Jacksonville Jaguars: Uche Nwaneri

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have at least one outside supporter of their decision to not play rookie quarterback Blake Bortles this season: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers went through the same thing, playing in only seven games in his first three seasons after the Packers took him with the 24th overall selection in the 2005 NFL draft. Playing early makes sense for a rookie quarterback if the team has talent around him, Rodgers said.

"What they are doing has a lot of merit," Rodgers told SportsonEarth.com's Dan Pompei. "Some of these guys who are going to bad teams are expected to play well right away. It's hard to do that. I've seen a couple guys able to do it. [Ben] Roethlisberger was able to do it. He had a team kind of around him. [Joe] Flacco had some success early, but he had a team kind of in place. You go to a place that has some pieces and you can have some success early. But if you go to a team that doesn't have the pieces ... it can really mess with your confidence."

In Rodgers' case, the Packers also had Brett Favre as their starting quarterback. Rodgers took over as the starter in 2008 and has thrown for 4,000-plus yards in four of the six seasons since becoming the starter.

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

The Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon writes that former Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri has signed a free-agent contract with Dallas.

The T-U's Bill Bortzfield writes that the video boards in the south end zone at EverBank Field are almost complete.

Former Jaguars running back Justin Forsett writes about marriage in his guest column for The Sporting News.

Yahoo! Sports fantasy writer Andy Behrens breaks down the Jaguars' fantasy options for 2014.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The upcoming NFL draft will be the 20th in Jacksonville Jaguars history, not counting the expansion draft.

To commemorate that milestone, I’m looking back at each draft and giving you the best and worst selections in each round. Today is the fifth round and the first round will appear on Tuesday, April 15 -- appropriate since that’s the day taxes are due and first rounders make the most money.

These rankings are based on what the player did with the Jaguars. If they failed to produce with the Jaguars but had success somewhere else -- whether they left as free agents, were cut and caught on somewhere else, or traded -- that’s a negative.

I’m expecting some disagreement, which is fine. Your feedback is welcomed (click the email link at the bottom), and I’m going to post some of the best comments (read: those without profanity) on April 16.

Here we go...

Round 5

Best pick

Royster
Scobee
This was an easy choice because kicker Josh Scobee is clearly the best player the Jaguars have drafted in the fifth round.

Scobee, taken with the 137th pick in 2004 out of Louisiana Tech, is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer (939 points and counting) and holds team career records for field goals (215) and field goal percentage (81.1) and his streak of 20 consecutive made field goals is tied with Mike Hollis for the franchise record.

Scobee has made four of the longest field goals in Jaguars history, including a 59-yarder to beat Indianapolis in 2010, and he has made 36 field goals from 50 or more yards.

Scobee, who turns 32 in June, has two years remaining on a four-year, $13.8 million contract he signed in July 2012.

Honorable mention

Nwaneri
G Uche Nwaneri (2007), who was released earlier this month, played 104 games (92 starts) for the Jaguars. He played in 16 games in five of his seven seasons, including the 2013 season in which he played every snap. He was part of an offensive line that helped Maurice Jones-Drew lead the NFL in rushing in 2011 with 1,606 yards.

CB Jason Craft (1999) played in 71 games (33 starts) and intercepted seven passes in five seasons with the Jaguars. Craft played 10 years in the NFL and finished his career with 14 interceptions, 42 pass breakups, and eight forced fumbles.

S Gerald Sensabaugh (2005) played in 50 games (24 starts) and intercepted six passes in four seasons with the Jaguars but had a little more success in four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (eight interceptions, 24 pass breakups). Sensabaugh started 60 of the 62 games he played for the Cowboys.

C John Wade (1998) played in 54 games (34 starts) in five seasons with the Jaguars before spending six more years in the NFL with Tampa Bay and Oakland. He appeared in 131 games (110 starts).

TE Damon Jones (1997) caught 41 passes for 550 yards and 11 touchdowns in five seasons with the Jaguars.

Worst pick

It’s still somewhat hard to criticize a fifth-round pick that didn’t make it, because teams are still looking for contributors -- not starters or Pro Bowlers -- in that round. But in the Jaguars’ case, there were two draft picks that stood out among all the others drafted between 1995-2011.

