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Caldwell: MJD likely to test free agency

Posted Dec 31, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars GM David Caldwell said he expects RB Maurice Jones-Drew to test free agent market in March.

JACKSONVILLE – David Caldwell offered no guarantees.

When it comes to quarterback, as well as wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the Jaguars’ general manager in the immediate aftermath of the 2013 season said Monday it’s too early to know for certain the future.

The same is true for running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

Jones-Drew, Blackmon and quarterback were among the topics discussed by Caldwell and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley at their season-ending press conference at EverBank Field Tuesday morning, with Caldwell saying the team likely will allow Jones-Drew to test unrestricted free agency.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection is scheduled to become a free agent March 11 – the start of the 2014 league year – and Caldwell said he doesn’t envision signing Jones-Drew before then.

“I think he has earned the right to go to free agency,” Caldwell said of Jones-Drew, who will enter his ninth NFL season next season. “I think this is first time. He’s been a great player in this organization and he’s had a great career.

“I think he has earned the right to go see what his value in this market is, then it’s our right to decide if we want to match it and bring him back.”

Jones-Drew on Monday said while he wants to return to Jacksonville, “it’s a monetary issue.”

On whether Jones-Drew’s return is a possibility, Caldwell said, “I’m not pessimistic at all about it.”

Caldwell also said he “cannot say with certainty” that the Jaguars will select a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft in May.

“There are no guarantees in the draft, and to be quite frank, we don’t even know who the quarterbacks are in the draft right now,” Caldwell said. “We would like to update a lot of our positions. Quarterback is one of them.”

Caldwell said the selection of a quarterback will depend on the availability of one in the draft, and said if there’s not a player worth selecting No. 3 overall he would have no problem passing on the position at that point.

Caldwell also said quarterback Chad Henne could be re-signed before free agency begins and that the team wants Blaine Gabbert to return next season.

“I talked with Blaine (Monday) and told him he’s a Jaguar and we’d like to have him back,” Caldwell said. “He’s under contract and he has made great strides this year. He wants to be back. That says a lot about Blaine, and we’re just taking it day-by-day and we’ll go from there.”

Henne started the final 11 games of the season, with Gabbert – the starter in the regular-season opener and the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft – the backup despite being healthy in the final nine games.

Of keeping Gabbert next season, Caldwell said, “There’s no down side. At the very least he’s a very good backup. He’s under contract, so there’s no reason why not to keep him here.”

Caldwell and Bradley also said they had little information on Blackmon, who was suspended indefinitely at midseason under the NFL substance abuse program.

“That’s a league issue,” Caldwell said. “Very limited contact is allowed with Justin.”

Caldwell said will approach Blackmon as if his return would be a “luxury for us and if he doesn’t we have to have the pieces in place.” The team could opt to address the position early in the draft.

Caldwell said he doesn’t expect significant roster turnover this offseason, and said he doesn’t expect the Jaguars to be more active in free agency this offseason than last in terms of the number of players acquired.

“I don’t know about bigger-name guys, but hopefully guys who make a bit more impact,” Caldwell said.

Also:

*Caldwell said he expects middle linebacker Paul Posluszny and tight end Marcedes Lewis to return next season. Each has a high salary and salary cap number next season, but Caldwell said the cap isn’t a major issue entering the offseason….

*Bradley and Caldwell said no changes are planned on the coaching staff or the personnel side entering their second season. “I think that (continuity) is really important for our guys right now,” Bradley said….

*The Jaguars are not confirmed to coach the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on January 25, but Bradley said the opportunity would be “awesome.” Senior Bowl officials have indicated this week that the Jaguars are a favorite to coach the game. “It’s a great opportunity,” Bradley said…

*Running backs coach Terry Richardson and tight ends coach Ron Middleton will coach in the East-West Shrine game, Caldwell said.

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