It's finally here. The 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars will report to training camp on Sunday, bringing to an end what was quite possibly the most painful offseason in Jaguars history. We've seen Fred Taylor leave the team and go to the New England Patriots, something that will look dreadful when the Jaguars face the Patriots on December 27th. We saw the release of nearly the entire crop of 2008 free agents and most of the Jaguars wide receivers leave. Jerry Porter, Matt Jones, and Reggie Williams all still unemployed, though I'd argue that Matt Jones still has a chance to do well, somewhere.
We saw James Harris leave the team and the rise of Gene Smith, he which we must trust to make all the right decisions, as he has final say in nearly everything. It's unclear as to whether Jack Del Rio will still get to pick his sideline attire, or if that too comes from an edict from above. Of course, I say this will all due respect, as I've been OK with just about every move that Smith has made since taking the conn.
The good news is that the majority of our draft picks are signed (more on that to come), there were no significant injuries during the OTA season, and the offseason passed with no arrests, off the field incidents, or distractions. While I hate talking about it, when the biggest offseason storyline is a struggle to sell tickets, we're doing all right.
Three Burning Questions:
1. Will Eugene Monroe, our first round pick, be in camp on time with a reasonable contract? Jason Smith signed a $62 million contract with $33 million in guaranteed money. Basically equivalent to the 5 year, 57 million dollar contract with 30 million guaranteed. That sets the bar for offensive linemen. The Raiders signed Wide Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, selected 7th overall, to a $23.5 million guaranteed and $38.25 million in base salary with a maximum value of $54 million. This sets the cap for Monroe in the slotting order. Derrick Harvey, selected 8th overall last season, signed for t $17.175 million in guaranteed money, $23.8 million before incentives and $33.4 million in total potential money.
So the Jaguars will look to sign Monroe for closer to 19-20 million in guaranteed money, Monroe and his agent will push for 21-22 million, and they'll find a common ground in the middle. Will that be accomplished by Sunday? Highly doubtful. I don't expect a long holdout, but it's likely that he'll miss the first few days. This is why we have Tra Thomas.
2. Will the Wide Receivers continue to develop? Who is Chad Owens and who is the next Jimmy Smith or Keenan McCardell? Who will get alligator arms when Reggie Nelson is closing and who goes over the middle and takes the hit? We can speculate all day long about the receivers and what they could do, but once the pads are in play and the lights are on, all bets are off. I've got faith that this group is going to turn into something special, especially with Mike Walker being healthy and ready for his 3rd season, but we'll have to see.
3. Do we escape the injuries. After last season, every snap, every play, every throw and every awkward fall and twist will terrify me. While Camp Del Rio will be more intense than we're used to, I'd like to see this team go into week one with a healthy roster that can surprise some folks, not one that is hobbled and wounded.
What's on your mind on the Friday before camp?