More changes are in store for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In terms of sheer numbers, next week’s start to the signing period for free agents won’t be as radical of a roster makeover as what happened throughout last season. But with both Maurice Jones-Drew and Chad Henne being players whose futures have yet to be finalized, what lies ahead for the offense remains something of a mystery.
Jones-Drew owns the franchise records for career touchdowns and rushing touchdowns, although the past two seasons have seen his production drop off significantly from when he reached the Pro Bowl three times.
Henne was certainly more effective at quarterback than former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, but that in turn could make the six-year veteran more attractive to other teams in a slim market for players at that position.
There aren’t as many crucial decisions to be made on defense.
The Jaguars didn’t even wait until the end of a season where they finished with a 4-12 record to sign tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, one of their top additions a year ago, to a contract extension.
Here is a look at the free agents on their roster:
Coming back from a season in which he played only six games because of a left foot injury, Jones-Drew started in 15 of 16 games and ran for 803 yards. But his average yards per carry (3.4) was the lowest of his eight-year career.
Reason to keep: Running backs aren’t washed up at age 29, which is what he’ll turn later this month. Besides, there don’t appear to be any free agents elsewhere or draft prospects who would represent a major upgrade over him.
Reason to let walk: Better to have someone else overpay for a back who has averaged around 225 carries a season than be stuck with a burdensome contract.
Prediction: Unless he’s willing to accept either a reduced role or a reduced salary, the Jaguars seem prepared to move on without him. Nothing personal, just business.
QB CHAD HENNE
Henne became the full-time starter in Week 6 and ended up throwing for 3,241 yards and 13 touchdowns, with 10 of those scores coming in the final eight games. General manager Dave Caldwell said recently that he wants to sign him to an extension before March 11.
Reason to keep: If the Jaguars aren’t intending to use the No. 3 pick in the draft on a quarterback, they’ll truly be in a bind should Henne go elsewhere. And even if they do pick a signal-caller then, he’d be a capable backup.
Reason to let walk: Quarterbacks without great mobility or arm strength are a vanishing breed in the NFL.