To say the Jacksonville Jaguars have had an interesting offseason is certainly an understatement. Arrests, injuries and holdouts have headlined what the team had hoped would be a fresh start in 2012, but the negatives continues to mount.
And with the start of training camp only two weeks away, the need to sign veteran kicker Josh Scobee to a long-term deal and somehow get Maurice Jones-Drew to camp on time have become paramount.
Now add in the fact that the team’s first round selection and current “bad boy” Justin Blackmon and it’s “weapon” in punter Bryan Anger are still unsigned, and you see the team faces another uphill battle even before the first scrimmage is held at EverBank Field.
And we all thought this would be an easy offseason for the team.
They are not the New Orleans Saints, but there is enough fodder to keep us media types busy during the down time.
Add to the mix the recent dispute with the city over possible default on the team’s behalf and you have a great recipe for reality television in north Florida.
This week, it was announced that the team had begun to re-negotiate with Scobee, who connected on 23 of 25 field goals last season and was arguably the second most important player on the team next to Jones-Drew. For his efforts, the team franchised Scobee, which would pay him $2.88 million this season, according to 1010XL Sports Talk Radio in Jacksonville.
Not chump change, but Scobee and his agent Ken Harris are looking for a long term contract to stay in Florida.
NFL.com is reporting that the two sides have begun renegotiating on a deal, but nothing has been finalized.
Can you tell me any other team who is dealing with having both their kicker and punter holding out for more money? Anger, a third round surprise out of California in this year’s draft, remains unsigned. The team shocked the NFL draft world when Anger’s name was called on the second day of the selection pool, and the “starter” is expected to help the team and special teams with field position.
Blackmon, who will appear later this month in an Oklahoma courtroom on DUI charges where his blood alcohol level reached .24, according to a report from ESPN.com. As the fifth overall selection in the draft, Blackmon, along with free agent signees, Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans, are expected to help quarterback Blaine Gabbert find his way through the crowds of defenders who terrorized him last year.
And after you sift through all these issues and catch your breath, the team must focus on Jones-Drew, who appears set to holdout as long as needed to get more money after leading the NFL in rushing last season.
Did I mention the Jaguars are $25 million under the salary cap right now? Both Scobee and Jones-Drew know it and while Scobee has more leverage than the team’s most important player, it would be assumed that team officials do not want this to become another Chris Johnson situation like in Tennessee where the star runner held out and was atrocious last year and could not find a rhythm. The Jaguars can ill-afford that to happen.
I am of the opinion the rookies will sign contracts and get into camp soon. They cannot hold out long and be an integral part of this team. Scobee is now in talks with the team, hopefully deciding on what best suits the kicker. Scobee is money for this team and should be paid like it. Maybe not money like Sebastian Janikowski, but Scobee is among the top five kickers in the league. He is too good to let walk after this coming season.
There is no doubt Jones-Drew will proclaim he can top Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record and pose in ESPN the Magazine. None of that gets him back to Jacksonville any quicker. While Jones-Drew also stated in the Times-Union article that he wants to keep this a business matter and not rehash it in the media, he has already done so.
At some point, the two sides will have to talk and see what they can work through. Otherwise, this could be the start of a long season for a team still on the ropes from last year,
That is not a good place to be when you need to show improvement from the start of the season.
And we haven’t even gotten to training camp.