Super Bowl LI: Futures unknown

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HOUSTON, Texas – Prince Amukamara doesn't know the future, but he does know this:

He wouldn't mind the Jaguars being in it.

The same is true of Johnathan Cyprien, with both Jaguars defensive backs saying on Thursday during a visit to Radio Row at Super Bowl LI that they would like to remain with the Jaguars next season.

Both are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March after starting for the Jaguars this past season.

"I seem to be liked within the Jaguars' organization, and I feel like I played well for them despite the year that we had,'' Amukamara told jaguars.com Thursday. "As a free agent, the ball's in their court. I'm definitely understanding that they've had to feel through all of the coaching vacancies. I'm just patiently waiting."

Amukamara, a starting cornerback for the Jaguars this past season, spoke to jaguars.com on Radio Row at Super Bowl LI Thursday. The veteran is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2017 League Year, but said his preference would be to return to the Jaguars.

Cyprien, a second-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, also said he would like to return to the Jaguars next season.

"Myself, what I've done the past four years or last season – that should be enough incentive for the Jaguars or any team to have me on their team," Cyprien said. "I feel like I'm a player who can impact an organization."

The Jaguars on January 9 hired Doug Marrone as head coach and Tom Coughlin as executive vice president of football operations. Marrone and the Jaguars announced the 2017 coaching staff Wednesday.

With free agency scheduled to open March 9, decisions about the future of pending free agents such as Amukamara, Cyprien, left tackle Luke Joeckel, defensive end Tyson Alualu and defensive tackle Abry Jones must be made in the coming weeks.

Amukamara, who signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars last offseason, signed that deal in part to prove he was worthy of a long-team deal moving forward – either with the Jaguars or another organization. He played at a high level for the most part; starting opposite rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey much of the season and helping the Jaguars' secondary improve.

Amukamura, who defensed six passes this past season, has strong connections with not only Coughlin, but secondary coach Perry Fewell.

Amukamara played for the New York Giants from 2011-2015, Coughlin's last five seasons as the Giants' head coach. Fewell was the Giants' defensive coordinator in Amukamara's first four seasons with the team. Amukamara said he has spoken to Fewell, but not Coughlin.

"It was great catching up with him," Amukamara said of Fewell. "Everything has just been small talk – nothing serious. Me and Coach Fewell had a great relationship. He was a coordinator, so he was at a different position, but I enjoyed playing with him."

The Jaguars retained defensive coordinator Todd Wash from last season, something Cyprien said could be a positive if he returns.

"With Wash there and me not having to earn another scheme or another system, that's definitely a plus because I'll be playing at a faster rate and I'll have players around me playing that fast as well," Cyprien said.

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BRIGHT FUTURE

Amukamara said whatever his future with the team he believes the Jaguars' defense will continue to improve. "I would say we're still on the rise," Amukamara said. "I feel like we left a lot of plays on the field last year." Amukamara also commented on cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie selection last season. "A lot of people say 'He's cocky, he's talky,''' Amukamara said. "But Jalen does a great job backing it up. He has that defensive back mentality of, 'It's short term.' If he gets beat, he's not worried about it. He knows how good he can be. We started to see the flashes and what the future could look like for him."

SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT

At least one NFL analyst believes the Jaguars can improve significantly next season.

ESPN analyst John Clayton said while the Jaguars' big issue is obviously the status and future of quarterback Blake Bortles, the team made strides in other areas.

"They brought in a lot of defensive players and actually hit on them," Clayton said. "It may not have showed in points allowed, but when you go from 24 to six [in the NFL in total yards allowed] and you look at the athletic improvement on the field, it's huge. It's significant. They exceeded expectations as far as the talent level as far as what they were able to do on defense, and now it's a matter of doubling back and fixing a few more things on defense and making sure they can get the quarterback right."

Clayton also said he expects the Jaguars to commit to the running game more under Marrone.

"It's been something that's kind of been missing for the last couple of years," Clayton said. "When you have a coach who worked on the offensive line, you know there's going to be more of an emphasis on the run."

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