Wide receiver and quarterback are two of four positions the Jaguars are likely to address in free agency, as the team prepares to lose its leading receiver and backup quarterback.
Ernest Wilford and Quinn Gray are scheduled to hit the unrestricted free-agent market a week from now and all indications are the Jaguars have resigned themselves to losing Wilford, who led the team with 45 receptions last season, and Gray, who quarterbacked the Jaguars to two wins in a critical, three-game road stretch of schedule.
"I think Quinn will probably test the market. I think that's probably where it's heading. I think Wilford is a player we continue to discuss. He may end up testing the market," Jaguars player personnel boss James Harris said.
Defensive end and safety would seem to be the other two positions the Jaguars will attempt to address in free agency. Currently, these are some of the four position's top non-franchised prospects scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at midnight on Feb. 29.
Wide receiver—Bernard Berrian (Bears), Devery Henderson (Saints), Bryant Johnson (Cardinals), Randy Moss (Patriots), Reche Caldwell (Redskins), Jabar Gaffney (Patriots), Jerry Porter (Raiders).
Quarterback—Mark Brunell (Redskins), Todd Collins (Redskins), Daunte Culpepper (Raiders), Rex Grossman (Bears), Josh McCown (Raiders), Cleo Lemon (Dolphins).
Defensive end—Justin Smith (Bengals), Antwan Odom (Titans), Travis LaBoy (Titans), Chris Clemons (Raiders).
Safety—Erik Coleman (Jets), Pierson Prioleau (Redskins), Tank Williams (Vikings), Michael Boulware (Texans), Madieu Williams (Bengals), Eugene Wilson (Patriots), Gibril Wilson (Giants).
"The top guys have been franchised, but it'll still be a solid group," Harris said.
Today, Feb. 21, is the last day teams may designate "franchise" players and it's expected Berrian will be "franchised" by the Bears. Several would-be targets, such as defensive ends Jared Allen and Terrell Suggs, have effectively been taken off the market by having been "franchised." What appeared would be a deep free-agent crop has been considerably weakened in recent weeks.
"It's not really deep because of franchising and re-signing, but there are probably three or four good players in each category," Harris said. "We think we've got a good foundation and if we can upgrade the roster it would make us even better. The biggest thing is signing your own players. That's also part of free agency."
Defensive end Bobby McCray is also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, and it appears the Jaguars will allow McCray to test the market. Other Jaguars heading into unrestricted free agency are: Maurice Williams, Tutan Reyes, Stockar McDougle, LaBrandon Toefield, Shantee Orr, Aaron Glenn, Terry Cousin and Sammy Knight. The Jaguars signed Tony Gilbert on Thursday.
"We're working our way through our final process in terms of who we may go after. When you get this late, players are probably going to go into free agency and see what they can get," Harris said.
Defensive end would seem to be the Jaguars' position of greatest need. The Bengals' Smith, who was "franchised" last season, is not the top pass-rusher the Jaguars covet but he's by far the best of the every-downs guys available and Smith is likely headed for a big payday.
"It's not a deep crop (of defensive ends). There are maybe four or five guys and some of them fit a role and are pass-rushers. He's a good player," Harris said of Smith.
"We'll be aggressive when we get the right fit. The last few years we were aggressive, we just didn't sign a lot of guys," Harris added. "We want to continue what we've been doing; keep making good evaluations. You're also looking at where the draft (is strong). It's going to be a good year for offensive tackles, running backs, tight ends and corners."