With actual free agency on the horizon, likely within the week, we'll begin looking at free agency (for reals, y'all) and where the Jacksonville Jaguars will focus the some-$20-30 million they'll need to spend. First and foremost, the Jaguars will look to lock up their own in the 72-hour window that will allow teams to negotiate with their own free agents. According the Jaguars general manager Gene Smith, their top priority is Pro-Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis.
"Our own players will always be our first priority," Gene Smith told Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. "I've said this before that it is our objective to get a long-term deal done with Marcedes."
As most of us have said, Lewis is one of the most vital players on the Jaguars offense. He's a key cog in the running game, pass blocking, and has emerged to be the weapon we all thought he would be when he was drafted in the passing game. Lewis wants a long-term deal as well, and as I've mentioned before he may not show up to "work" until he gets one.
"All I can do is be optimistic about it," Lewis told Ganguli in a phone interview from Los Angeles. "I think both sides have an idea of where we want to go. I'm just going to continue to handle my side and let them take care of that. I'm hoping we can get it done and get me in camp."
Outside of Lewis, the Jaguars will be looking to bring back punter Adam Podlesh, who in my opinion had an exceptional season in 2010. Podlesh was the only restricted free agent the Jaguars tendered, but under the new CBA he's not expected to be a restricted free agent.
Linebacker Kirk Morrison is also likely to be re-signed, as the lockout made him a more viable option at linebacker. Morrison knows the Jaguars defensive system and would make an easy one or two year patch player at the middle linebacker position. While Morrison struggled early in the season, he began to get more comfortable in the Jaguars scheme and played a bit better as the season wound down.