Even with all the worries of a lockout I figured it would be good to get some background on the free agents to be and how they relate to the Jaguars. With talks be restarting between the NFLPA and the owners starting this weekend there might be hope that a resolution may come to pass in the next few weeks which would allow free agency to start like normal. There is a decent amount of quality safeties available this off-season and the Jaguars might be targeting many of these free agents. The percentage displayed for each player is for each individual case. What is not factored in is if the Jaguars sign one of these free agents because most likely they would not go after another. Lets look at the best available:
2010 Stats: 96 tackles, 80 solo, 2 INT, 0.5 sacks (Voted All -Pro)
Overview: Weddle is coming off a season where he was voted a Second Team All Pro and widely considered one of the best safeties in the NFL. Weddle who was drafted in 2007 has slowly improved each of his seasons in the NFL and looks like he is just entering the prime of his career. Weddle is one of, if not the best run support safety in the NFL which can be seen through his average of 102 tackles per season in his career. Weddle also has improved his coverage skills this past season. Overall Weddle is young with All Pro talent and whoever signs him will be forking over a long and expensive contract.
Chance the Jaguars Sign: 20% - Weddle is great but the Chargers might retain him and even if they do not he is way to pricey for the Jaguars who will likely look for a cheaper option.
2010 Stats: 111 tackles, 86 solo, 1 sack, 1 FF
Overview: Landry is coming off another solid season as a starting safety for one of the best defenses in the NFL. Landry, like many of the top safeties available this free agency, is excellent in run support and is improving in his coverage. At 28, Landry is still young and has plenty of time to grow and continue to improve. Landry would instantly improve any secondary and could be a Top 10 safety for years. The Ravens like the Chargers have many free agents in 2011 but resigning Landry will be a top goal. Landry though has expressed interest (to Seattle) in leaving last off season while he was a restricted free agent.
Chances the Jaguars Sign: 40% - Like Weddle, Landry is looking for a big contract that will most likely be out of the Jaguars price range. Landry though would be slightly cheaper and his willingness to leave the Ravens would improve the Jaguars chances.
2010 Stats: 88 tackles, 77 solo, 1 FF, 3 INT (All Pro)
Overview: Adding to the list of great free agent safeties is Mikell, the former un-drafted player, who has been flat out dominant over the past few years for the Eagles. He has been voted a Second Team All Pro twice and to the Pro Bowl. He has been great in run support as well as coverage. He has a lot of wear and tear already having been in the league 8 years but has really been sensational in his last 3 years. He is a fierce competitor who has shown his emotion on multiple occasions after tough losses. After another early exit in the playoffs, Mikell might be looking to leave the Eagles, the only team he has ever played for.
Chances the Jaguars Sign: 10% - Mikell has the character and desire that the Jaguars covet but like the Weddle and Landry he will come at a high price. Even if he leaves Philly, which they wont let him do without a fight, his desire to play for a contender might also cause Mikell to look for a more Superbowl contending team.
2010 Stats: 72 tackles, 59 solo, 1 INT
Overview: Unlike the previous safeties, Manning did not have a sensational 2010 season. He had a solid season with 72 tackles and 1 INT but compared to previous seasons he had a down year. Manning who plays mostly strong safety is an excellent return man as well which bolsters his value. As a safety Manning had an average year and with the addition of Major Wright to the Bears defense was splitting time at the position at the end of the season. At 29 years old Manning is a quality starter and can hold his own though he can get beat on occasion. The Bears attempted to resign Manning mid-season but he declined the offer and has announced that he will test free agency.
Chance the Jaguars Sign: 60% - Manning might be a great fit for the Jaguars. His price tag though on the higher end will probably still be reasonable due to his average season. He already has shown his desire to leave Chicago and in Jacksonville he would not have to split time as he does now as he would immediately be the best safety on the team. His combination of skills and price tag might fall right in Gene Smith's range.(
2010 Stats: 95 tackles, 78 solo, 4 sacks, 3 INT (All - Pro)
Overview: Huff is probably my favorite safety that is going to be a free agent. Huff who had a monster season did most of his work later in the season. Huff has had the physical tools to be a great safety but only recent, last year and this year, has he developed into a big playmaker. His statistics speak for themselves and at the age of 28 he will probably be playing great for seasons to come if he can keep on improving. His one weakness is that he has never been known as a strong tackler though in 2010 he recorded 95 tackles. It will be interesting to see what Oakland does with Huff as he is easily on the best defensive players. If Huff hits free agency then I expect he will probably be looking for a deal along the lines of Landry.
Chance the Jaguars sign: 40% - Huff is an intriguing option for the Jaguars. Personally I think he would be great because he seems to finally be getting to a consistent All-Pro level and would help fix the Jaguars secondary problems. I think it is going to come down to whether Gene Smith is willing to pay Huff the money he wants after only a season and a half of good play. If he hits free agency then I would keep my eye on him.
