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Jaguars release G Uche Nwaneri

Posted Mar 4, 2014

Release of veteran offensive guard Uche Nwaneri means offensive line will have dramatically new look next season.


JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars are certain to have a dramatically different look next season on the offensive line.

And that new look will largely be on the interior.

Uche Nwaneri, a veteran offensive guard and longtime starter for the franchise, was released Tuesday. He had been a starter since the beginning of the 2008 season.

Nwaneri’s release means the Jaguars will have at least two new starters on the interior of the offensive line next season. Veteran center Brad Meester retired following the 2013 season after 14 seasons with the organization.

Nwaneri, a fifth-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2007 NFL Draft from Purdue University, played nine games and started one as a rookie, then moved permanently into the starting lineup the following season. He was remarkably durable, missing just one game and five starts in the last six seasons.

Nwaneri played in 104 games for the Jaguars, starting 92. He started all 16 games last season.

He also was a key figure on the 2011 offensive line that helped Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew win the NFL rushing title and make a third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance.

The Jaguars since the end of last season have been expected to focus heavily on the interior of the offensive line. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell has said during the offseason the team could address the area in the draft or free agency, and said in February it could be a focus during the upcoming unrestricted free-agency period.

The Jaguars finished 31st in the NFL in rushing and allowed 50 sacks, the second-highest total allowed in the NFL last season.

Caldwell has said during the offseason he expects second-year veteran Luke Joeckel – the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft – to start next season at left tackle, with second-year veteran Austin Pasztor expected to start at right tackle. Joeckel missed all but five games last season with an ankle injury while Pasztor moved into the starting lineup at right tackle in Week 5.

Joeckel started the first four games at right tackle before moving to the left side after the Jaguars traded left tackle Eugene Monroe to the Ravens. Fourth-year veteran Cameron Bradfield is a restricted free agent and could be the swing tackle next season, backing up both spots.

The interior line is far more uncertain, with four experienced interior linemen now on the roster: third-year guard Jacques McClendon, third-year guard Drew Nowak, third-year guard/center Will Rackley and third-year veteran guard/center Mike Brewster.

Rookie free agent Stephane Milhim finished last season on injured reserve.

Meester and Nwaneri each started 16 games for the Jaguars last season, and combined, they missed just one start the last four seasons. The Jaguars’ left guard position has been significantly less certain in recent seasons. Rackley started 11 games there last season but finished the season on injured reserve.

Brewster started three games at left guard before also finishing the season on injured reserve, and McClendon started the final two games of the season there.

The NFL’s unrestricted free agency period is scheduled to begin Tuesday, March 11. Teams can begin negotiating with potential unrestricted free agents on Saturday, March 8.

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