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.
One of the better developments of the 2011 season was the emergence of defensive end Jeremy Mincey. He proved that he can be an every downs DE and if the Jaguars are able to re-sign him, he will surely start on the defensive line and provide the Jaguars with a threatening pass rusher. However, the player that would start at the other defensive end position is completely up in the air.
Among the candidates for the job would be Matt Roth. After being signed to a one year, $3 million deal with the Jaguars, Roth, 29, started nine games with Aaron Kampman and Austen Lane both injured. He played well in the spot recording 3.5 sacks and serving as a stout run defender before a concussion ended his season.It seems like a given at this point that the Jaguars will release Aaron Kampman. Due almost $5 million in 2012 and about $6.5 million in 2013, it doesn't make much sense for the Jaguars to keep Kampman after ACL tears in consecutive seasons that appeared to cripple the veteran in 2011 and during the few times he saw the field he displayed zero burst or explosion off the line.
With Kampman gone and Roth's contract expiring, the only defensive ends on the roster would be John Chick, Aaron Morgan, Austen Lane, Jammie Kirlew and George Selvie. I'm certainly optimistic about the development of players like Chick, Morgan and Lane, but none can be considered "proven" players by a long shot at this point in their careers.
Roth, if re-signed, will give the Jaguars a player that can be a starting quality end. Whether or not they add a starting level defensive end in the draft will remain to be seen, but I'm certainly not a fan of entering the draft with a need that has to be met early that forces the hand of management.
The other option would be for the Jaguars to look for a higher quality defensive end in free agency like Mario Williams, Robert Mathis or Cliff Avril to fill the void. Roth may be a little too pricy of a free agent for someone that isn't signed with the intention to start and instead be used rotationally.