Punter David Leaverton (2001) and defensive back Trae Williams (2008) were the only players the Jaguars drafted in the fifth round that didn’t play in at least four NFL games in their careers. Leaverton and Williams never saw the field and Leaverton was the only player who never even made an NFL roster.

Honorable mention

S Josh Gattis (2007) didn’t make the Jaguars’ roster but played in four games that season with Chicago.

CB Chris Thompson (2004) didn’t play in a game for the Jaguars as a rookie but played in 12 the following season for Chicago.

CB Rod Issac (2011) played in just three games with the Jaguars as a rookie.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It would be hard for the Jacksonville Jaguars to blow their first-round draft pick.

General manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley have so much talent from which to choose at No. 3 that it would be hard to find fault with whatever decision they made. Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins, Greg Robinson, or any of the three quarterbacks are all good options.

The same applies for the second round as well, especially if the Jaguars are going offense because Caldwell said this is a deep draft for offensive talent.

It's on the third day of the draft, however, where it gets a lot tougher. How the Jaguars perform in Rounds 4-7 will be the key to the success of the draft, Bradley said.

"I think that's where we really have to do well," Bradley said. "The first round, obviously, and the second round you have to do some things there. But this draft will be determined by how well we do in those rounds.

"Example: Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, guys like that can make a big difference there. We focus on all areas, but that's an area that we've got to concentrate on, too."

Sherman (2011) and Chancellor (2010) were both fifth-round picks who developed into key members of the Seattle secondary. That's the kind of result for which the Jaguars are hoping for this year.

They've set themselves up with enough ammunition. Because of trades with Baltimore, Detroit and San Francisco, the Jaguars have eight picks in rounds 4-7, including three in fifth round. That should increase their odds of finding at least one player who could develop into a starter.

In reality, though, they're fighting against tradition. Looking back over the past 10 years of fifth-round picks by every NFL team doesn't exactly reveal a lot of success. There are some familiar names -- Sherman, Chancellor, Riley Cooper, Chris Clemons (the defensive back), Rob Ninkovich, and Brent Celek, for example -- but the majority of the picks turned into marginal players at best or were out of the league within a year or two.

The Jaguars haven't had much success with players selected in rounds 4-7 over the past decade, either. They hit on three in 2004 -- receiver Ernest Wilford (fourth), kicker Josh Scobee (fifth) and defensive end Bobby McCray (seventh) -- but since then only five players taken in those round became significant contributors: safety Gerald Sensabaugh (fifth round in 2005), guard Uche Nwaneri (fifth round in 2007), running back Rashad Jennings (seventh round in 2009), receiver Mike Thomas (fourth round in 2009) and receiver Cecil Shorts (fourth round in 2011).

It's too early to tell if any of the players taken in rounds 4-7 the past two seasons will become significant contributors, but it appears the team hit on receiver Ace Sanders (fourth round in 2013).

Bradley said the Jaguars will try to find players in those rounds that fit a specific role. Sanders, for example, was drafted to be the team's punt returner. It's the same approach they used in free agency with linebacker Dekoda Watson, a special teams standout who played situationally on defense with Tampa Bay. The Jaguars project him as a strongside linebacker on first and second downs and a leo on third down.

"For us he was intriguing. We have a spot for him," Bradley said. "We know exactly where we want to play him. That's what can happen [in] the fifth, sixth round. Hey, we really like this guy. We have a spot that he can come in and do some good things."

Find enough of those guys on the third day and Bradley will consider the draft a success.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars took the first step toward rebuilding the interior of their offensive line pretty quickly in free agency by reaching an agreement with former Denver Broncos guard Zane Beadles.

Beadles
The deal, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan, is worth $30 million over five years with $13 million guaranteed.

The offensive line was the Jaguars' top priority in free agency because of the retirement of center Brad Meester and the release of right guard Uche Nwaneri last week. The team obviously wanted an upgrade over Will Rackley, Mike Brewster, Jacques McClendon and Drew Nowak.

