Thomas B. Shea
The new general manager of the Jaguars should allow free agents like Derek Cox, Terrance Knighton and Rashad Jennings to leave via free agency.
The 2013 offseason will be the first of an impending rebuild for the Jaguars, undoubtedly under the direction of a new general manager, making decisions to shape the team as his own. His first opportunity to do so will come in March when free agency requires that he decide which outgoing Jaguars he should keep and which potential free agents he should target.
Among his first decisions with the team will be to figure out if Derek Cox, Terrance Knighton, Rashad Jennings and other impending free agents have a future with the team. A decision that, if left up to me, would result in a very different looking team in 2013 because the new general manager should let all the impending Jaguars free agents walk.
The last time the Jaguars earned a compensatory draft pick was in 2010 for their actions in free agency during the 2009 offseason. Despite signing offensive tackle Tra Thomas, wide receiver Torry Holt and safety Sean Considine, the losses of several players resulted in a sixth round draft pick awarded to the Jaguars in the 2010 NFL Draft.
In the first free agency of the new general manager's regime, I wouldn't be shocked to see it produce similar results as the 2009 offseason, with stop-gap free agents merely providing a bridge for a host of draft picks that will re-shape the future of the organization.
If you'd like a template for how I'd handle the 2013 offseason, look at what the Colts did with their 2012 spring and summer. While they signed Tom Zbikowski, Cory Redding and Donnie Avery, the turnover of the roster was obvious and several players that had become synonymous with Colts football were allowed to walk.
So what would I do with Cox, Knighton and Jennings? Let all of them walk. Each one is a risky addition that could work out for the Jaguars if re-signed, but I'd rather let another team take that chance. If it works out for those teams, great for them, the consolation for the Jaguars will be compensatory draft picks in the 2014 NFL Draft.
And as for guys like Daryl Smith, Rashean Mathis and Greg Jones (fullback), the Jaguars should let them walk too. Re-signing them would provide the Jaguars with a stop-gap, but none of the three are entirely necessary cogs for the team.
As the new general manager shapes the 2013 Jaguars in his own mold, he should look to do so with as much roster turnover as he possibly can. The only exceptions would be if losing a player would be very detrimental to the future of the team or the immediate product on the field. None of the impending Jaguars free agents qualify by those standards.