The Jacksonville Jaguars successfully cut down their roster from 70 to 53 last night, in somewhat surprising fashion. Some of the moves were expected, but there were also quite a few surprises.The biggest surprise of the night was the release of safety Gerald Alexander after sending safety Reggie Nelson to the Cincinnati Bengals. After Nelson was moved, it seemed like Alexander was assured a roster spot, but he was surprisingly released. It will be interesting to see if the Jaguars stand pat with their safeties as is. At this point, I would assume Tyrone Brackenridge is the starting free safety. I'm curious to see how Brackenridge does, he was very good as a nickel corner for the Jaguars last season and was solid against the run.
Speaking of nickel cornerbacks, the Jaguars also released Scott Starks, which I don't think anyone expected. "Scotty (Starks) has done a great job as our nickel so I feel like we’ve done a good job there," Del Rio said two weeks ago. I can't say that I saw Starks' play take a dive off a cliff since then, so there has to be other factors. A factor to consider with a few of these cuts, are that if Starks is on the opening day roster his salary is guaranteed because he's a vested veteran, whereas players like Don Carey are not.
I'd have to think Troy Williamson being released in favor of Tiquan Underwood holds the same weight, considering if Underwood doesn't give you anything you can also put him back on the practice squad later. Williamson I expect to get picked up, but it won't be quickly.
If you've been paying attention I was hinting at the release of Ernest Wilford and Kynan Forney. Forney sat out the final two preseason games while the Jaguars staff could fully evaluate Vince Manuwai and Justin Smiley. Forney had also been battling injuries and once the Jaguars saw what they wanted out of the other two guards, he became expendable. I also have to note that the Jaguars must have liked something they saw in Paul McQuistan who is a swing guard/tackle.
I'm not surprised Wilford was cut as much as I'm surprised the Jaguars actually pulled the trigger. Wilford is a fan favorite who had a strong training camp, but faded down the stretch. Not many people realize it, but Wilford is 31 years old. The team is getting younger, and a player like Zach Potter holds more upside at the future of tight end. Plus, with Zach Miller being more involved, the Jaguars were in need of another tight end who can block on the line, which Wilford could not. Wilford may also fall into the same financial category as Scott Starks, as Potter can be placed on the practice squad in the future.
I still feel the Jaguars are light at defensive tackle with the release of Atiyyah Ellison, despite the fact that Jeremy Mincey can play tackle in a pinch. Like safety, I'd expect the Jaguars to make a move at some point to bolster the position. Rolling with only three true defensive tackles is a big time gamble, considering the nicks and bruises the Jaguars players have suffered during the pre-season.