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Free agency: A primer

Posted Mar 12, 2018

With the NFL’s pre-free agency negotiating window opening Monday at Noon, here’s a look at the Jaguars in advance of Wednesday’s start of the NFL’s 2018 League Year

JACKSONVILLE – Let the chaos begin.

The start of the NFL’s 2018 League Year is two days away, but make no mistake: the chaos and collective angst that is the NFL and Jaguars Twitterverse will kick into its annual mid-March frenzy in a matter of hours rather than days.

Thank the pre-free agency negotiating window for that.

That window opens Monday at Noon. Shortly after that, expect rumors and reports of interest – and deals getting close and finally getting done – to fill timelines and news scrolls.

What does it mean for the Jaguars? What can you expect? What are the rules?

Glad you asked.

Here’s a look at the Jaguars in advance of free agency opening:



The NFL’s pre-free-agency negotiating window opens Monday at Noon; the 2018 League Year – and the opening of free agency – opens Wednesday at 4 p.m. Until Monday at 11, teams have exclusive negotiating rights with players under contract in 2017; after Noon Monday, teams may negotiate with agents for players from any team – but until Wednesday at 4 p.m., a player can only sign with his former team. Players not under contract for 2018 may negotiate and sign with any team after 4 p.m. Wednesday; trades agreed upon in recent weeks can become official Wednesday at 4 p.m.



Look for news of negotiations between players and teams to begin Monday afternoon. While deals can’t become official until Wednesday at 4 p.m., many likely will be in place only to be finalized at that time.



Look for the Jaguars to be active when free agency begins Wednesday – though perhaps not to the high-profile extreme as the past two offseasons when they signed players such as defensive tackle Malik Jackson, defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson. The news in the coming days regarding the Jaguars’ own players likely will focus on wide receiver Allen Robinson, the most high-profile of the 11 Jaguars players scheduled to become a free agent. Nickel cornerback Aaron Colvin appears perhaps the most likely of the Jaguars’ free agents to re-sign. As far as the Jaguars’ interest in other free agents, the guess here is their splash free-agent positions will be offensive line and tight end with a focus on adding special teams and depth in free agency’s so-called second tier.



A look at the 11 Jaguars players scheduled to become UFAs on Wednesday at 4 p.m.:

*Robinson, wide receiver. The Jaguars’ most high-profile UFA candidate, Robinson is projected to be one of league’s top available free agents. … He missed all but one series in ’17 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. … The Jaguars declined to use the $16 million franchise or transition tag on him, meaning he – like all 11 of the Jaguars’ UFAs – is scheduled to become a free agent Wednesday. … The Jaguars like Robinson, but appear reluctant to pay big, cap-eating salary at the expense of being able to address other positions in free agency.

*Colvin, cornerback. The Jaguars consider nickel corner a starting position, and Colvin has emerged as one of the NFL’s best at the position. It’s possible the team could reach an agreement for Colvin to return to play inside and form perhaps the league’s best corner trio along with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.

*Marqise Lee, wide receiver. His status could depend on that of Robinson. If the team can’t reach deal with Robinson, it could look to return a receiving corps of Lee, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and a 2018 draft selection/2018 free-agent signee. …

*Patrick Omameh, guard. … The five-year veteran started 13 games last season. The team wants to upgrade the interior of the line, but could consider re-signing Omameh close to the league minimum.

*Chad Henne, quarterback. A 10-year veteran, Henne has been starter Blake Bortles’ backup since Week 4 of the 2014 season. The Jaguars must either draft or sign a backup quarterback, and Henne returning remains a possibility.

*Paul Posluszny, middle linebacker. The 11-year veteran started 16 games last season with a reduced role playing base situations while outside linebackers Myles Jack and Telvin Smith played in nickel situations.

Others: Tight end Mychal Rivera, safety Peyton Thompson, wide receiver Arrelious Benn, long snapper Matt Overton, linebacker Lerentee McCray.



The following positions appear to be the most likely Jaguars areas of interest:

*Interior offensive line. Top prospective free agents: Andrew Norwell, Carolina; Justin Pugh, New York Giants; Ryan Jensen (center), Baltimore; Jack Mewhort, Indianapolis; Weston Richburg (center), New York Giants; Josh Sitton, Chicago.

*Offensive tackle. Top prospective free agents: Nate Solder, New England; Chris Hubbard, Pittsburgh.

*Tight end. Top prospective free agents: Trey Burton, Philadelphia; Jimmy Graham, Seattle; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, New York Jets; Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati.

*Wide receiver: Sammy Watkins, Los Angeles Rams; Paul Richardson, Seattle; Albert Wilson, Kansas City.



Running backs Corey Grant and Tyler Gaffney and inside linebacker Donald Payne are scheduled to become restricted free agents Wednesday at 4 p.m.; tight end Ben Koyack, wide receiver Shane Wynn and offensive lineman William Poehls are exclusive rights free agents. RFAs who receive qualifying offers from their team may negotiate with other teams while ERFAs who receive qualifying offers must remain with their team.



Ivory, a running back with the Jaguars the past two seasons, is listed by some outlets as a Jaguars free agent. He has signed with the Buffalo Bills. The reason Ivory did not have to wait until March 14 to sign is he was released by the Jaguars February 23, making him a free agent immediately. Players such as Robinson, Lee and the others listed above are under contract with the Jaguars through March 14 and therefore not free until the league year begins.



Many observers are speculating that Hurns could be released for salary cap reasons because of his $7 million cap figure, but General Manager David Caldwell talked during the recent NFL Scouting Combine about needing to define a role for the veteran wide receiver. A key date to watch for Hurns is Friday: $4 million of his 2018 salary is guaranteed on that date, meaning if a renegotiation were to take place it likely would be before then.


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