The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran surmises that the Jaguars will land someone pretty quickly and then stand back, let the market stabilize and prices go down, and then make several more moves. Offensive line and nearly every spot on defense will be targeted, O'Halloran theorizes.
Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:
Here are the top free agents in the AFC South as compiled by the NFL Nation team reporters.
Newly signed defensive end Red Bryant says one of the reasons he chose to sign with the Jaguars is he believes the Jaguars are on a similar path as Seattle under Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley.
T-U columnist Gene Frenette writes that Caldwell's legacy will be defined by what happens over the next few months in free agency and the draft.
T-U sports editor Chet Fussman writes that the Jaguars should not try to re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew.
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora predicts where all the free-agent quarterbacks end up.
NFL.com's Albert Breer writes that free agency inspires caution among the league's winning teams.
He also isn't going to forget the 2008 and 2009 seasons, either.
What he experienced then -- going 4-12 in '08 and 5-11 in '09 -- was just as much a part of Seattle's championship run as anything they did last season, he said.
One of the main reasons Bryant signed with Jacksonville is he believes the Jaguars are on a similar path under general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, who was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator from 2009-12. He sees the Jaguars at the same point the Seahawks were in his first two seasons and believes he can help as the franchise attempts to maneuver its way through the same building process.
"They've got a vision from the owner to the general manager to the head coach to everybody in the program," Bryant said. "They know what their vision it. They're going to be committed to it and they're not going to [deviate from it]. When you have that type of commitment to winning, commitment to excellence, only good things can happen.
"...I know what it takes. I know what type of commitment you have to have from the front office on down and that's the same commitment that I see the Jacksonville Jags have."
That's a pretty big leap of faith considering Caldwell and Bradley are only in their second year in Jacksonville and inherited a roster that was one of the worst in the NFL. The Jaguars lost their first eight games of 2013 by double digits and finished the season ranked 22nd or worse in the six major statistical categories (yards per game, rushing yards per game, and passing yards per game). They were 29th against the rush and 31st in total offense and rushing.
But there is optimism because early returns are solid on the duo's first draft class and they were able to add several free agents who turned into key players, such as defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, cornerback Alan Ball, and linebacker Geno Hayes. Marks signed a four-year extension in December and is one of the players around which the defense will be built.
Bryant is another one of those players. He's a five-technique defensive end, meaning he lines up over the offensive tackle and is responsible for the gaps on either side. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound Bryant began his career as a tackle before moving to end in 2010 and he said he's willing to play inside and outside with the Jaguars.
"I'm pretty sure Gus will have a plan and the defensive coordinator will have a plan on how to use me," Bryant said. "I definitely feel like I can play inside if given the opportunity and I hope moving forward that's in the plan to utilize me inside as well."
Bryant, whom Seattle cut on Feb. 28, had planned on visiting Green Bay and Kansas City and said the Washington Redskins also expressed interest, but when he got to Jacksonville and spent time with Bradley, Caldwell and defensive line coach Todd Wash he felt the Jaguars were the perfect situation.
"I just think it's a great fit for me all the way around," he said. "I know where the vision starts from the top down and I believe Jacksonville is definitely moving in the right direction and I'm excited about being able to help their franchise turn it around."
The Jaguars were already expected to be active in free agency in trying to find another pass rusher but Babin’s decision adds a little more urgency. The team may address the area in the draft -- with Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack in the first round, for example -- but it still would be beneficial to have a veteran presence at that spot the locker room.
There’s a solid chance Babin, who turns 34 in May, will re-sign with the Jaguars, albeit at a much more reasonable salary than the $6 million he was scheduled to make in each of the next two seasons. He’s not a double-digit sack guy any longer, but he did lead the team with 7.5 sacks last season and coach Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich both said he has played better than his stats indicate.
Right now the Jaguars’ best pass rusher is Branch, the team’s under-achieving second-round draft pick in 2012. Gus Bradley, defensive line coach Todd Wash and Babich got Branch to be more consistent last season and he ended up finishing second with six sacks and nine quarterback pressures. Rivers played in two games with St. Louis before being cut and did not appear in a game for the Jaguars.
The market for pass rushers wasn’t that deep anyway and most of the remaining available players that fit as a leo -- a hybrid end/linebacker whose main responsibility is rushing the passer -- in the Jaguars’ scheme are second- and third-tier free agents.
Babin was able to void his contract because of a rule in the new collective bargaining agreement that allows a vested veteran claimed after the trading deadline -- which the Jaguars did in 2012 -- to declare themselves a free agent after the season following the season in which he was claimed.
Babin, 33, was scheduled to make $6.175 million in each of the final two years of his contract.
A source told ESPN's John Clayton that Babin remains in touch with the Jaguars and is interested in re-signing with them.
The Jaguars are now $60.7 million under the salary cap for the 2014 season.
1. Vontae Davis, Colts CB: Indianapolis needs a top cornerback to help a defense that finished 20th in the league last season. Davis has shown he has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. He just needs to work on his consistency.