It's a good move by Jaguars general manager David Caldwell. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Beadles is a tough, durable player who has started 62 of a possible 64 games in the regular season since the Broncos selected him in the second round of the 2010 draft. The Broncos led the NFL in total offense and were 15th in rushing (117.1 yards per game) last season.

UPDATE: Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said Beadles was the team's primary offensive line target.

"He’s very intelligent, he’s very competitive and he’s very smart," Caldwell said. "We did a lot of work on him in Atlanta when he was coming out. He’s had a heck of a career to-date. I think he’s played in every game possible in his four years in Denver. He played in the Pro Bowl in 2012. He’s a guy with a proven track record. He’s still only 27 years old. He’s very passionate about football. I think he checks the box for everything we look for in a player and I think you guys know what that is in this culture.”

Beadles, who will play left guard, is a good fit for the Jaguars because like the Broncos they also use a zone-blocking scheme.

Interior offensive line is the Jaguars' biggest need after quarterback and pass-rusher. The group struggled early in the 2013 season with the transition to a zone-blocking scheme and the Jaguars eventually mixed back in some man-blocking schemes.

The strength of a team's running game comes from the center and two guards and those spots weren't very productive in 2013. The Jaguars finished 31st in the NFL in rushing (78.8 yards per game) and running back Maurice Jones-Drew's 3.4 per-carry average was the worst of his career. Meester was in his 14th season and not playing at the same level as he had in the past several seasons. Nwaneri played through torn cartilage in his knee in 2012 and dealt with the lingering effects from the injury in 2013 and Rackley battled a knee injury throughout the 2013 season.
Got questions about the Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

 

Free-agency primer: Jaguars

March, 7, 2014
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: QB Chad Henne, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, CB Will Blackmon.

Where they stand: The Jaguars’ priority is re-signing Henne, ideally before he hits the open market at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Henne has said he wants to return, and GM David Caldwell has said that re-signing Henne, improving the offensive line and adding a few weapons would help keep the offense afloat -- which seems to indicate the Jaguars are leaning toward not taking a quarterback in the first round of the draft if they re-sign Henne. Caldwell said Jones-Drew has earned the right to test the market. The Jaguars would like to bring him back, but Jones-Drew is looking for a longer contract for more money than the Jaguars are willing to offer. Blackmon was a surprise in 2013, and the Jaguars want the veteran back.

What to expect: Interior offensive line is the biggest need in free agency after the release of Uche Nwaneri earlier this week. The center pool isn’t as deep as hoped, but expect the Jaguars to target players such as Brian De La Puente, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Ryan Wendell. Cleveland put the transition tag on Alex Mack, so the Jaguars also could make a run at him but run the risk of the Browns matching the offer. There are more options at guard, and the Jaguars will target several players here, possibly Geoff Schwartz, Zane Beadles and Shelley Smith. The Jaguars also will try to find help at outside linebacker, running back and receiver.

RTC: OL rebuild begins

March, 7, 2014
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The Jaguars made three moves on the offensive line this week, cutting Uche Nwaneri and signing Cameron Bradfield and Sam Young. That's just the start of the rebuild, writes the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran.

When free agency begins next week, the Jaguars will be trying to find a center and two guards to fill the starting spots along the interior of the offensive line. There are plenty of players available, with eight centers and 15 guards under 30 years of age who played at least 100 snaps last season.

The Jaguars may opt to sign two guards and draft a center or give one of several players already on the roster a chance to win the job. Or they may sign a center and one guard and draft at least one interior offensive lineman.

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

The Jaguars draft quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with the No. 3 pick in Todd McShay's latest mock draft. Blake Bortles and Jadeveon Clowney are the top two picks. (Insider content)

Mel Kiper Jr.'s updated Big Board has only one quarterback in the top 10. (Insider content)

NFL.com media insider Ian Rapoport reported that Michael Vick could land with the Jaguars, Bills or Raiders.

NFL.com media analyst Bucky Brooks writes that the Jaguars are one of five teams that would be a good fit for Khalil Mack.
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.
The Jaguars’ release of right guard Uche Nwaneri on Tuesday gives a clear indication of their plan of attack in free agency.

