Here is the seventh of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:
Analysis: Babin, Branch and Rivers play the leo position, which is essentially a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid whose main purpose is to rush the passer. Babin led the Jaguars with 7.5 sacks in 2013 but his spot on the roster for 2014 is tenuous because of his high salary cap number ($6.175 million) and age (he turns 34 in May). He said he's willing to re-negotiate his contract so he can stay in Jacksonville but the team may choose instead to cut him as part of a youth movement. Branch looked like a bust but improved steadily throughout the 2013 season, thanks to better consistency, and finished with six sacks and tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (10). He also had the second-most quarterback pressures (nine) behind Babin's team-high 19. The other defensive end spot is not really asked to rush the passer much and Alualu did a solid job there in the run game (44 tackles). Davis got more playing time after the team released Jeremy Mincey and the 25-year-old certainly has a much bigger upside than Mincey.
Need meter: 10. The Jaguars have finished last in the NFL in sacks in each of the past two seasons and finding a pass-rusher is the team's top priority along with quarterback. The Jaguars will sign at least one pass-rusher in free agency and it may be a mid-level player like Johnson. It's going to cost a lot to sign Johnson and the Jaguars may not be willing to invest that much money in someone now, especially with the abundance of pass rushers available in the top part of the draft.