Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agency: Why Re-Signing Rashean Mathis Was a Good Move

David Levin@@davidlevin71Senior Writer IIMarch 8, 2012

Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agency: Why Re-Signing Rashean Mathis Was a Good Move

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    The man who grew up in Jacksonville with dreams of one day playing in the NFL has a chance continue that dream with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    The Florida Times-Union reported that Rashean Mathis, a 2003 second-round draft choice, signed a one-year deal with the team on Wednesday. The terms of the contract are said to be incentive-based.

    Mathis has been a Pro Bowler in the past for the Jaguars and is the team's all-time leader in interceptions with 30. He was playing on a consistent level this past season before going down with a torn ACL in a game against Indianapolis—a game the Jaguars won 17-3.

    Mathis was one of several players on the path to free agency for a team that finished 5-11 last season.

    Earlier in the week, kicker Josh Scobee was offered a franchise tag of approximately $2.6 million for next season. Scobee has not signed the offer yet and will negotiate with the team until free agency begins March 13, which is when he can negotiate with any team.

    The Jaguars also must work to re-sign defensive stars Jeremy Mincey, Matt Roth and Dwight Lowery. Each was instrumental in the team ranking sixth in overall defense last season.

    Here are some reasons why Mathis' signing is a good thing for the Jaguars.

Hopefully Other Free Agents Will Follow

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    These things have a way of happening.

    The Jaguars are about $38 million under the salary cap and have five key free agents to re-sign before they look to the free-agent pool.

    Mathis is re-signed, and if Scobee signs his tender, it may convince Dwight Lowery and Jeremy Mincey to follow suit.

    Teams who are committed to winning have a tradition of keeping their players together.

Mathis Has a Great Presence in the Locker Room

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    Mathis is an unquestioned leader both on and off the field.

    That speaks volumes.

    He organized meetings with new players who were signed as free agents last year and provided leadership for the younger players.

    That is invaluable to a team.

    While Mathis has seen many players come and go in the secondary and on the defensive side of the ball, he has remained a constant in the organization.

He Is the Team's All-Time Leader in Interceptions

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    Mathis' 30 interceptions represent the best output of any defensive back in the franchise's history. He had one interception and four pass defenses in nine games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

    Prior to his injury, Mathis was playing a better brand of football than he had played the past two years, looking more like the 2006 Pro Bowl player rather than an ordinary defensive back.

The Team May Lose Other Key Secondary Free Agents

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    If Jacksonville loses Dwight Lowery in free agency, it will be a huge blow to the team. In his only year with the team, he provided solid coverage skills.

    The Jaguars have several defensive backs who are free agents, including Courtney Greene and William Middleton.

    Mathis' signing means it's one less contract the team has to deal with.

Mathis Should Be Able to Retire with the Jaguars

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    It sounds odd, but this reason makes the most sense.

    In an era where players are looking to cash in, Mathis has always wanted to be a Jaguar no matter the cost.

    He is a hometown favorite and a key member of the community. His loss would not just be a loss to the team but also to the city that has seen him play since his high school days at Englewood High.

    (On a personal note, the first sports story I ever covered out of college was an Englewood High football game. Mathis caught two touchdowns that night.)