Nwaneri
Center and guard will sit atop general manager David Caldwell’s list when the signing period begins on March 11. Nwaneri’s release and Brad Meester’s retirement mean the Jaguars have to find a new starter at each spot, and Caldwell would like to add at least another guard to make a significant upgrade to the interior of the line.

The Jaguars weren’t exactly hurting for salary-cap space, but releasing Nwaneri saves the team about $3.7 million in cap space for 2014. That gives them approximately $60 million to spend, and a good chunk of it will be devoted to the interior of the offensive line. That is the team's biggest need after quarterback and pass-rusher. The group struggled early last season with the transition to a zone-blocking scheme, and the Jaguars eventually mixed back in some man-blocking schemes.

The strength of a team’s running game comes from the center and two guards, and those spots for Jacksonville weren’t very productive in 2013. The Jaguars finished 31st in the NFL in rushing (78.8 yards per game), and running back Maurice Jones-Drew’s 3.4 yards per carry average was the worst of his career. Meester was in his 14th season and didn't play at the same level he had the past several seasons. Nwaneri played through torn cartilage in his knee in 2012 and dealt with the lingering effects from the injury in 2013. Starting right guard Will Rackley battled a knee injury throughout the 2013 season.

The Jaguars were thought to be going to make a run at Cleveland center Alex Mack, but the Browns placed the transition tag on him earlier this week. The Jaguars could still offer him a contract, but the Browns have five days to match the offer.

Other possibilities at center include New England’s Ryan Wendell and New Orleans’ Brian De La Puente. Possible targets at guard include Kansas City’s Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz and San Diego’s Rich Ohrnberger.

The Jaguars drafted Nwaneri in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, and he played in 104 games with 92 starts. He started and played every snap in 2013.

Free-agency series: Offensive line

February, 28, 2014
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Here is the fifth of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:

Offensive line

Who is on the roster: OT Cameron Bradfield, G/C Mike Brewster, OT Luke Joeckel, C Patrick Lewis, OT DeMarcus Love, G Jacques McClendon, G Stephane Milhim, G Drew Nowak, G Uche Nwaneri, OT Austin Pasztor, G Will Rackley, and OT Sam Young.

Joeckel
Analysis: Injuries hurt the unit early in the season and really impacted it late. The group struggled in the transition to a zone-blocking scheme early in the season as well, which is why the Jaguars finished the first eight games last in the NFL in rushing. Joeckel, whom the Jaguars took with the No. 2 overall pick, spent the first four weeks of the season at right tackle before moving to his natural spot at left tackle following the trade of Eugene Monroe. He played less than a quarter against St. Louis before suffering a fractured ankle, but he was handling Robert Quinn (who finished with 19.0 sacks) pretty well before he got hurt. His injury forced Bradfield and Pasztor into the lineup, and Pasztor played surprisingly well. The team is encouraged by his potential. The biggest issue is the interior of the line. Brad Meester retired, so the Jaguars need a center. Nwaneri was solid at right guard, but left guard was an issue because Rackley played hurt all season and the Jaguars could never generate much push in the middle of the line.

NFL free agents of interest: C Alex Mack, C Ryan Wendell, C Brian De La Puenta, G Jon Asamoah, G Geoff Schwartz, and G Rich Ohrnberger.

Need meter: 9. After quarterback and leo, the interior of the offensive line is the Jaguars’ biggest need. GM David Caldwell has said the team would like to address that in free agency, and it would be a surprise if the Jaguars didn’t sign at least two starters, including a center, within the first few weeks of free agency. It’s unlikely the Jaguars would target the big names that are available, mainly because of cost, but if those players linger on the market and the price drops, the Jaguars would get involved. Even though Joeckel is talented and seemed to thrive in the very limited time he spent at left tackle, there are still questions about him, so the Jaguars might opt to add some experienced depth at tackle. Competition for roster spots on the line will be among the more interesting training camp battles.
With the NFL combine starting Wednesday, here's a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars' positions of need on offense and which prospects the team might be looking to take a closer look at in Indianapolis. Positions of need are listed in order of importance. A look at the defense comes Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill on the roster and the next part in the process comes this week when general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley evaluate, watch and interview prospects at the NFL combine.

