey PK, I typically enjoy your stuff and even when you say negative things about the Colts, I don’t have a problem with it. I mean it’s your job, you call it like you see it. However, there is one article you wrote about that irked me. Calling out Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell when not wanting to discuss what happened in Super Bowl 44. You say (paraphrasing here) "if past is prologue then you must talk about it." Well I’ll counter that with a phrase Tony Dungy coined during his tenure as head coach of the Colts: "The only way to erase disappointment is to move forward.”

Paul Kuharsky: I appreciate the note.

I think you miss my point on “past is prologue.” Polian uses that as his rationale for not talking about the past. Prologue means preface or introduction, so if the past is the introduction to the future, than how can you not use it to talk about what you are introducing? He needs a new crutch quote.

The Colts played 19 games. For 18 they talked about them after the game and then after watching film. There is a big difference between saying after the game “we botched the onside kick, they got us there, hats off to them” and saying after watching film of the game why and how they botched the onsides kick.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that second conversation. What would you think if on a regular-season Monday, Caldwell took the podium and said “That game is in the past, I’m not going to field any questions on it.” Would be weird, no?

All I am saying is that after No. 19, they should do the same as they did after No. 1-18. I’m not eager to talk about the Super Bowl now – it’s ancient history. But if you hide Caldwell until a month after the game and he never has to answer for the questionable decisions he made in the Super Bowl simply because time has passed, is that fair to fans who are still tortured by the loss?

Do you get to not answer tough questions at work by using stall tactics?

Dungy is a reasonable man, and I’m sure he would say that while moving forward quickly is healthy, you also need to put the past to bed in order to do so. The Colts, in my eyes, could have done a far better job of that. I think even the most staunch fan of the organization who trusts in everything Polian does has to admit his PR year wasn’t good with the way he handled speaking of the unimportance of an undefeated season and the way he conducted himself at his season-ending press conference. At least he had one. It’s disappointing Caldwell did not.

Finally, in a real world context: If you had a bad day at work, how would it fly if you just told your coworkers and the people who were responsible for funding a big piece of your business, “Never mind that, let’s not look back, I’m moving forward? The only way to erase disappointment is to move forward.” We both know the answer to that one.

Chase from Chandler, Ariz., writes: Your disinterest and overall stature is annoying to the point I can't check your link. You should, A) Go get your "Dream job" at the New York Times if they have a desire for an individual with the equivalency of child’s writing skills, or B) Find a new field. I find it humorous that you're asked to do a chat every Thursday, yet your answers consist of nothing more than "NOOOOOOOOOOOO" or my favorite "why?” I thought as a blogger your objective is to give valuable insight that answers your reader's questions with thoroughness, why do you not understand that concept?

Paul Kuharsky: I love my job, I assure you.

In chats and mailbags, I can play to the lowest common denominator or the highest. I prefer the highest. It helps encourage a semi-sophisticated and more fun dialogue and it keeps my smartest, cleverest readers coming back. Without them you should see what things can devolve to.

When people ask me questions I don’t really get, “why” seems a completely appropriate response. And often they cannot answer it.

“The Colts should let their running backs and receivers throw more on trick plays?” Why? You don’t prefer why to “That’s an incredibly foolish thing to suggest as they have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time back there to throw." Is B better? “The Titans should switch to a 4-3.” After four or five times explaining how drastic a shift that is and how they do not have the personnel or philosophy to fit it, “Why?” becomes a good answer again.

I understand the concept and I hope if you read the blog for a day or a week you’ll find quite a bit of the valuable insight and thoroughness you seek.

And good questions produce blog posts, mailbag answers and chat responses. The more the better for me, honestly. Some of the bad ones have to be answered too. But many of my readers appreciate that we don’t spend a great deal of time on silly or nonsensical stuff and I don’t see that changing.

My personality is a major ingredient in the blog, and I’m not super patient. Sorry that’s not your preferred style or method.

Jacob in Pittsburgh writes: Hey Paul, I liked your analysis of where Tim Tebow might land, but I had one question. In the Texans portion, you stated that the strengths of the backup quarterback should match the strengths of the starter. But then in the Titans section you argued that they should get a traditional pocket passer to be the backup for Vince Young. Why wouldn't they want to acquire a backup that can perform all the bootlegs, options, and designed QB runs that they have for Young?

Paul Kuharsky: I contradicted myself there, didn’t I? Here’s why.

I’m a pocket passer guy. So if you’ve got a good pocket passer, like Matt Schaub, I’m all for his backup being in his image.

Vince Young is, at least, capable of being other worldly when it comes to being a running quarterback. The guy behind him, even if it was Tebow, isn’t going to match VY’s physical gifts. In the Titans’ case, I’d rather see them developing a young guy who is a more conventional drop back guy as an alternative to VY.

You’d like No. 2 to match the strengths of No. 1. But when No. 1’s strength is being unlike anyone else, it doesn’t really work.

