Over the course of the next few weeks I'm going to look at the Jaguars with contracts expiring at the end of the 2011 league year in March.
Rashean Mathis is one of, if not, the most underrated player on the Jaguars. He was, in my opinion, the best player in the Jaguars secondary in 2011 and has been for several seasons. Lack of safety help in recent years made the veteran look as though he gave up much more than his former self did, but with a significant improvement in the back of the secondary in 2011 the difference was evident.
However, the 31-year-old's contract has run its course and his time in Jacksonville, where he has spent his entire NFL career, may have ended when he tore his ACL against the Colts in November.
While the Jaguars may have some difficulty finding a CB capable of stepping into Mathis's place for 2012 without a significant drop off in quality of play it may be the way the team leans considering his age and the injury in which he is currently rehabbing for.
The Jaguars did, though, sign a 30-year-old Aaron Kampman to a relatively large contract during the 2010 summer after he suffered the same injury with the Packers. The deal didn't work out too well for the Jaguars as he tore his other ACL mid-way through the 2010 season and was entirely ineffective during the few times he was on the field in 2011, but it did show that the Jaguars are willing to take risks with those recovering from injuries.
Mathis also may be willing to take a hometown discount to finish his career with the Jaguars as he has said several times that he wishes to do so.
Regardless whether the Jaguars re-sign Mathis or not, they need to be on the hunt for a replacement at the position. That doesn't necessarily mean that they need to find a replacement this year and force them in as a rookie, though. If they re-sign Mathis it would give them the luxury of bringing up a young cornerback slowly and avoiding the rookie mistakes that can prove very costly at the cornerback position.