Although it may not be at the front of the minds of fans across Jacksonville with players like Jeremy Mincey, Matt Roth and Dwight Lowery set to hit the free agent market in search of riches, the most important signing for the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason may be kicker Josh Scobee.
Scobee is one of 11 unrestricted free agents who can test the market and possibly leave the franchise in March. The team, 5-11 on the season in 2011, needs Scobee to remain with the team, as he was one of only two consistent scoring threats last season alongside Maurice Jones-Drew.
Now that new management and a new head coach are in place, just how vital is Scobee's signing with the team to the ultimate success of the Jacksonville franchise? Hopefully so much so that the team would consider a franchise tag if the two sides could not reach an agreement on terms of a new deal.
Scobee has been with the team since they drafted him out of Louisiana Tech in the the fifth round of the 2004 draft.
While the defense was greatly improved last season for the Jaguars, ranking sixth overall in total defense, the offense struggled in the passing game and putting points on the board. While Jones-Drew carried the rushing load and won the league's rushing title, Scobee's leg was relied on many times because rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert could not move the ball into the end zone.
What kind of effect could Scobee's possible departure have on the team? About as much, if not more than when punter Adam Podlesh left the squad after the 2010 season.
In 2010, Podlesh was a free agent and signed a contract with the Chicago Bears, leaving a huge hole in that position. The team signed Matt Turk, who was released during the season. The Jaguars then signed Nick Harris, which stabilized the position, but Harris is also a free agent, which makes the need for Scobee to stay that much greater.
In a remark made on KKFL.com, Scobee stated that he wanted to wait until the offseason to discuss contract negotiations with the team in order to concentrate on kicking and helping the team win.