5 Jacksonville Jaguars Who May Not Return in 2012
"Expendable" is a harsh word, but it highlights the reality of the role turnover plays in football. By turnover I don't mean giving the ball to the other team, but rather the turning over of certain roster spots from incumbents to new faces.
Turnover is a necessary evil in the NFL, and the main reason roster spots are turned over is because the outgoing player is deemed expendable by the team.
Why would a player be considered expendable? Maybe his performance fell off dramatically. Maybe he suffered a career-altering injury. Maybe he was simply outplayed by his backup, or maybe his contract is simply too high to make sense for the team.
Though as fans, some of us would love to have certain players stay in our favorite team's uniform for their entire careers, sometimes it simply isn't realistic. Like most teams, the Jaguars have plenty of players that will start the 2012 season in a different uniform than the one in which they ended 2011.
NFL front offices have to make tough decisions; the Jaguars will have several to make this offseason. Here are five players who may not be back in a Jaguars uniform in 2012.
Cornerback Rashean Mathis
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A Jaguar since 2003, Mathis has been a fan favorite for many years. He used to be near the top of the list of the league's elite cornerbacks, including being named first-team All-Pro in 2006.
Mathis intercepted 18 passes between 2004 and 2006, and managed to rack up 57 passes defensed over that same span.
Turning 32 this August, Mathis isn't the same player he used to be. He still played relatively well in 2011, but his season was cut short by a torn ACL in Week 10 against the Colts.
A 32-year-old recovering from ACL surgery isn't exactly something I'd expect a young up-and-coming team to have in its plans. Mathis may be brought back on a one-year "prove it" deal, but I expect him to find such a deal with another team.
After eight years with the team, it will take some getting used to, but I think we have seen the last of Rashean Mathis in a Jaguars uniform.
Fullback Greg Jones
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Greg Jones has been a fan favorite since his addition to the roster in 2004. His punishing blocks and toughness are exactly what any team would want from a fullback, and Jones is one of the league's best.
Pro Football Focus ranked Jones as its third-best fullback, and he's only going to be 31 this year, which isn't too old for a lead blocker.
Why, then, might Jones find himself with a ticket out of town?
In 2008, Jones signed a five-year, $17.4 million contract. This contract pays him $3.4 million in 2012, the last year of the deal. New offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski's offense utilizes more multiple-receiver looks and less traditional backfield sets, meaning Jones might see his snaps diminish if he stays on the roster in 2012.
Could that $3.4 million be better used on another player? That's the question general manager Gene Smith will have to ask himself this offseason.
If I had to hazard a guess, I would expect the Jaguars to keep Jones for one more season, but it's far from a slam dunk. He very well may find himself with a one-way ticket out of Jacksonville if Gene Smith feels giving that $3.4 million to another player would help the team more.
Defensive End Matt Roth
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Though he was only with the team for one season, Roth made quite the impression on Jaguars fans in 2011. He finished the season tied for second on the team with 3.5 sacks despite only playing in nine games.
According to Pro Football Focus, he was the seventh-best run-stopping 4-3 defensive end in the league in 2011. Why would the Jaguars let a player like Roth leave?
With Roth out of the lineup, Leger Douzable stepped into the starting left defensive end spot and proved that though Roth was a good player, he wasn't irreplaceable. Douzable finished 11th in run-stopping according to Pro Football Focus despite playing less snaps than Roth. Though he wasn't able to match Roth's sack total, he registered five quarterback hits to Roth's two.
Simply put: Both players performed at a similar level.
Though Roth will only be turning 30 this season, I expect the Jaguars to retain the younger, more versatile Douzable, who will only be 26 in 2012, rather than Roth.
Offensive Tackle Guy Whimper
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Filling in for injured starting right tackle Eben Britton, Whimper started the season playing at an adequate level, accumulating close to a neutral blocking grade from Pro Football Focus (-0.6) over the first four games. However, his performance steadily declined over the course of the season.
With Britton out for all but three games, two of which he started at guard, Whimper started almost every game at right tackle, and the results weren't pretty.
Whimper allowed one sack in Week 3, which in itself isn't a huge deal, but it was the start of a streak that saw him allow at least one sack in every week until the Week 14 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That's right...Whimper allowed at least one sack in 10 consecutive games.
Whimper finished the season with a decent run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, but his pass-blocking stats were abysmal. He allowed 14 sacks, more than any other tackle in the NFL, and he allowed a pressure, hit or sack on over 10 percent of his pass-blocking snaps.
With Britton expected to return to his starting right tackle spot in 2012 and youthful projects Cameron Bradfield and Kevin Haslam challenging for roster spots as well, it seems there isn't a place on the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars for Guy Whimper.
Defensive End Aaron Kampman
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Kampman's signing was somewhat of a surprise; prior to the 2010 offseason, fans expected Gene Smith to lay low and avoid high-priced free-agent signings. Given the prices other accomplished pass-rushers were going for, however, Kampman's four-year, $24 million contract was actually a bargain.
The reason Kampman was so cheap was because he was recovering from ACL surgery, but he made an exceptionally quick recovery and proceeded to rack up four sacks and 14 quarterback hits in only eight games.
Unfortunately for both Kampman and the Jaguars, however, he tore his other ACL in practice following the team's Week 8 blowout of the Dallas Cowboys.
Kampman spent the rest of the 2010 season and the entire 2011 offseason rehabbing his new knee injury, and hoped to be ready for 2011. This knee wasn't quite as quick to recover as the other one, though, and he missed the first five games of the season before finally making an appearance in Week 6.
After playing a total of 70 out of a possible 196 snaps in three games, Kampman suffered a setback. The Jaguars waited a month to see if Kampman would be able to recover, but to no avail.
They finally placed him on injured reserve in December.
Turning 33 in 2012 and coming off being placed on injured reserve for a third consecutive season, Kampman would be a long shot to make the roster anyway, but with a base salary of $4.975 million in 2012 and $6.475 million in 2013, his departure is all but certain.
Jaguars fans certainly appreciate the impact Kampman made in such limited playing time with the team, but his time in Jacksonville is almost certainly up.