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Can the Jacksonville Jaguars Afford to Take Another Risk On a Free Agent Defensive End?

June 23rd, 2011 at 12:46 PM
By Brendan Sonnone

The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to spend a fair amount of money on free agents. That much has been told to the public

The team desperately needs a safety and will likely address that position first. Wide receiver and linebacker could also use some TLC.

But one position that is a weakness—and will likely remain that way even after free agency—is defensive end.

Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Jon Kitna is sacked by Jacksonville Jaguars' Aaron Kampman during the third quarter in Arlington, Texas October 31, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

 

The Jaguars’ have been targeting a pass-rusher for what seems like most of my early adult life and they’ve never really been able to get it right, which is why I cannot see the team again investing in a fairly high-profile end.

A brief history lesson: 

  • Marquee free agent Hugh Douglas was signed in 2003 and turned out to be a complete bust. 
  • In 2005 the Jaguars added Reggie Hayward in free agency and he logged 8.5 sacks his first season with the team, but injuries derailed the rest of his tenure in Jacksonville. 
  • The Jaguars aimed towards the future in 2008 when they used their first and second round selections on Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, respectively. Jacksonville traded up in both rounds to get each player and neither has panned out. The Jaguars traded Groves to Oakland for a fifth round pick in 2010 and Harvey has been put on blast by Jacksonville general manager Gene Smith for his lack of production.
  • Aaron Kampman was brought in last offseason as a free agent and performed well (four sacks in eight games) before he suffered his second torn ACL in the past two seasons. 

You can’t say the Jaguars haven’t been diligent in their attempt to improve a pathetic pass rush (the Jaguars had 15 in 2009 and 26 in 2010) but things just haven’t panned out. 

There are some productive ends available in free agency—namely Jason Babin (12.5 sacks with Tennessee last year), Charles Johnson (11.5 sacks with Carolina), Mathias Kiwanuka (four sacks with the New York Giants) and Ray Edwards (16.5 sacks the past two years with the Minnesota Vikings)—but will the Jaguars make a run at any of these pass-rush specialists?

Simply put, no.

I cannot fathom the Jaguars going after another defensive end in the way of free agency. Gene Smith wants to build through the draft and probably wants to address the position on his own terms, not be forced into adding one. Plus if the team makes a full-time switch to a 3-4 defense they'll be left with a 4-3 end who may or may not be able to make the transition. 

That doesn’t mean I would be against the Jaguars adding a high-motor guy like Johnson, but with Harvey down to make $3 million and Kampman set to enter the second year of his four-year, $26 million contract, it seems unlikely that the front office will invest any more into position for the time being.

Tags: Aaron Kampman, Defensive End, Football, Free Agency, free agent, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jaguars, NFL

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