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2017 offseason: An early look at free agency


JACKSONVILLE – And now we wait – and speculate.

That's what the coming weeks will be about in the NFL, because the coming weeks are the lead-in to the start of the 2017 league year.

That's March 9, and that's when free agency begins.

We'll start getting an idea about the future direction of the Jaguars and the other 31 NFL teams as that date approaches. Look for teams to begin re-signing their own free agents in the coming weeks. Look, too, for teams to begin parting ways with veterans as they plan rosters and clear cap space in preparation for the new league year.

The Jaguars like every team must make key decisions regarding their own free agents, players such as guard Luke Joeckel, safety Johnathan Cyprien, defensive tackle Abry Jones, running back Denard Robinson and cornerback Prince Amukamara.

They also must decide which free agents to target. That's where speculation will run the most rampant. Don't look for Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, Head Coach Doug Marrone or General Manager David Caldwell to share much in that area. There's nothing to gain from that.

So it will be up to the public and observers to ponder key free-agent questions:

*Will the Jaguars address competition for quarterback Blake Bortles?

*Will they address left guard there, or right tackle?

*Will they address safety? Or corner?

Some of those questions may sort themselves out as the Jaguars re-sign their own free agents as March 9 approaches. Some will remain a mystery until Twitter blows up during the few days leading to the league year. Stay tuned.

Until then, here's the first of a two-part early, early look at free agency. This focuses on offense. Part 2 will focus on defense.

Here's Part 1:


Top pending free agents: Kirk Cousins (29), Redskins; Mike Glennon (27); Buccaneers; Brian Hoyer (31), Bears; Matt Barkley (26), Bears; Geno Smith (26), Jets; Matt Schaub (36), Falcons; Case Keenum (29), Rams; Blaine Gabbert (27), 49ers; Landry Jones (28), Steelers; Ryan Mallett (29), Ravens; E.J. Manuel (27), Bills; Mark Sanchez (30), Cowboys; Christian Ponder (29), 49ers; Ryan Nassib (27), Giants.

Jaguars quarterbacks:Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Brandon Allen.

Pending Jaguars free agents:None.

Comment:This list shows the importance of drafting and developing a quarterback. It's typically difficult to find a starting quarterback in free agency and it will be difficult this offseason, too. Cousins isn't likely to reach free agency. Speculation is Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets, Jay Cutler of the Bears and/or Tony Romo of the Cowboys could be released before free agency. Is there competition for Bortles somewhere in this sea of names? Stay tuned.

Running backs

Top pending free agents:Le'Veon Bell (25), Steelers; Eddie Lacy (26), Packers; LeGarrette Blount (30), Patriots; Latavius Murray (26), Raiders; Darren McFadden (30), Cowboys; Danny Woodhead (32), Chargers; Jacquizz Rodgers (27), Buccaneers; Matt Asiata (30), Vikings; Christine Michael (26), Packers; Shaun Draughn (29), 49ers; Fozzy Whittaker (28), Panthers; DeAngelo Williams (34), Steelers; Reggie Bush (32), Bills; Joique Bell (31), Lions; Justin Forsett (31), Broncos.

Jaguars running backs:T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory, Corey Grant, Denard Robinson, Joe Banyard, Daryl Richardson, Bronson Hill.

Pending Jaguars free agents: Robinson, Banyard.

Comment:This doesn't seem a likely Jaguars free-agency target. Ivory and Yeldon shared carries last season, with Ivory signing as a free agent in the 2016 offseason and with Yeldon a second-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. This position could get interesting for the Jaguars during the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Will Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette entice the Jaguars to use the No. 4 overall selection on a back? That promises to be a key question in the coming months.


Top pending free agents:Kyle Juszczyk (26), Ravens; James Develin (29), Patriots; Patrick DiMarco (28), Falcons; Others: John Kuhn (34), Saints; Jerome Felton (31), Bills.

Jaguars fullbacks:None.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment:The Jaguars did not utilize a fullback the past two seasons. If that changes under coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, this could be a free-agent area of focus.

