Justin Blackmon Leads the List of AFC South Unsigned Picks

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistJuly 25, 2012

May 4, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight ends Coby Fleener (80) and Dwayne Allen (83) run during minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Just a few short months ago, the AFC South drafted 31 new players. Now, as training camps open, 27 of those players, including all the Texans', have been signed.

Still, there are four players still waiting to ink their first deal.


Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: First Round, fifth pick

Why he's still unsigned: The negotiations with Blackmon are complicated by his recent run-in with the law. The Jaguars may be seeking offset language that would protect the club if Blackmon were released before his contract is up.

Additionally, the Jaguars prefer to defer bonus payments to early-round picks.

Together, the dual issues create an impasse. Frankly, I think it was a mistake not to sign him a month ago.

When he's due in: Thursday, July 26

Why it matters if he's late: The Jaguars need Blackmon in camp and getting reps with Blaine Gabbert. Any hope they have for 2012 centers around him, so the team can't afford to delay too much. 

From Blackmon's perspective, any hope he has of putting his arrest behind him and turning the story toward the future dims with a difficult hold out.

The Jaguars are still unclear if Maurice Jones-Drew will arrive in camp on time, and they simply can't get along without their principal weapons on offense.


Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans

Pick: First Round, 20th pick

Why he's still unsigned: There's not much logic to this one. Both the player taken before and after Wright have signed, so there's not much wiggle-room on how much Wright should make.

John Glennon of The Tennessean suggests the only hold-up might be over whether his fourth year is fully guaranteed. Such a move would be unusual for a player taken as late as Wright, but he may have the team over a barrel.

When he was due in: Tuesday, July 24

Why it matters that he's late: While Wright won't miss any work with the team until Saturday, the Titans need him to be fully versed in the offense, and he's missing valuable coaching time. With the issues surrounding Kenny Britt in the last week, Wright may be thrust into a Week 1 starting role.

The fact is that the Titans are in trouble here. They have to get Wright signed and quickly. They may have to cave on the fourth year.


Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, TEs, Indianapolis Colts

Pick: Second Round, second pick and Third Round, first pick

Why they are still unsigned: It's a mystery. All the players around Fleener are in the fold, and Trumaine Johnson of St. Louis, who was taken after Allen, signed last night. These deals should be easy to hammer out considering the slots are already set.

Any guess as to the hold-up is pure speculation. It's curious that both men play the same position, and were closely grouped in pre-draft rankings. It's at least conceivable that their hold-ups are connected as the team tries to negotiate fair deals for comparable players taken a full round apart.

When they are due in: Wednesday, July 25

Why it matters if they are late: The Colts' offense is going to revolve heavily around these two men. Real drills don't start until the weekend in Anderson, IN, but the Colts need to squeeze every ounce of time possible out of these two tight ends.

Though a protracted hold-out seems unlikely for either player, any delay would affect Allen even more than Fleener. The former Stanford tight end has the advantage of having played with Luck for years, whereas Allen will be looking to develop that rapport for the first time.


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