Kevin Fitzpatrick in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., writes: Paul, if the Jaguars don’t re-sign Clint Ingram they are going to be extremely thin at linebacker. Also with them not being big spenders in free agency I’m not sure who is out there that would meet their price. From what I’ve read over the last week on jaguars.com it almost makes me believe they will select the linebacker from Alabama, Rolando McClain, but then if they do that we'll be short on the defensive line. I just don’t know how they are going to have any depth at linebacker or end this year. What would you suggest?

Paul Kuharsky: I appreciate your consistent readership and participation.

Ingram got his tender and I’d expect him to be back. They need depth at backer and even more at end. I’d like to see them re-sign Reggie Hayward, draft an end and find a guy with upside like they did with Atiyyah Ellison at tackle last year.

Jim in Memphis writes: I always enjoy the blog and check it regularly. Although Kyle Vanden Bosch says he doesn't feel snubbed by the Titans, do you believe him? Do you think this affects other free agents' view of the Titans? If so, how? I'd like to see Jeff Fisher take a page out of Jim Schwartz's book! Chances of that? About as much as Tiger doing an interview with Barbara Walters.

Paul Kuharsky: I believe him. He understands the ways of the league. It’s not a big loyalty business. The Titans should have communicated with him better, earlier.

But what good does it do them to come out and say “We think he’s not worth the money he’s expecting?”

Let him hit the market. If it’s dry, two months from now, if you’ve not filled the hole, maybe all a sudden there is a chance to reunite. There won’t be if you killed it by being brutally honest about him eight weeks earlier.

Here’s what will impact other free agents with regard to the Titans: How much money do they offer?

No, I don’t see Fisher scouting out a free agent at hit family home at 12:01.

Mike in Philadelphia writes: I am a huge Titans fan, but do you think there is any truth about us considering Kirk Morrison?

Paul Kuharsky: C’mon now. You have to differentiate speculation and discussion from reporting. I wrote a post about potential RFA fits and mentioned Morrision and the Titans. You can’t make the jump to them being interested until someone reports that they are.
The first move of the free agency period in the AFC South was hardly earth-shattering: Houston punter Matt Turk re-signed with the Texans for a year.

Agent David Canter revealed the news in a tweet and did not share financial terms.

Also, the league sent out the official list of RFA tenders so we have info on the guys who were missing.

Jacksonville put a third-round tender on linebacker Clint Ingram and did not tender defensive lineman Greg Peterson.

The Colts put second-round tenders on Charlie Johnson, Melvin Bullitt, Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir. The did not tender Hank Baskett, Tyjuan Hagler, Freddy Keiaho, or T.J. Rushing.

That makes for four defensive backs the Colts passes on retaining -- Marlin Jackson, Tim Jennings and Aaron Francisco were also not tendered.

The RFA tender lists of the Texans and Titans were previously complete.

Aaron Wilson reports that former Titans coordinator Jim Schwartz is at Kyle Vanden Bosch's Nashville home trying to recruit the unrestricted defensive end.
A few updates on developments in the division as the clock ticks toward the start of the new league year:

The Colts have reportedly declined to offer restricted free-agent tenders to Marlin Jackson, Tim Jennings and Aaron Francisco. Jackson is the surprise. He tore up a knee for the second time in two years this season. But in time -- if his rehab goes well -- I’m certain someone will jump at him and could get a good player with a cheap incentive-laden contract.

No word yet on tenders for nine other Colts who are slated to become restricted free agents.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, signed defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison to a contract, preventing him from becoming a restricted free agent. They also signed reserve guard Kynan Forney, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent. No word on tender offers for Clint Ingram, the linebacker, or defensive lineman Greg Peterson, the teams’ only other restricted free agents to-be.

AFC South: Free-agency primer

March, 4, 2010
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Houston Texans

Potential unrestricted free agents: CB Dunta Robinson, WR Kevin Walter, RB Chris Brown, DT Jeff Zgonina, G Chester Pitts, S Brian Russell, S Nick Ferguson, LS Bryan Pittman, LB Chaun Thompson, QB Rex Grossman, LB Khary Campbell, G Tutan Reyes, T Ephraim Salaam, P Matt Turk.

Potential restricted free agents: DL Tim Bulman, S John Busing, OT Rashad Butler, TE Owen Daniels, RB Ryan Moats, S Bernard Pollard, LB DeMeco Ryans, G Chris White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: I don’t think the Texans will jump out and make any monumental moves. But by deciding not to tag Robinson they created another hole and saved themselves big dollars. With needs at corner, running back, free safety, interior offensive line and defensive tackle they may have more than they can address in one draft. That means they could jump out for one significant free agent – like they did last year with defensive lineman Antonio Smith -- and maybe another less expensive one or two.

Indianapolis Colts

Potential unrestricted free agents: MLB Gary Brackett, K Matt Stover.

