Free agency: A primer

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) huddles with his offense during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) huddles with his offense during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

JACKSONVILLE – The frenzy draws nigh.

The much-anticipated start of the NFL 2019 League Year is two days away. With that will come the league’s annual free-agency frenzy, but the chaos actually begins Monday.

That’s because the NFL’s pre-free agency negotiating window – its so-called “legal-tampering” period – begins Monday at noon. Shortly after that, expect rumors and reports of interest – and reports of deals getting close and finally getting done – to fill Twitter timelines.

What does it mean for the Jaguars? Glad you asked.

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

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN

The NFL’s pre-free-agency negotiating window opens Monday at noon; the 2019 League Year – and the opening of free agency – opens Wednesday at 4 p.m. Until Monday at noon, teams have exclusive negotiating rights with players under contract in 2018; 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 2019 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.

WHAT TO EXPECT

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.

WHAT WILL THE JAGUARS DO?

This figures to be a dramatically different free-agency period than the past several free-agency periods for the Jaguars, but there’s a strong chance these could be a high-profile few days. League-wide speculation is the team could sign Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who will become a free agent Wednesday at 4 p.m. and who is considered the top quarterback on the market. Reports also have had the Jaguars interested in New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. For now, all of that is speculation. Outside of quarterback, it’s possible the Jaguars could be relatively quiet compared to past offseasons when they have signed multiple high-profile free agents such as safety Tashaun Gipson (2016), defensive tackle Malik Jackson (2016), cornerback A.J. Bouye (2017), defensive end Calais Campbell (2017), safety Barry Church (2017), cornerback D.J Hayden (2018), wide receiver Donte Moncrief (2018) and guard Andrew Norwell (2018).

WHAT HAVE THE JAGUARS ALREADY DONE?

The Jaguars in recent weeks have made multiple roster moves to prepare for the start of the league year, most notably this past Friday when they released Gipson, Jackson, running back Carlos Hyde, offensive lineman Jermey Parnell and long snapper Carson Tinker. They released kicker Kai Forbath earlier in the offseason. The team last week also re-signed long snapper Matt Overton and re-signed kicker Josh Lambo last month, having re-signed safety Jarrod Wilson earlier in the offseason. They also exercised the options on the contracts of defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive end Lerentee McCray and safety Cody Davis to ensure they will remain with the team in 2019. The team declined the option on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, although General Manager David Caldwell recently said there is a chance Seferian-Jenkins could return next season if he doesn’t sign elsewhere in free agency. The team also earlier in the offseason signed running back Thomas Rawls and quarterback Alex McGough.

WHAT ABOUT BLAKE BORTLES?

Speculation has been rampant since late last season that Bortles – the Jaguars’ starting quarterback from Week 4 of 2014 through Week 12 of 2018 – will be released sometime around the start of the 2019 NFL League Year. As that date approaches, that remains speculation and Bortles remains on the Jaguars’ roster.

BREAKING DOWN THE UFAS …

A look at the 16 Jaguars players scheduled to become UFAs on Wednesday at 4 p.m.:

*Blake Bell, tight end. Signed as a free agent in October, Bell started four of 10 games played and caught eight passes for 67 yards and no touchdowns. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him for a reserve role.

*Tommy Bohanon, fullback. Signed as a free agent in the 2017 offseason, Bohanon has started 16 of 32 games played the past two seasons. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him.

*A.J. Cann, right guard. A third-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2015 NFL Draft, Cann has started 59 games in four games with the Jaguars. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him, but he figures to draw interest in free agency and sign elsewhere.

*Ereck Flowers, right/left tackle. Signed in October after being waived by the New York Giants, Flowers – the No. 9 overall selection in the ’15 draft by the Giants – started the final seven games at left tackle for the Jaguars last season. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him for a reserve role.

*Corey Grant, running back. Signed as collegiate free agent, he has played in 38 games with two starts and was expected to be a key part of the offense before a season-ending Lisfranc injury in a Week 5 loss at Kansas City. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him depending on his health.

