The Jacksonville Jaguars have over $50 million to spend in free agency during the 2014 NFL offseason, that is if they choose to go free wheeling this summer. Florida Times-Union beat writer Ryan O'Halloran indicated on the radio he felt the team would shoot to sign one or two free agents right out of the gate, then let the market settle.
So, who are some players the Jaguars could target in free agency?
Pass rushers/defensive lineman:
The biggest area of need, outside of the quarterback position, for the Jaguars is simply a pass rusher. Be it from the linebacker position or a down end, they need someone who can consistently get to the quarterback.
Players who could fit:
Michael Bennett: Personally, I don't think Bennett gets out of Seattle, but if he does he would be a perfect fit on the Jaguars defensive line. While not a pure LEO, he's show he's effective in the Seahawks defensive system so he should be effective for the Jaguars.
Brian Orakpo: Like Bennett, I have a hard time seeing Orakpo actually hit the open market. The 27-year old pass rusher has 39.5 sacks in five (four) seasons with the Washington Redskins, so adding a proven pass rusher to the Jaguars would be a huge get, albeit an expensive get. He could play standing up for the Jaguars are with his hand on the ground as the LEO end.
Lamarr Houston: The former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman could hit the open market and at only 26 years old, could be right in that age-range the Jaguars are likely looking for. He's a bigger end at 6'3" and 300 pounds, but he's played all over the Raiders defensive line. He's not a sack artist, as he's got 16 in his four year career, but he's a consistent disruptor in the run and pass game. He could fit at the 5-technique and at 3-technique on passing downs.
Michael Johnson: For my money, Johnson is probably the best fit for the Jaguars defensive scheme on the open market. He's got experience with his hand on the ground and playing SAM linebacker for the Bengals. He saw a dip in sacks in 2013, but his hurries and disruption stayed right around the same as it did in his 11.5 sack 2012 season.
Everson Griffen: An under the radar pass rusher the Jaguars could pounce on early, if he's on their wish list. The 26-year old has played defensive end, tackle and rush linebacker for the Vikings. He tallied 13.5 sacks the past two seasons as a rotational player and seems primed to slide into a starting role.
O'Brien Schofield: Another former Seahawk who the Jaguars passed on claiming last season when he was released by the Cardinals. From what I was told, the Jaguars passed on Schofield last season because they did not want to claim his contract with his past injury history. After a full season healthy and an effective rusher for the Seahawks while they dealt with injuries, Schofield could be a fit at the SAM linebacker/second LEO role at just 26 years old.
Jason Worilds: The former Steelers pass rusher come on the past two seasons when he finally broke into the starting lineup, finishing with 5 and 8 sacks in 2012 and 2013. Worilds played down end at Virginia Tech in college, but could fit as a secondary LEO/full time SAM linebacker for the Jaguars.
Mike Neal: The 26-year old defensive lineman has played all over the line and at linebacker, settling in with the Green Bay Packers last season, starting 10 games and netting five sacks in 2013 and grabbing 4.5 sacks as a backup in 2012.
Earl Mitchell: While not a pass rusher, the Jaguars lacked depth at the nose tackle position. Mitchell isn't a traditional 3-4 nose and struggled in that role for the Houston Texans, but he's still a fit in a four man line at the shaded 1-technique. He's just 26 years old and could be someone the Jaguars are interested in for depth and rotation with the oft-injured Roy Miller.
The other big area the Jaguars need to inject talent into is on their offensive line, especially on the interior. There's a handful of younger interior offensive lineman the Jaguars could be interested in.
Players who could fit:
Jon Asamoah: The former Chiefs guard was benched for Geoff Schwartz for unknown reasons, I'm told it's likely because Asamoah was more suited for the zone scheme than what Andy Reid brought to the Chiefs, but he was graded highly by Pro Football Focus before the benching. The 25 year old could be a good value signing for the Jaguars, who run a zone blocking scheme.
Alex Mack: The premier center on the open market, but the Cleveland Browns have just as much cap room as the Jaguars, so it's tough seeing him leave the Browns. The 28-year old center would be a huge get for the Jaguars, but he's likely going to end up being the highest paid center in the league.
Geoff Schwartz: Another Kansas City Chiefs guard hitting the open market, the 27-year old Schwartz is more of a mauler than his former teammate Asamoah, but would also be a fit on the Jaguars. He can play both guard positions and even right tackle if necessary.
Rodger Saffold: The former Rams second-round pick can play all over the offensive line, including both guard positions and both tackle spots. Turns 26 this offseason but has missed 17 games the past three seasons with injuries. Likely will be a hot commodity in the offseason, but unlikely to net a big long term contract.
Evan Dietrich-Smith: A smaller offensive center suited for a zone blocking scheme, who could be right up the Jaguars alley. It doesn't seem the Packers are interested in bringing him back and he shouldn't be very expensive either. The 27-year old was ranked as PFF's No. 8 overall center in 2013, but he's limited to just the center position only.