JACKSONVILLE FL - AUGUST 21: Ronnie Brown #23 of the Miami Dolphins attempts to run past Sean Considine #37 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the preseason game at EverBank Field on August 21 2010 in Jacksonville Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
The safety position on the Jacksonville Jaguars is quite honestly the most concerning position on their roster. It has been an issue ever since the Jaguars let Gerald Sensabaugh walk to the Dallas Cowboys in free agency. While Sensabaugh was wanting some outlandish money, he wound up signing a 1-year deal for rather cheap, and I feel the Jaguars missed out on a position that will continue to haunt them.
I'm going to say that one of the Jaguars opening day starters at the safety position could very well not be on their roster right now. Whether it be via trade or the waiver wire, they are going to need to make a move at the position. The group of safeties they have right now aren't terrible, but they're bad enough to be a potential backbreaking issue on a rebuilding defense.
I believe the pass rush will sort itself out as the season goes along, but I cannot say the same for the safety position. Gerald Alexander is probably their best safety, but he's more a guy you want as the worst starter in your backfield. Alexander is a smart solid safety who's not great at anything but adequate at everything. After that it's a crapshoot.
Anthony Smith is a classic strong safety, but he lacks in coverage. Sean Considine is a smart player, but it's like he's running in cement shoes at times. He's fallen off quite a bit since his stellar scrimmage where it looked like he'd challenge for a starting role. Right now I'm having trouble seeing him challenge for a roster position. Tyrone Brackenridge has played solid at safety late in the games, but he hasn't really stood out either. He's a converted corner learning a new position, not really starting material right now. The team had high hopes for Courtney Greene, but he's still just "another guy" out there.
Reggie Nelson, the former first round pick, might just play himself off the roster. Some of the coaching staff questions his toughness and his play has been lackluster so far. He's improved from his disastrous 2009 season, but he's still not shining. He didn't even play on Saturday until the second half of the game and he wound up being the 5thsafety to play that night. Previously I thought Nelson would make the team based on pure athleticism and the fact that he's cheap with roughly a $725,000 salary number. The problem is, it's hard to keep a first round pick for essentially special teams. Why keep Reggie Nelson over combo players like Tyrone Brackenridge who have played Nelson's position just as well as him, but also doubles as an excellent special teams player and effective nickel corner? If Nelson wants to stay on the team, he's got to make some plays. The team played him the entire second half in the hopes that he would show something.
So who would the Jaguars go and get?
That's the question that I don't have an answer to.
There are murmurs that Darren Sharper hasn't been so hot with the Saints and he's on the bubble, but I don't know how much he'd help. A talented younger player like Jarrad Page is begging to be traded from the Chiefs, but no one knows what the compensation would be. Sabby Piscatelli just found the bench in Tampa Bay in favor of Sean Jones, but like Sharper, how much of an upgrade is he? There are murmurs the Raiders might be parting ways with former first rounder Michael Huff, who's fallen by the wayside.
Bleeding Green Nation did a story a few weeks ago looking at potential cuts that could contribute on other teams. Here's a few notable defensive backs:
New Orleans Saints: At safety, there are seven players on the roster (Darren Sharper, Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins, Usama Young, Pierson Prioleau, Chip Vaughn, Chris Reis) that are all NFL players, and you figure the Saints will keep 5 at most. Reis, Prioleau and Young are all role players and backups, but all three of them are special teams standouts. They each played a role in the Saints' Super Bowl run last year and if one of them became available they could develop into significant contributors, and would make an immediate impact on special teams. Chip Vaughn was a high draft pick last year with lots of promise, but he could also get caught in a numbers game, and would be a terrific prospect for someone to pick up if the Saints decided to part ways with him.
Washington Redskins: Laron Landry, Chris Horton, and Reed Doughty are all players that can start (and have started) in the NFL. Landry isn't going anywhere, and the Redskins value Doughty's ability as a special teamer. If they don't keep all 3, the odd man out could be Chris Horton. Horton was a steal in the 7th round and he started as a rookie in 2008. In 2009, his season was cut short by a toe injury that landed him on IR. The Redskins could potentially recoup a late round pick in return for Horton in a trade.
I don't know who it's going to be, but I have a sneaky suspicion something happens at this position before the Denver Broncos game.