Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Bennett

RTC: Chad Henne a key player

March, 5, 2014
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The Jaguars are hoping to sign quarterback Chad Henne to an extension over the next few days because he can still be a key player for the team as GM David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley continue to try and turn the franchise around, writes the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran.

Henne is 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 an offense that had none when Blaine Gabbert was on the field.

Caldwell said at the NFL combine that better offensive line play and additional playmakers would allow Henne to keep the team "afloat."

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette writes that the release of veteran guard Uche Nwaneri is another sign the Jaguars' offensive line needs to be fixed.

Grantland's Bill Barnwell writes that the larger salary cap won't benefit every team. It hurts teams like the Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders because "the deep pockets of the league's worst teams look far less appealing."

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, a potential target for the Jaguars in free agency, said on SiriusXM satellite radio on Monday that he's looking forward to remaining with the Seahawks.

NFL.com's Elliot Harrison takes an offseason look at the AFC South and breaks down each team's top needs in free agency and the draft.
Here is the seventh of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:

Defensive end

Who's on the roster: Tyson Alualu, Jason Babin, Andre Branch, Ryan Davis, Will Pericak, D'Aundre Reed and Gerald Rivers.

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.

NFL free agents of interest: Michael Johnson and Michael Bennett.

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.
Creating more pressure on the quarterback is one of the Jaguars' top priorities this offseason. They can start by being aggressive in free agency.

The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the Jaguars should target Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson now that Carolina has used the franchise tag on Greg Hardy. At 270 pounds, Johnson is big enough to move inside to play tackle on passing downs, which would allow the Jaguars to get another rusher on the field.

Seattle's Michael Bennett and/or Chris Clemons are other players Jaguars should target, O'Halloran writes. Oakland's Lamarr Houston, Detroit's Willie Young and Minnesota's Everson Griffin are other potential targets, too.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

NFL.com has a list of which players were tagged by their teams.

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks poses 10 questions facing draft prospects at their pro days.

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco lists the players he believes each team should keep in free agency. Chad Henne is his pick for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars have had 74 draft picks over the past 10 years, yet have selected a quarterback just once. All but two of the remaining NFL teams have selected at least three quarterbacks over that span.

The Jaguars' reluctance to address the most important position on the field is a trend that has to change this year, writes Florida Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette. The Jaguars have to draft one -- and maybe even two -- quarterbacks this May.

Frenette writes that it's nearly impossible to conceive a scenario in which the Jaguars bypass a quarterback in the first two rounds. "They can't stick to a quarterback draft strategy that has been stubborn, if not idiotic, for way too long."

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

The T-U's Hays Carlyon writes that linebacker Paul Posluszny enjoyed his first Pro Bowl experience and is eager to return. Here's more from Posluszny from John Oehser of Jaguars.com.

The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the price to retain pass-rusher Michael Bennett is rising and it may become too much for Seattle, which has to have cap room to re-sign Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman -- all of whom are key players still on their rookie contracts. The Jaguars should take a long look at Bennett, O'Halloran writes.

Here's my story on former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, who was the South MVP of the Senior Bowl. His goal is to be the next Lawrence Taylor.

Most of the 320 players in an NFL Nation confidential survey said they'd play in the Super Bowl with a concussion. Nine of the 10 Jaguars players surveyed said the same thing.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

January, 23, 2014
1/23/14
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Got questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I’ll try to answer a representative selection of them every Thursday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Just because the Jaguars aren't playing in the conference championship games on Sunday doesn't mean general manager David Caldwell won't be watching either game.

There may be a few future Jaguars on the field.

The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran lists eight players scheduled to become free agents that the Jaguars could target, including New England running back LeGarrette Blount and center Ryan Wendell and Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

ESPN.com Tennessee Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky breaks down the Titans' hiring of Ken Whisenhunt as their new head coach. Kuharsky writes that it may be a very good hire if Whisenhunt solves the issues he had during his short stint as the Arizona Cardinals' head coach.

Some items from this blog: The replacement for center Brad Meester may already be on the roster and reviewing the play of the defensive ends.

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