Since 2008, the last year of "Shack" Harris regime, the Jaguars FA finds have steadily improved, not that it was possible to do any worse than the class of ’08. Hit the jump to see the results of an inside look at the slow but steady improvement of the Jags FA acquisitions over the past couple of years.
Drayton Florence CB – Cut after just one season, Florence was not even close to the player that he had been in the past, and his mammoth contract did not exactly help matters.
Jerry Porter WR – Along with Florence, one of the biggest busts in Jaguar history. Shack gambled, and lost big on Porter. After giving him a mammoth contract worthy of a top-flight receiver, Porter flamed out in Jacksonville, also getting cut after the ’08 season.
Cleo Lemon QB – While you can’t say Lemon was, excuse the pun, a lemon, the $3 million a year contract they signed him for didn’t add up to his inadequate skill set, and he was released following the season.
Jimmy Kennedy DT – A low priced pickup, Kennedy signed a $650,000, 1 year deal and was cut mid-way through the season after registering only a handful of tackles.
Pierson Prioleau SS – Another lower profile signing, Prioleau was let go after the season, continuing the trend of bad choices in free agency.
Bo Schobel DE – After being released after the season, the only news noteworthy was that he played the next year for the Florida Tuskers of the UFL. Another low-risk type addition that just didn’t pan out.
I’m not a fan of giving grades, but it's okay to say that the class of ’08 was simply terrible. Not one player remains with the team today, and the same is true of the equally terrible draft class. Gambles on Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves in the draft highlighted the last year of the wild, high-flying times of Harris, and calmer heads prevailed when Gene Smith was promoted to GM.
Tra Thomas OL – Billed as the man who would be able to help the O-Line recover from 2008’s terrible season, Thomas was too old to be a significant upgrade, signing his deal at the age of 35. It comes as no surprise then that he is no longer with the team, being released after the season.
Torry Holt WR – Holt is often compared to Porter on terms of a lack of production, but the deal given to Holt was much more in line with what he produced. On a team of young receivers, both Mike Thomas and Jarrett Dillard were drafted in ’09, he imparted some of his wisdom into the youngsters. While he can’t be labeled as a success, he was not nearly as bad Porter.
Sean Considine SS – Signed with the intent to bolster the secondary, Considine never became the player the Jags needed him to be, as evidenced by the later acquisition of Gerald Alexander in a trade. Both players are now gone, replaced by newer blood.
Montavious Stanley DT – A low-profile signing, Stanley followed in the footsteps of Jimmy Kennedy, a low priced signee that was unable to make things work.
Adam Seward ILB – Seward was signed with the intent to hopefully replace Mike Peterson, or at the least provide good depth for a shoddy linebacking corps. The emergence of Russell Allen as an UDFA helped push Seward to the wayside, as he was an versatile backup for all three linebackers.
Marlon McCree FS – Another small-time free agent, McCree never really caught on with the Jags, and was released a couple months after he signed. Sadly, he was unable to return to his form of the early 2000’s, when he played well for the Jaguars for a couple of seasons.
Aaron KampmanDE – Coming off a solid, Pro-Bowl season with Green Bay, Kampman was hailed as the savior of a stagnant D-Line after the departures of Marcus Stroud and Big John Henderson. Sadly, his injury woes were too great, as he never produced double digit sacks in his time with the Jags, and was recently cut.
Kassim Osgood WR – The first acquisition that really stands out as a good decision, Osgood was an ace on special teams, even making a Pro-Bowl for his special teams work. His skills as a wideout, however, were lacking, and the team let him go at the end of last season.
Freddie Keiaho OLB – Signed after spending time with the Colts, Keiaho spent most of the season on IR, and was released in December of 2010 without making an impact.
Finally, we get to the good stuff. Following two solid drafts by GM Gene, he finally hit it big in free agency, vastly improving the defensive unit, which ranked 6th in the league last season.
Jason Spitz OL – Spitz was signed to help improve the O-Line, and beat out Justin Smiley in training camp for a spot on the roster. He is still with the team, which, considering recent years, should be seen as a plus because he provides valuable depth.
Paul Posluszny MLB – A stud MLB, Posluszny led the team in tackles last year, and has earned every penny of his contract worth roughly $40 million, with $15 million guaranteed. He was injured at the end of last season, but is back at full health now.
Clint Session OLB – Before being sidelined by concussions, Session was the perfect complement to free agent Posluszny and in-house star Daryl Smith, playing as well as he did in Indy, thumping the ballcarrier consistently. The linebacking corps is now one of the strongest units in the league, thanks to the two solid hits by Gene.
Dawan Landry SS – Another reason for the vast improvement of the Jaguars D, Landry filled a gaping hole left by the poor play of Considine, Alexander, and others. His 5-year, $27 million contract should keep around the steady Landry for a while to come, so long as his play alongside Dwight Lowry keeps up.
Matt Turk P – Alas, there had to be a downside to this free agent class, and Matt Turk is it. His awful punting forced his release mid-season, and most likely impacted the controversial 3rd round selection of punter Bryan Anger.
Matt Roth DE – A player the team really liked, Roth was a cheaper addition who showed promise on the field with a couple sacks before being put on IR about halfway through the season. He was a free agent after the season, and the Jags didn't look to bring him back, believing in their current rotation with rookie Andre Branch.
Drew Coleman CB – Coleman played well in the nickel cornerback position. His inability to move outside when Derek Cox, then Rashean Mathis got injured however, along with his contract, caused his time to end in Jacksonville after only one season.
I left you with a word on the awful 2008 class, and I’ll end here with a note of hope on the 2011 class. While it’s only one year removed, and injuries and other problems can derail good carreers as quickly as they’re started, the solid play of last years additions improved the team tremendously, and I believe that we finally have the right of cautious optimism about the direction Gene Smith is headed with regards to free agents. With his focus on character, even going so far as to invite the wives of players to the facilities, his track record has slowly gotten better, and hopefully he’ll continue on this track for a long, long time.