The NFL and NFLPA labor negotiations continue this week after extending the deadline on Friday another seven days. I am of the belief that a new CBA will be hammered out by the end of the week and we will be able to get on with our merry way with the NFL off-season. A deal should be reached for a new long-term CBA by the end of the week and once it is, free agency should start roughly 24 hours afterwards. So, what free agents should the Jacksonville Jaguars target? I've got five I think they should chase aggressively.
Eric Weddle, Safety
This is probably the most obvious to choice for any team who will need a safety in free agency, and quite a few teams will because the 2011 NFL Draft safety class is so poor. I'm sure Eric Weddle will be expensive, but a player at his age and caliber will be worth it. Weddle just turned 26 years old, so he is ripe for signing a long term contract and being a long-term fix at free safety for some teams. The Jaguars missed out on O.J. Atogwe and Bob Sanders, but in reality Eric Weddle is probably the best safety on the open market when it opens. Currently, the San Diego Chargers placed a restricted free agent tag on Weddle, but that should be remover once a new CBA is in place, as Weddle is a 5th year free agent.
Barrett Ruud, Linebacker
Currently, it looks like the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to let both Justin Durant and Kirk Morrison walk in free agency. That's two of the Jaguars starting three linebackers gone, so the Jaguars will need to add a starting caliber linebacker in more than the 2011 NFL Draft. Ruud will turn 28 this off-season, so he's also in his prime years as an NFL middle linebacker. He's proven to be durable and productive the last four seasons on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, missing only one game back in 2007 and notching 100+ tackles a season since becoming a full time starter. Ruud shouldn't cost a ton, but the feeling is Tampa Bay doesn't want to pay him.
James Jones, Wide Receiver
We've had a lengthy discussion on both side already about the Jacksonville Jaguars receiver position after letting Mike Sims-Walker hit free agency. The Jaguars have a lot of potential at the position, however I think they will still target a veteran receiver in free agency to round out the group. James Jones has spent four years on the Green Bay Packers as their number 2/3 receiver caught in a logjam of talented receivers. His hands are questionable at times, but he's a receiver who can get open down the football field and break tackles. He turns 27 at the end of the month and shouldn't cost an arm and a leg in free agency.
Victor Abiamiri, Defensive End
Victor Abiamiri isn't necessarily a sack machine at the defensive end position, but he's more of an all-around type end who can compete to be the starter at the left defensive end position. He's good at holding the point of attack on the edge against the run and gets decent pressure on the quarterback. He's buried on the Eagles depth chart currently and has had some injury issues, but he just turned 25 years old and is ripe to potentially break out on a new team. Abiamiri is currently a 4th year free agent, but he was not tendered by the Eagles.
Jeremy Trueblood, Offensive Tackle
Jeremy Trueblood started at right tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season and is set to be a free agent this off-season. Trueblood lost his starting position to James Lee last season, but he's a guy who can come in and compete with Eben Britton who's coming off a shoulder injury. The Jacksonville Jaguars released Jordan Black a few weeks ago and their current tackle depth is pretty bad. Adding a player like Trueblood could look to rectify that situation.