2010 Stats: 71 tackles, 59 solo, 2 sacks, 5 INT
Overview: Oh hey remember me? Sensabaugh who became a free agent in 2009 and who new GM Gene Smith did not attempt to resign due to his numerous run ins with the law. Sensabaugh was given a second chance with the Cowboys and over the course of two seasons with them has proven himself as a quality starting safety in the league. On a terrible Dallas team he stood out on defense this season. Dallas will most likely attempt to keep retain him so he may not hit free agency but most will agree that even if he does hit free agency he will most likely not return to Jacksonville.
Chance the Jaguars Sign: 0% - The Jaguars let him walk for a reason. His arrests represented a type of player that Gene Smith did not want on the team and I doubt that in 2 years Smith has changed his mind. I also doubt that Sensabaugh will even want to come back as he will most likely get paid well somewhere else.
2010 Stats: 140 tackles, 96 solo, 1 sack, 1 INT
Overview: Whitner had the best year of his career on a team whose season was done after Week 7. Whitner is great in run support and is an expert tackler which can be seen in his 140 tackles. His coverage skills are ok at best but he is still young at 26 and many players coverage skills improve with age. Whitner and Buffalo seem to be at odds on contract talks so most likely Whitner will want to leave to play for a better team and receive a nice paycheck. Though he was arrested in 2009 for resisting arrest he also has been known for his charity work in the Buffalo community and has often been a model citizen.
Chances the Jaguars Sign: 50% - Whitner is a quality option at safety and would be a solid starter for years to come. I think the chance that the Jaguars sign him will depend if Gene Smith ignores the resisting arrest charge which is his only mistake. He would also probably come at a reasonable price.
2010 Stats: 80 tackles, 62 solo, 1 sack, 1 INT
Overview: Goldson compared to his 2009 season had a down year. In 2009, only his second year in the league, he was a beast with 4 INTs, 2 sacks and 95 tackles but his play dropped off a little in 2010. This could be due to one of the many problems going on in San Fransisco or injuries he seemed to always be playing with. Either way Goldson might be a steal. He has shown he can struggle at times but he has also shown stretches where he can be a great safety. Here is a great article over a Niners Nation on him: http://www.ninersnation.com/2011/2/2/1969683/dashon-goldson-a-guy-many-49ers-fans-love-to-hate. Overall Goldson might not return to the 49ers and though he has injury concerns if he can recover from them he might be a steal.
Chance the Jaguars Sign: 75% - Goldson is the perfect fit for the Jaguars for multiple reasons. First off he had a poor 2010 season due to injuries so he will be a bargain. Second, with the 49ers brand new staff they will most likely not be as willing to match an offer sheet because they have no attachment to Goldson. Third, he is young and has all the physical tools to be a great safety. Its all down to whether the 49ers would match an offer but I think hes a great option based on price and skills.
Other Options (Quick Takes) :
Roman Harper (New Orleans) :
2010 Stats: 98 tackles, 76 solo, 3 sacks, 1 INT
Quick Take: Harper would be another decent option for the Jaguars. He is still young at 28 and is decent in both run support and coverage. He is a solid tackler as well. On occasion he has been caught out of position such as in the Saints playoff loss but overall he is still a good safety. The Jaguars might take a look at Harper if the price is right.
2010 Stats: 53 tackles, 39 solo, 1 sack, 1 INT
Quick Take: Pool has had a history of injuries but might be a decent option at safety. After a decent season with the Jets he will once again become a free agent. Though he would be worth a look by the Jaguars, Pool has already expressed his desire to stay with the Jets so it is unlikely that he will be moving anywhere this offseason.
2010 Stats: 112 tackles, 82 solo, 3 sacks
Quick Take: Pollard was a part of the leagues worst pass defense this past season but even still he would probably be an upgrade for the Jaguars secondary. Pollard has already decided to test the market. He is great in run support and tackling but is below average in coverage. Pollard would want a decent contract and if the Jaguars think they can work with him he might get a look.
The Rest (By Name) :
- George Wilson (Bills)
- Atari Bigby (Packers)
- Melvin Bullitt (Colts)
- Tom Zbikowski (Ravens)
- Abram Elam (Browns)
- Husain Abdullah (Vikings)
- Courtney Greene (Jaguars)
- Paul Oliver (Chargers)
Obviously a lot of things can change between now and when (or if) a new CBA is signed but this is a quick run down of the available safety free agents. This is just my opinion so feel free to tell me I am wrong and the list of these players was taken from WalterFootball's free agent rankings. Hope this interests you guys and then maybe Ill do some more.