INDIANAPOLIS – The Jaguars' secondary could have a flux-ish feel next week.
Safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Prince Amukamara, both of whom started for the Jaguars last season, could test the free-agent market next week. General Manager David Caldwell confirmed as much Thursday at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.
Caldwell – who also on Thursday sounded warm to the Jaguars retaining veteran offensive lineman Luke Joeckel -- haven't ruled out bringing Cyprien and Amukamara back.
"For both of those guys I think it's important for them to hit the market and see what their value is, then circle back with their representation," Caldwell said late Thursday morning during his media availability at the Combine.
With the futures of Amukamara and Cyprien uncertain, that leaves two players under contract for next season who started in the secondary last season: rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey and free safety Tashaun Gipson, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Cleveland last offseason.
The cornerback class in free agency is considered comparatively strong, with Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye and Buffalo Bills cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore expected to become free agents.
Many analysts have mocked Louisiana State strong safety Jamal Adams to the Jaguars at No. 4 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
"We'll see what happens between now and the end of the negotiating period and where they're at," Caldwell said of Cyprien and Amukamara. "Obviously we would love to have Cyp back. For Prince, I think it's important in his second time in free agency to see where he's at. We'll go from there.
"It's a great year in the draft and free agency at those two positions."
Caldwell on Thursday also discussed the future of Joeckel, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent the same day as Cyprien and Amukamara. That's March 9, the first day of the 2017 NFL league year.
Joeckel, the No. 2 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2013 NFL Draft, started four games at right tackle and one at left in 2013 before a season-ending ankle injury. He then started at left tackle in 2014 and 2015 before moving to guard in 2016 after the Jaguars signed Kelvin Beachum, who started 15 games at left tackle last season.
Joeckel started four games at guard last season before sustaining ACL and MCL tears that ended his fourth season.
"Luke is a guy we'd like to have back," Caldwell said. "Obviously his health is a concern."
Caldwell said he could envision Joeckel at either guard or tackle.
"Looking back on the tape with our new staff, coach [Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom] Coughlin and [Head] Coach [Doug] Marrone looked at him at guard and he did fairly well there," Caldwell said.
The Jaguars' offensive line will enter the new league year with uncertainty, too. The team has traded with the Miami Dolphins for left tackle Branden Albert, a deal expected to be finalized on March 9. Right tackle Jermey Parnell, right guard A.J. Cann and center Brandon Linder started a combined 46 games at their respective positions for the Jaguars last season.
Left guard was less certain, with five players – Joeckel, Chris Reed, Patrick Omameh, Tyler Shatley and Jeremiah Poutasi – all starting.
The guard position is considered strong in free agency, with players such as Kevin Zeitler of Kansas City and Larry Warford of Detroit considered among the top players available regardless of position. Caldwell on Thursday told jaguars.com Linder likely will remain at center, though he also has NFL experience at guard. He said the team likes Cann and that Cann can play either left or right guard.
The team declined to exercise an option for Beachum, meaning he is eligible to become a free agent on March 9. Caldwell said the team has not ruled out a return for the veteran. Beachum has played both guard and tackle in the NFL.
Caldwell also said Parnell played well late in the season after playing through injuries early in the season.
"He played very well at the end of the year," Caldwell said.