2. Alterraun Verner, Titans CB: A smart, aware corner with a knack for getting to the ball, he just lacks top speed and size.
3. Antoine Bethea, Colts S: A reliable player, having started every game he played during his eight years with the Colts. Finished with at least 100 tackles in five of those seasons.
4. Earl Mitchell, Texans NT: Solid player at the point of attack and has shown the ability to get consistent penetration. He had 48 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season.
5. Bernard Pollard, Titans S: Played well as an in-the-box safety and provided the sort of standard-setting leadership the Titans lacked previously. Update: Signed one-year, $2 million deal to remain with Titans.
6. Darryl Sharpton, Texans LB: Led the Texans with 87 tackles but is not as good in coverage as he is against the run.
8. Ben Tate, Texans RB: He led the Texans with 771 yards rushing. He has been somewhat injury-prone but has produced when needed as Arian Foster's backup.
9. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars RB: Jones-Drew started 15 games and led the Jaguars with 803 yards and five touchdowns rushing. He also caught 43 passes (third on the team) for 314 yards. He got off to a slow start then battled through ankle, hamstring and knee issues and averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry.
11. Garrett Graham, Texans TE: He’s not Owen Daniels, but he can line up tight or as a flex tight end. He came into his own as a receiver last season with 49 catches for 545 yards and five TDs.
12. Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts RB: A neck injury limited Bradshaw to only three games last season. It took just those three games for him to show he was the Colts' most effective running back.
13. Ropati Pitoitua, Titans DE: A giant, run-stuffing end who would be a solid, flexible piece in the hybrid front. Update: Signed 3-year, deal for $9.6 million to remain with Titans.
14. Adam Vinatieri, Colts K: The 41-year-old Vinatieri was 35-of-40 on field goals and a perfect 34-of-34 on extra points in 2013.
15. Samson Satele, Colts C: Was released by the team on March 6 after a disappointing 2013 season. He has started 98 of 102 games during his seven-year career.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal broke down that signing as well as several others that happened before the start of free agency. His take on the Jaguars' acquisition of Bryant:
"It's hard not to like this move. Bryant is a run-stopping specialist, but he should still have plenty left in the tank at age 30. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley knows what Bryant does well, and the deal was fair: Four years, $17 million."
Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:
Here's my take on the Bryant signing, which is the first step in beefing up one of the league's worst run defenses.
The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the Jaguars need help at receiver.
The T-U's Hays Carlyon spent several days in Seattle before the Jaguars played the Seahawks in September and spoke with Bryant, who had some nice things to say about Bradley.
Carlyon also writes that former Jaguars center Brad Meester has dropped significant weight since he retired in December and is getting ready to go to school to become a motorcycle mechanic.
Here's the weekly mailbag.
The spot Bryant will play is opposite the leo, which is a hybrid end/linebacker whose main responsibility is rushing the passer. The opposite end’s priority is to act as a run-stuffer while also providing some pass rush. Tyson Alualu held that spot last season and did a solid job, making 44 tackles and recording 1.5 sacks and eight quarterback pressures.
Then-Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley moved Bryant from tackle to end in 2010, and Bryant thrived in that role from 2011 to 2013, making 87 tackles and serving as an anchor of the defensive line, and Bradley is hoping he can do the same thing in Jacksonville.
Bryant is a better player than 6-3, 295-pound Alualu, who has never lived up to his status as the No. 10 pick in 2010 and likely will take over as the starter. Alualu has one more season remaining on his rookie contract with a cap hit of $4.164 million, but it seems unlikely the team would release him.
The Jaguars’ rush defense was horrible in the first half of the season (161.8 yards per game). It did get better in the second half of the season, limiting opponents to less than 100 yards rushing in Weeks 10-14 before injuries along the defensive line and at linebacker limited the defense. The Jaguars gave up 461 yards on the ground in the final three weeks.
Addressing the offensive and defensive lines is the team’s top priority in free agency. The signing of Bryant has given the Jaguars a head start.
Bryant, who turns 30 next month, missed only one game in the past three seasons and recorded 87 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two interceptions over that span. He spent six years in Seattle and made 121 tackles.
He began his career as a defensive tackle but moved to end in 2010. His spot's primary responsibility is stopping the run.
Bradley spent four seasons (2009-12) as Seattle's defensive coordinator. The Super Bowl champion Seahawks drafted Bryant in the fourth round in 2008.
Though free agency doesn't begin until Tuesday, Bryant is able to sign a contract with the Jaguars because he was released by Seattle on Feb. 28. He was scheduled to make $4.5 million in 2014 and was due a $3 million bonus if he was on the Seahawks' roster on March 14.
Bradley said on a Friday teleconference that he and general manager David Caldwell would prefer that a rookie quarterback -- whether he was taken in the third round or with the No. 3 pick in the first round -- sit behind Henne and develop instead of playing right away.