Here's a breakdown of what the Jaguars need, in order, on offense and some potential targets:

Quarterback: There's no question this is the Jaguars' top need, although pass-rusher is only slightly behind. Caldwell wants to re-sign Chad Henne before free agency begins next month, but Henne is a bridge player or someone who can mentor a young quarterback and begin the season as the starter if the rookie isn't ready. The Jaguars haven't completely given up on Blaine Gabbert, either, but he's entering the final year of his contract and it would be surprising if he were re-signed after 2014.

Potential targets: Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Aaron Murray.

Interior offensive line: The Jaguars have to find a center to replace the retired Brad Meester and a left guard to upgrade from Will Rackley. The Jaguars will address this area in free agency as well but the team also wants to add some young talent. The Jaguars appear set at both tackles (Luke Joeckel and Austin Pasztor) and right guard Uche Nwaneri has two more years remaining on his contract. He's scheduled to make $4.775 million in each year, though, and could be a cap casualty after 2014. Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon can play guard and center but neither appears, now anyway, to be the long-term answer. It wouldn't be surprising if the team took an interior offensive lineman in the third round, especially if the Jaguars took a quarterback earlier.

Potential targets: G Gabe Jackson, G David Yankey, G Brandon Thomas, C Marcus Martin, C Weston Richburg, C Russell Bodine.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Stephen Morton/AP PhotoThe Jaguars need to find a feature back in the event they do not re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew.
Running back: The Jaguars are more than likely going to lose Maurice Jones-Drew in free agency, which leaves them with Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Delone Carter, and Justin Forsett on the roster. Forsett is likely going to be cut, but even if he's retained none of those players is a feature back. The Jaguars don't need to invest a high pick at this spot because good backs can be found in the later middle rounds.

Potential targets: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Jerick McKinnon, Tre Mason, Lache Seastrunk, Dri Archer, Andre Williams.

Receiver: The Jaguars aren't planning on getting anything from Justin Blackmon in 2014 because they don't yet know his status, which is the correct way to approach his situation. Cecil Shorts is entering a contract year but has yet to stay healthy for a full season. Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Lamar Thomas, and Stephen Burton are complementary players. The Jaguars need to find a bigger, physical receiver. If they do that in free agency, this area drops to the bottom of the offensive needs list.

Potential targets: Josh Huff, Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams.

Tight end: Marcedes Lewis came on strong at the end of the season and he should be a 50-catch player in Jedd Fisch's offense if he stays healthy. After Lewis, though, there isn't much. Clay Harbor is a flex tight end but he's a free agent and the Jaguars will have to decide if they want to re-sign him. Danny Noble is raw and needs more work. The Jaguars want a bigger tight end who can line up next to Lewis in two-tight-end formations.

Potential targets: Marcel Jensen, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Crockett Gilmore, Jake Murphy.

RTC: Johnson will be available

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
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One of the NFL's top young defensive ends is going to be available in free agency if the Jaguars want to pursue him.

NFL media insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Cincinnati's Michael Johnson is going to hit the open market and the Bengals believe their chances of re-signing the 27-year-old are slim.

The Jaguars need to improve their pass rush significantly. They finished with 31 sacks in 2013, which was tied with Chicago for the worst mark in the NFL. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound Johnson doesn't fit the Jaguars' profile for their Leo position (hybrid end/outside linebacker) but could work at the opposite end spot.

Johnson has 26.5 sacks in his five seasons.

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

Offensive lineman Uche Nwaneri said he would welcome a gay teammate.

Here's a look at the Jaguars' strength of schedule in 2014.

The Jaguars announced the hiring of two new assistant coaches. Robert Saleh was hired to coach the linebackers while Scottie Hazelton was hired to be an assistant linebackers coach. Jaguars.com's John Oehser writes that Saleh is cut from the same mold as head coach Gus Bradley. The Jaguars also announced the hiring of athletic trainer Scott Trulock.

NFL.com's offseason forecast for the Jaguars doesn't include any surprises: Help is needed at quarterback, pass-rusher.