*Rashad Greene, wide receiver. A fifth-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2015 NFL Draft, Greene played 25 games with one start in four seasons with the team and caught 30 passes for 185 yards with two touchdowns. He is not expected to re-sign.

*Donte Moncrief, wide receiver. A 2018 unrestricted free agent signing from the Indianapolis Colts, he caught 48 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns last season. He signed a one-year contract in ’18 and is unlikely to re-sign with the Jaguars.

*Patrick Omameh, guard/tackle. Signed in November after being waived by the Giants, Omameh – who started 20 games at left guard for the Jaguars in 2016-2017 – started the Jaguars’ final five games at left guard last season. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him.

*James O’Shaughnessy, tight end. Claimed off waivers from New England shortly before the 2017 season, he has started 10 of 30 games with 26 receptions for 237 yards in two seasons. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him.

*Tyler Patmon, cornerback. Signed as a free agent in May 2017, Patmon has played in 25 games with two starts over two seasons. He is not likely to be re-signed.

*Corey Robinson, tackle. Signed as a free agent in November 2018, he started one of four games for the Jaguars last season. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him.

*Austin Seferian-Jenkins. A 2018 unrestricted free agent signing from the New York Jets, he caught 11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown last season in five games before season-ending core-muscle surgery. The team declined his option for 2019.

*Tyler Shatley, guard. Originally signed as a collegiate free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft, Shatley has started 15 of 62 games played in five seasons – and has been perhaps the team’s most-reliable backup lineman in that span. He started the last seven games at center this past season following a season-ending knee injury to Brandon Linder. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him.

*Josh Walker, offensive guard/tackle. Originally signing with the Jaguars as a free agent in September 2017, Walker spent 2017 as a reserve before starting four games for the Jaguars last season at left tackle. He missed the last seven games last season with foot/ankle injuries. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him.

*Josh Wells, right/left tackle. Originally signed as a collegiate free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft, Wells entered the ’18 season as the team’s swing tackle and started three games at left tackle following a season-ending knee injury to Cam Robinson. Wells missed eight games with a groin injury and started Weeks 15 and 16 at right tackle before a season-ending concussion. The team likely wouldn’t rule out re-signing him.

*T.J. Yeldon, running back. A second-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2015 NFL Draft, Yeldon started 30 of 51 games played for the Jaguars and rushed for 1,892 yards and six touchdowns while catching 171 passes for 1,302 yards and six touchdowns. He is unlikely to re-sign with the Jaguars.

JAGUARS AREAS OF NEED

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

*Quarterback. Top prospective free agents: Foles; Bridgewater; Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland; Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay; Josh McCown, New York Jets; Robert Griffin III, Baltimore.

*Tight end. Top prospective free agents: Jared Cook, Oakland; Jesse James, Pittsburgh; Nick Boyle, Baltimore; Luke Stocker, Tennessee; Maxx Williams, Baltimore; Marcedes Lewis, Green Bay; Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati; C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati; Tyler Kroft, Cincinnati; Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona; Jeff Heuerman, Denver; Levine Toilolo, Detroit; Geoff Swaim, Dallas; Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers; Demetrius Harris, Kansas City; Lance Kendricks, Green Bay; Richard Rodgers, Philadelphia.

*Offensive line. Top prospective free agents: Trent Brown, tackle, New England; Daryl Williams, tackle, Carolina; Ja’Wuan James, tackle, Miami; Rodger Saffold, guard, Los Angeles Rams; Mitch Morse, center, Kansas City; Ty Nsekhe, left tackle, Washington; Matt Paradis, center, Denver; Ramon Foster, guard, Pittsburgh; Quinton Spain, guard, Tennessee; John Miller, guard, Buffalo.

OTHER JAGUARS FREE AGENTS

Offensive guard Chris Reed is scheduled to become a restricted free agent Wednesday at 4 p.m., and wide receiver Jaydon Mickens is an exclusive rights free agent. RFAs who receive qualifying offers from their team may negotiate with other teams while ERFAs who receive qualifying offers must remain with their team.

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