The Jaguars got a head start on free agency on Friday by locking up defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks to a new four-year deal before he hit the open market this offseason. The contract was a sign that general manager Dave Caldwell is going to reward exceptional play and keep young guys who fit the new culture the Jaguars are trying to build moving forward.
Moving forward into the offseason, the Jaguars have 14 other players currently on the roster who are scheduled to be free agents. Using the Marks deal as an example, here are seven other free agents I think the Jaguars try and bring back this offseason.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Before the season, I would have told you there was no chance the Jaguars were going to bring back Maurice Jones-Drew next season. Now I think there is a very real chance that he finishes his career in Jacksonville. Jones-Drew is not the same player he was two years ago, but he remains the closest thing we have had to a face of the franchise in years. I think he senses that something special is brewing with the Jaguars and will want to go along for the ride.
QB Chad Henne
The Jaguars are sure to bring in another quarterback this offseason, but I think Henne comes back as a veteran backup for the young guy Caldwell gets in the draft. Henne is not going to carry a team to victory, but he is capable of winning a game in a pinch which is all you can ask for from a backup.
CB Will Blackmon
If Blackmon was just a defensive back, I don't think he would be back next year. However, Blackmon has proved to be a versatile special teams player capable of returning kicks as well. Unless some team makes him a ridiculous offer, I see Blackmon staying in Jacksonville.
WR Mike Brown
Brown is an exclusive-rights free agent this offseason, meaning the only team he can negotiate with is the Jaguars. Given all the turmoil at the receiver position this season, Brown has had a chance to shine and has proven to be a guy who can step in and perform in a pinch. He will serve as a nice insurance policy in case Justin Blackmon doesn't return in 2014.
OT Austin Pasztor
Pasztor is also an exclusive-rights free agent this offseason. He was forced into action this season when the team traded Eugene Monroe and then lost Luke Joeckel to an ankle injury. Pasztor has played admirably at right tackle this season and may have played his way into the teams 2014 plans at the position.
OT Cameron Bradfield
Bradfield is a restricted free agent, meaning the Jaguars will have the right to match any offer he receives from another team. Like Pasztor, Bradfield was forced into action and has played admirably at left tackle. While he isn't likely to be a starter in 2014 with Joeckel returning from injury, he is a valuable backup that can fill in at both left and right tackle.
RB Jordan Todman
Todman is also a restricted free agent this offseason. He has been the beneficiary of the Jaguars trying to manage Jones-Drew's workload this season and has proved to be a valuable change of pace back. With the very real chance that Jones-Drew does not return in 2014, the Jaguars will probably lock up Todman to play a role in the offensive backfield moving forward.
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