JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When you have one of the least-talented rosters in the NFL, you’re not going to have much use for any of the franchise tags.
That’s the situation the Jaguars are in right now.
The team does have two notable impending free agents -- running back Maurice Jones-Drew and quarterback Chad Henne -- and neither will be given the franchise or transitional tag on Monday, the first day that teams can use those designations.
General manager David Caldwell has said several times that Jones-Drew has earned the right to test the market though he’s interested in re-signing the running back. By letting him test the market, Caldwell is risking Jones-Drew not giving the Jaguars a chance to match any offer.
Jones-Drew is after the kind of money that Steven Jackson (three years, $12 million, $4 million guaranteed), Reggie Bush (four years, $16 million, $4 million signing bonus) and Shonn Greene (three years, $10 million, $5 million guaranteed) got when they signed free-agent contracts in 2013.
In each case, the teams overpaid for backs past the midpoint of their careers, but teams usually do overpay for players during free agency. Jones-Drew is at the same point in his career. He’ll be 29 in March and he has significant wear and tear on his body: 2,233 touches (rushes, receptions, kick and punt returns) in eight seasons.
In watching him this past season, he clearly did not look similar to the player who led the NFL in rushing in 2011. He wasn’t as explosive through the hole and wasn’t able to get to the edge and turn the corner as well as he has in the past.
There’s no reason for the Jaguars to use even the transitional tag on Jones-Drew. If he doesn’t re-sign -- and he said at the end of the season it was about the money -- the Jaguars will move forward with Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, a draft pick or two, and possibly a mid-level free-agent signing of their own.
As far as Henne, Caldwell said he expects to reach out to Henne’s representatives soon to try to work out an extension before Henne’s contract expires in March. It would be ludicrous for the Jaguars to use a franchise tag on Henne because he would have to be paid a salary that averages to the top five (exclusive or non-exclusive tag) or the top 10 (transitional tag) paid QBs in the league.