Johnny Manziel will not throw at Texas A&M's pro day on March 5 but will instead hold a private workout on March 27.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Uche Nwaneri believes Michael Sam’s sexual orientation will not result in problems when he finally enters an NFL locker room in May.

Nwaneri said NFL players' only concern about Sam, the former Missouri defensive end who announced on Sunday he is gay, will be whether he can help them get better and win games.

“I would welcome a gay teammate same as any other,” Nwaneri told ESPN. “Something about team sports really transcends color and orientation. In between the lines it’s all football. Purest form of it. I don’t know how it will play out in specific locker rooms around the league, but I know that as adults and professionals the only thing that should matter is the game and the team.

“Our teammates and coaches are like family and I don’t see sexual orientation as something that should threaten that environment.”

Sam was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 after he posted 11.5 sacks. The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Sam fits what the Jaguars call their Leo position, a hybrid end/linebacker whose primary purpose is to rush the passer. He projects as a third- to fifth-round pick.
Each day this week I'll provide an answer to a key question facing the Jaguars in the offseason.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars are projected to be roughly $50 million under the salary cap in 2014, so GM David Caldwell doesn't have to worry about re-negotiating any deals or cutting high-priced players to fit under the cap.

Posluszny
Lewis
But that doesn't mean the Jaguars don't have any out-of-whack salaries. They certainly do, and it begins with linebacker Paul Posluszny.

Posluszny is scheduled to count $9.5 million against the cap in 2014. Though he has been the Jaguars' best defensive player since he signed a six-year deal with the team in 2011 and is coming off his first Pro Bowl, that's a pretty significant cap number for a middle linebacker. In fact, he'll be the Jaguars' highest-paid player in 2014.

That's not much of an issue now because the Jaguars don't have a high-paid quarterback, receiver or defensive back to worry about within the next few years. But Posluszny will count $9.5 million against the cap in 2015 and $7.5 million against the cap in 2016 and those are numbers that are too high and it's likely the team will try to re-work the deal at some point after 2014.

Tight end Marcedes Lewis will be the Jaguars' second-highest paid player in 2014 with a cap number of $8.35 million. It appeared during the 2013 season that Lewis would be a cap casualty because he missed nearly six full games with a calf injury and really didn't make much of an impact in the passing game when he did return. But he was certainly a weapon over the final five games, catching 16 passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns.

Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch got Lewis more involved over the final five weeks and with a full season in the lineup Lewis could reach 50 catches in 2014.

Even so, it'd be a surprise if Lewis were back in 2015 because he is scheduled to count $8.3 million against the cap and that's a lot of money to invest in a tight end not named Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski.

Other players with high cap numbers in 2014 are defensive end Jason Babin ($6.175 million), right guard Uche Nwaneri ($5.894 million) and receiver Justin Blackmon ($5.048 million). Babin led the Jaguars with 7.5 sacks in 2013 but he's making elite defensive end money and he's not an elite defensive end. He has said he'd be willing to re-negotiate his contract because he likes it in Jacksonville, but he also can declare himself a free agent because of a clause in the new CBA.

It'd be a surprise if Babin is on the roster in 2014 under his current contract.

Blackmon is under an indefinite suspension and won't count against the cap unless he is reinstated. He can apply to commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstatement before the 2014 season begins.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars are committed to upgrading the interior of the offensive line, whether that's through free agency or the draft -- or possibly even both.

The biggest need is center since Brad Meester has retired after 14 seasons. The Jaguars could opt to enter the bidding war for free agent Alex Mack, sign a cheaper option (like Ryan Wendell, for example), or try out current players Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon. Uche Nwaneri should return at right guard, but the team needs to improve at left guard.

If the Jaguars do address those spots in the draft, three potential targets are players that Scouts Inc.'s Kevin Weidl said caught his eye during film study over the past several weeks: USC center Marcus Martin, North Carolina center/guard Russell Bodine, and LSU guard Trai Turner. Weidel breaks each player down in the latest Who We're Watching post on ESPN's NFL Draft blog.

One thing that stood out from reading Weidl's breakdowns: All three players have a bit of a nasty attitude on the field, which is an often overlooked trait.

You can read Weidl's complete blog hereInsider.

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