"Now, if we did do that and he did really well, we're going to be open to [him playing immediately]. We're obviously going to play the best guy. … I think we want to create an environment like that for him to compete in and I think that [sitting] would give him the best opportunity to get better."
That's one of the reasons why the Jaguars placed such a high priority on signing Henne before free agency beings next week. Not only does it give the Jaguars a player who has experience in the system and familiarity with the coaching staff and personnel, it allows them to not have to play a quarterback that may not be ready to be on the field -- which is what happened with Blaine Gabbert in 2011.
And we've seen how that worked out.
Bradley wouldn't rule out the Jaguars taking a quarterback with the No 3 pick. He also said that while Henne heads into organized team activities as the starter, Gabbert has the chance to compete and win the job. So, too, would whatever quarterback the team drafts.
If either out-performs Henne, they'll start, but the expectation is that Henne -- who started 13 games last season and threw for 3,421 yards and 13 touchdowns with 14 interceptions -- holds onto the job.
"If they bring in a quarterback at No. 3, that's just only another guy in there that's going to try to compete and make me better and hopefully I can make him better," Henne said. "What it really all comes down to is helping the team win, and I've always been a team player. I'm going to bust my butt to be the starter and hopefully be the starter there for a long time.
"Whatever they do, that's their decision. My job is to help lead this team and be the starter Day 1."
Position: Tight end
Summary: He caught five passes for 40 yards before going on IR for eight weeks with a knee injury. He was inactive for the final three games.
Why keep him: He’s a young player who could develop into a viable pass-catcher as a No. 3 tight end.
Why let him go: The Jaguars just re-signed Clay Harbor and Reisner essentially fills the same role.
Best guess: He’s not back with the team.
Who’s on the roster: Johnathan Cyprien, Josh Evans, Winston Guy and Chris Prosinski.
Analysis: It’s early, but the Jaguars appear to have hit a home run with Cyprien, whom they took in the second round in last year’s draft. They took him because they wanted a physical safety who would be a factor close to the line of scrimmage, but he turned out to be better in pass coverage than they anticipated. Evans got on the field earlier than anticipated because of an injury to Dwight Lowery and really wasn’t ready to play that much that soon. He fought through, and after rotating in the second half of the season with Guy, seemed to settle down in the final few games. Guy is a big hitter who needs to be more consistent in coverage. Prosinski is a special-teams player who will struggle to make the team in 2014.
NFL free agents of interest: Antoine Bethea, Chris Clemons and Jairus Byrd.
Need meter: 3. The Jaguars wouldn’t mind adding some depth here but it’s not a position of immediate need in 2014. The coaching staff is excited about Cyprien’s potential and between Guy and Evans the other safety spot should not be a liability. The Jaguars could get interested in some of the safeties if they remain on the market and their price comes down, but I don’t see the team making this position a priority in free agency.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Sometimes the popular decision isn't the correct decision, and that's the case with the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Chad Henne.
The team needs a franchise quarterback and fans are clamoring for the team to draft Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles and hand over the keys to the offense. The last thing fans want is the status quo at quarterback.
However, that's likely what they're going to get now that Henne and the team have agreed to a two-year extension. General manager David Caldwell has been hinting at it over the past two months. Even if the Jaguars do draft a quarterback, Caldwell said it's unlikely he'll be ready to play right away. Caldwell also said that with another year in the offense, some additional playmakers, and better offensive-line play, Henne could keep the team afloat.
That's a pretty good indication Henne will take the first snap in the 2014 season opener and for a significant length of time after, as well. Possibly even the entire season.
If Caldwell is correct and whichever quarterback the team drafts is not ready to play for the first part of the season or longer -- whether it's one of the big three in the first round or someone else in the second or third round -- then sticking with Henne is the correct decision. He gives the team the best chance to win games in that scenario.
Henne did a solid job under less-than-ideal circumstances last season: He started 13 games and threw for 3,241 yards and 13 touchdowns with 14 interceptions, becoming the first Jaguars quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season since David Garrard in 2009. The 28-year-old Henne led the Jaguars to a 4-4 record in the second half of the season after an 0-8 start, and he had nine TD passes and five interceptions in the final five games.
He did it with a depleted cast, too. He lost his best receiver (Justin Blackmon) to an indefinite suspension, didn't get much from tight end Marcedes Lewis because of a calf injury, and then lost his second-best receiver (Cecil Shorts) for the final three weeks because of a sports hernia.
Henne's signing doesn't guarantee the Jaguars won't take a quarterback in the first round, but the team could choose to address a similarly pressing need by taking a pass-rusher, whether it's Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack.
If the Jaguars do take a quarterback in the second or third round -- which seems a near certainty if they draft a pass-rusher in the first round -- Henne can serve as a mentor to the young quarterback, a role that wouldn't be suited for Blaine Gabbert.
Henne isn't the long-term answer, but he is the team's top option heading into the 2014 season -- popular or not.