Potential restricted free agents: WR Hank Baskett, S Antoine Bethea, S Melvin Bullitt, OL Dan Federkeil, CB Aaron Francisco, LB Tyjuan Hagler, CB Marlin Jackson, CB Tim Jennings, DT Antonio Johnson, OT Charlie Johnson, LB Freddy Keiaho, DT Dan Muir, CBPR T.J. Rushing.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: Brackett is priority one and the team has indicated a plan to pay him as an upper-echelon guy. The restricted list includes a lot of key guys who will remain big factors next year. Indy is not a team that looks to bring in many outsiders for big roles and it won’t start now. Bill Polian’s said the Colts will sit back and see how things unfold in the new capless landscape.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Reggie Hayward, G Kynan Forney.

Potential restricted free agents: DT Atiyyah Ellison, LB Clint Ingram, DL Greg Peterson.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Jaguars are draft-reliant, but will also shop for bargains in free agency, hoping to plug a couple holes with high-character guys with upside who fit what they are doing. As for a big splash, it’s unlikely based on their recent busts with big-name free agents like Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence and the direction they’ve moved since.

Tennessee Titans

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, C Kevin Mawae, LB Keith Bulluck, TE Alge Crumpler, CB Nick Harper, CB Rod Hood, DE Jevon Kearse, S Kevin Kaesviharn.

Potential restricted free agents: DE Dave Ball, DT Tony Brown, TE Bo Scaife, LB Stephen Tulloch, DT Kevin Vickerson, RB LenDale White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Titans will undergo a youth movement, especially on defense where Vanden Bosch and Bulluck, who’s recovering from ACL repair, are going to be allowed to walk. Mawae been told his only chance to return is as a backup at a backup price. Brown, Scaife and Tulloch are important guys they’ll want to retain. Beyond that, expect mostly bargain shopping.

RFA tender update

March, 4, 2010
3/04/10
9:03
AM ET
Restricted free-agent tenders have to be done before midnight ET. Here's what's out so far:

Houston

From John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Indianapolis

Bethea info from Adam Schefter.

Jacksonville

Tennessee

From Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

A look at restricted free agency

February, 19, 2010
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It’s a whole new offseason world starting March 5, and we have no experience from which to predict what happens in an uncapped year. There are enough restrictions on the players’ side to offset the Wild West so many initially projected.

One area I am really curious to see is restricted free agency. Because there are fewer unrestricted free agents (it takes six years to get there now, not four), will teams be more protective of their RFAs and more aggressive in terms of signing RFAs from outside to offer sheets?

I certainly think a creative front office that can go after the right guys can lure them away or at least get a trade conversation going.

Teams must tender their RFAs by the end of March 4. Here are the levels of tags:

With no CBA by March 5, and we aren’t expecting one, here are the RFAs for each team in the AFC South, according to the NFLPA.

Houston

Indianapolis

Jacksonville

Tennessee

Free agency: AFC South

February, 15, 2010
2/15/10
1:03
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AFC Free Agency: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

An early look at the free-agent situation in the AFC South.

Note: These projected lists reflect notable unrestricted free agents for each team. The NFL will not issue an official list of free agents until the signing period begins March 5.

[+] EnlargeGary Brackett
AP Photo/Darron CummingsThe Colts would be hard-pressed to replace Gary Brackett's production and leadership.
Indianapolis Colts

Unrestricted free agents: LB Gary Brackett, K Matt Stover

Key figures: Indianapolis has a long history of letting linebackers walk, but middle linebacker Gary Brackett is a special player and a special case. A great tackler and a great leader, the drop-off without him would be significant. And while the Colts surely will be looking to stick to a budget even in what’s looking like a cap-less environment, they can, and should, find a way to ensure he’s part of the 2010 team.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Unrestricted free agents: DE Reggie Hayward, TE Ernest Wilford

Key figures: Defensive end Reggie Hayward broke his left leg in the 2009 opener and was finished for the season. For a team trying to build a pass rush, maybe he still can be a valuable veteran presence. Three restricted guys are of note: linebacker Clint Ingram, defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison and receiver Troy Williamson.

Houston Texans

Unrestricted free agents: CB Dunta Robinson, WR Kevin Walter

Key figures: The lack of a CBA will benefit the Texans more than anyone in the division, because middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans and tight end Owen Daniels will be restricted rather than unrestricted. Cornerback Dunta Robinson was ticked off at being franchised last year. Will they do it again? Receiver Kevin Walter didn’t have a great year, but is a valuable piece who could be attractive to a team looking for a No. 2 wideout.

Tennessee Titans

Unrestricted free agents: Eugene Amano, LB Keith Bulluck, TE Alge Crumpler, CB Nick Harper, P Craig Hentrich, DE Jevon Kearse, C Kevin Mawae, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch

Key figures: Tennessee has more issues than anyone else in the division. Center Kevin Mawae, linebacker Keith Bulluck and end Kyle Vanden Bosch are all unrestricted. Four others will be restricted thanks to the lack of a new CBA -- running back LenDale White, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, defensive tackle Tony Brown and tight end Bo Scaife. Expect a defensive retooling.

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