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Thursday, December 26, 2013
Handicapping Jaguars free agents

By Michael DiRocco

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks might be putting on his Jacksonville Jaguars jersey for the final time on Sunday.

He’s not the only one.

Numerous players could be playing their final game with the Jaguars on Sunday in Indianapolis. Some will be unrestricted free agents, others restricted free agents, and still others have at least one more year remaining on their contract but, might be cut because of salary issues.

Marks
Some might be back, either signed to new deals or agreeing to restructure their current contracts. Marks could be one of those players. He signed a one-year deal for $1.5 million with a $920,000 signing bonus in April, and will become an unrestricted free agent when the season ends.

The Jaguars certainly got a bargain, because Marks set career highs in sacks (four), passes defensed (eight), forced fumbles (two) and fumble recoveries (three) in 2013. He had three sacks, eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries in his first four seasons with Tennessee.

Strangely, Marks isn’t happy with what he’s done this season.

"On paper it’s shown that [he’s had a career year] but me, personally, no," he said. "You’re always hard on yourself. You’re never comfortable with where you’re at."

The sides have already had some tentative talks about Marks signing a longer deal, but Marks said he’s going to wait until after Sunday to worry about whether he’ll return to Jacksonville or not.

"I haven’t even thought about it, and if I do and start screwing up, it won’t help me," Marks said.

Below is a breakdown of the players that will be free agents at the end of the season. On Friday I’ll break down the list of notable players under contract for 2014 and beyond who might not be back.

UNRESTRICED FREE AGENTS

Henne
QB Chad Henne

Why he might be back: The Jaguars will need an older quarterback to help mentor whichever young player(s) the Jaguars draft, and possibly start games early in the season. He’s familiar with the system and has played well the second half of the season.

Why he might not: Henne might want to sign with a team where he can compete for the starting job.

My guess: He’s back.

Jones-Drew
RB Maurice Jones-Drew

Why he might be back: There might not be much of a market for a 29-year-old running back who has battled numerous injuries the past two seasons. The best offer he gets might be from Jaguars GM David Caldwell.

Why he might not: All it takes is one team to be interested. Jones-Drew also said he has a number in mind regarding salary. The Jaguars might offer him a deal loaded with performance incentives, and he might find that unreasonable.

My guess: I wasn’t so sure early in the season, but now I’m leaning toward him being back.

TE Clay Harbor

Why he might be back: He won’t cost much money, he’s familiar with the system, and he has shown some potential as a flex tight end.

Why he might not: His blocking has improved, but it still needs work.

My guess: I don’t see him being back.

OT Sam Young

Why he might be back: He certainly won’t cost a lot of money. He also seems to be pretty athletic for a 6-foot-8, 316-pounder, so his potential is intriguing.

Why he might not: He will be in his fifth year next season, so maybe he has hit his ceiling. The Jaguars also like Austin Pasztor and Cameron Bradfield.

My guess: He won’t be back.

DT Sen'Derrick Marks

Why he might be back: He has been the team’s best defensive lineman and has had a career year. At one point the sides were having some tentative talks, so it appears the Jaguars do want him to return. He’ll be 27 in February, so he’s still young enough to be a core building block on defense.

Why he might not: His season will certainly draw interest from other teams, and he might get an offer that’s larger than the Jaguars would like to pay.

My guess: He is clearly one of the leaders on defense, and I get the feeling he wants to stay in Jacksonville.

DT Brandon Deaderick

Why he might be back: He’s another young (he’ll be 27 in August) defensive lineman who could provide decent depth at a reasonable price.

Why he might not: The Jaguars are expected to revamp the defensive line in the offseason via free agency and the draft, so he might find himself in a numbers crunch.

My guess: I don’t think he returns.

Blackmon
CB Will Blackmon

Why he might be back: He signed as a free agent on Aug. 28 and has been a valuable member of the secondary, starting seven games and subbing as a punt returner early in the season. He’s a good depth guy and a great example for younger players. He’ll be 30 in October, so how many teams will be willing to invest in an older defensive back who has started just nine games in seven years?

Why he might not: Teams certainly will have taken notice of his contributions this season and, as is the case with Jones-Drew, it takes only one. The Jaguars aren’t going to offer a lot of money, either, so Blackmon could opt to go with a team that offers the best salary.

My guess: The Jaguars want to go young, but I think he’s back for one more year because of his leadership.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

TE Allen Reisner

Why he might be back: Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch likes to use multiple tight ends in his offense, and Reisner was the guy they used early in the season. He’s a better blocker than Harbor, but certainly not in the same category as Lewis.

Why he might not: He’s essentially the same player as Harbor, and doesn’t really give the Jaguars anything special.

My guess: He’s not back.

OT Cameron Bradfield

Why he might be back: He was forced into a starting job at left tackle when Luke Joeckel was hurt and has been solid. He has started 24 games in his three seasons, and can play both right and left tackle.

Why he might not: The coaching staff really likes Austin Pasztor at right tackle, and the team could opt to let Bradfield walk if he’s offered a contract from another team that is more than the Jaguars are willing to pay.

My guess: He’s back.