Wide receivers

Top pending free agents:Alshon Jeffery (27), Bears; DeSean Jackson (31), Redskins; Terrelle Pryor (28), Browns; Kenny Britt (28), Rams; Kenny Stills (25), Dolphins; Pierre Garcon (31), Redskins; Robert Woods (25), Bills; Michael Floyd (27), Patriots; Kendall Wright (27), Titans; Anquan Boldin (36), Lions; Brandon LaFell (30), Bengals; Adam Thielen (27), Vikings; Jeremy Kerley (28), 49ers; Terrance Williams (27), Cowboys; Ted Ginn (32), Panthers; Cordarrelle Patterson (26), Vikings;  Kamar Aiken (28), Ravens; Brian Quick (28), Rams; Marquise Goodwin (26), Bills; Vincent Jackson (34), Buccaneers; Jordan Norwood (30), Broncos.

Jaguars wide receivers:Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, Bryan Walters, Rashad Greene Jr., Arrelious Benn, Jamal Robinson, Tony Washington, Shane Wynn.

Pending Jaguars free agents: Walters, Benn.

Comment:This seems like an unlikely Jaguars area of free-agent focus with Robinson, Hurns and Lee all entering their fourth seasons and all having been productive at various times in their careers.

Tight ends

Top pending free agents:Martellus Bennett (30), Patriots; Jared Cook (30), Packers; Jack Doyle (27), Colts; Luke Willson (27), Seahawks; Jacob Tamme (32), Falcons; Vernon Davis (33), Redskins; Jermaine Gresham (29), Cardinals; Jordan Cameron (29), Dolphins; Dion Sims (26), Dolphins; Mychal Rivera (26), Raiders; John Phillips (30), Saints; Clay Harbor (30), Lions; Logan Paulsen (30), Bears; Brandon Myers (31), Buccaneers; Ryan Griffin (27), Texans.

Jaguars tight ends:Marcedes Lewis, Ben Koyack, Julius Thomas, Neal Sterling, Alex Ellis, Gannon Sinclair, E.J. Bibbs.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment:There are no pending Jaguars free agents, but the dynamics of this position could change for the Jaguars in the coming weeks. Thomas, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2015, has $3 million in guarantees due at the start of the league year, so the team likely will decide on his future before then.


Top pending free agents: Andrew Whitworth (35), Bengals; (RT) Ricky Wagner (27), Ravens; (RT) Riley Reiff (28), Lions; Sebastian Vollmer (33), Patriots; Mike Remmers (28), Panthers; Jordan Mills (26), Bills; Earl Watford (27), Cardinals; Bradley Sowell (28), Seahawks; Ben Ijalana (28), Jets.

Jaguars tackles:Kelvin Beachum, Jermey Parnell, Josh Wells, Jeremiah Poutasi, Colin Kelly, Arturo Uzdavinis.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment:This is another position where the Jaguars must make decisions in the coming weeks. Beachum signed a one-year deal last offseason with a four-year option and he seems likely to return. Parnell has three years remaining on the five-year deal he signed in 2015, but there is no dead money on the Jaguars' salary cap if Parnell does not return next season. That makes right tackle an area worth watching for the Jaguars in the draft and free agency.


Top pending free agents:Kevin Zeitler (27), Bengals; T.J. Lang (29), Packers; Larry Warford (26), Lions; Evan Mathis (35), Cardinals;  Ronald Leary (28), Cowboys; John Jerry (31), Giants; Austin Pasztor (26), Browns; Jahri Evans (34), Saints; Stefen Wisniewski (28), Eagles; Chance Warmack (25), Titans; Chris Chester (34), Falcons; Jermon Bushrod (33), Dolphins; Ted Larsen (30), Bears; Vladimir Ducasse (29), Ravens.

Jaguars guards: A.J. Cann, Luke Joeckel, Patrick Omameh, Tyler Shatley, Chris Reed, Nilah Kasitati.

Pending Jaguars free agents:Joeckel, Omameh.

Comment:This seems a likely area for Jaguars free-agency activity. Zeitler is considered one of the top free agents on the market, as is Warford – and both are in the ideal age for signing an unrestricted free agent from another team. Also worth watching is the Jaguars' decision about Joeckel, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft who started four games at guard last season before a season-ending knee injury.

* *


Top pending free agents:A.Q. Shipley (31), Cardinals; Joe Hawley (28), Buccaneers; J.C. Tretter (26), Packers; Ryan Groy (26), Bills.

Jaguars centers: Brandon Linder, Luke Bowanko.

Pending Jaguars free agents:None.

Comment:Movement here in free agency for the Jaguars appears unlikely.

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