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Missing Pieces the Jacksonville Jaguars Could Still Land

Jon ShumakeContributor IIIMay 8, 2013

Missing Pieces the Jacksonville Jaguars Could Still Land

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    First-year general manager David Caldwell inherited a Jacksonville Jaguars roster that was full of holes when he was hired in January.

    Jacksonville's biggest needs this offseason were in the secondary, quarterback and along the offensive and defensive lines.

    Caldwell put together a great draft and a nice undrafted free-agent class that filled a lot of those holes. The team's first three picks—tackle Luke Joeckel, safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Dwayne Gratz—are all expected to be immediate starters, while the rest of the draft class could contribute.

    Still, there were too many holes to fill in just one offseason. Quarterback, among other positions, is still a concern, but the Jaguars will probably see how third-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert plays this year before making any long-term decisions.

    Most of the free agents available now are over-the-hill players looking for one more chance. Jacksonville is going with a youth movement which eliminates a lot of the available players. The aging free agents could still be signed as depth to backup young talent.

    Finding players who would fill needs will be difficult at this point in the offseason but it's not impossible. Here are five players the Jaguars could sign who could provide a missing piece to the puzzle.

Pass-Rusher: Dwight Freeney

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    Jacksonville's pass rush was pathetic last season and the team recorded a league-low 20 sacks.

    GM Caldwell didn't do much to address this issue and the unit remains largely unchanged heading into the 2013 season.

    While new head coach Gus Bradley's scheme should give players like Jason Babin and Andre Branch an opportunity to make plays, it's hard to have confidence in a group that struggled so much.

    Dwight Freeney is still available and could be a player who could add a spark to Jacksonville's pass rush.

    He isn't the player he once was and registered the second-fewest sacks in his career (five). He would've still led the Jaguars last season as the next closest sack total would have been Tyson Alualu's 3.5.

    Freeney isn't much more than a third-down pass-rusher but his speed would make him a nice candidate for a rotational player in the LEO role.

    His asking price has dropped several times in the past few months (per Chris Wessiling of NFL.com), which should make him an affordable option.

    Although the Jaguars haven't shown any interest in Freeney, it would be worth signing him at a reasonable price to compete for time as a rotational pass-rusher. He is still better at getting to the quarterback than anyone else on the roster.

Guard: Brandon Moore

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    The Jaguars offensive line was terrible last year. Much of the blame could be placed on the right tackle play. The team upgraded the position with first-round pick Luke Joeckel.

    Although right tackle was the main issue, left guard could also be improved.

    Will Rackley was slated to be the starter entering his second season last year, but suffered a season-ending injury in training camp. The Jaguars featured a number of players in his absence, including Mike Brewster, Eben Britton and Austin Pasztor. 

    Brewster was a decent player during his time but ended the season on the IR. Britton and Pasztor struggled to make an impression at the position.

    With Britton signing with the Chicago Bears in free agency, Jacksonville is left with a largely unproven group of left guards.

    Brandon Moore would provide the experience and consistent play the team is missing at the position. He has started 142 of 144 career games and every game since Week 9 of the 2004 season.

    Moore is a Pro Bowl-caliber player and has allowed just 5.5 sacks over the past five seasons. He would shore up the offensive line's pass-protection.

    He will be 33 entering the season and won't come with a low price tag. Regardless, Moore would be a very good stopgap who would provide high-quality play for a season or two until the Jaguars find a long-term solution at the position.

Outside Linebacker: Daryl Smith

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    Jacksonville already addressed the position by signing Geno Hayes in free agency but the team is making a mistake by not re-signing Daryl Smith.

    Sure, at age 31, he's getting old and won't be in the long-term plans for the team. And yes, he did miss 14 games last year due to a groin injury. But Smith played at a high level for a long time and missed just four games through his first eight years in the league.

    He is a sure-tackler and leads the franchise with 679 career combined tackles. He often made plays in the opponent's backfield and has 41 career stuffs. Smith has been one of the most underrated players in the league for years, which could be hurting his free-agent offers.

    The Jaguars need to make him an offer. He is still a productive player whose presence would improve the defense as a whole. He will still provide a few years of solid play until Jacksonville can find another player at the position.

Backup Tight End: Dante Rosario

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    Although Marcedes Lewis is firmly entrenched as Jacksonville's starting tight end, there is no reliable depth behind him.

    The three tight ends under contract behind Lewis—Allen Reisner, Brett Brackett and Matt Veldman—have a combined two receptions for 18 yards in their careers.

    Jacksonville added two undrafted free-agent tight ends in Ryan Otten and Kyler Reed. At least one of them has a great shot at making the team. The Jaguars still need to add an experienced backup for Lewis who has been productive in the NFL.

    Dante Rosario fits that bill. He will be entering his eighth season in the league and has started 27 games. He's caught 99 passes for just over 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns.While his stats won't light the world on fire, Rosario has proven to be reliable, which is something Jacksonville needs behind Lewis.

    The Jaguars need a safety net in case something happens to Lewis and the other tight ends aren't ready. Rosario would provide just that.

Middle Linebacker: Omar Gaither

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    Jacksonville's linebacker corps is among the thinnest units on the roster.

    Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, outside linebacker Russell Allen and Geno Hayes are the only players with much experience.

    Second-year player Julian Stanford played infrequently last season and should be kept as depth. The rest of the linebackers are undrafted free agents who are hoping to make the team.

    The Jaguars need to add another veteran to the mix to add quality depth to the position. Omar Gaither is an experienced middle linebacker who has had a productive career. He's started 44 games during his seven seasons in the league. He has also recorded 334 combined tackles, six sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles during his career.

    The Jaguars are going for a youth movement but the team still needs veterans who can add a security blanket in case the young players don't develop. Gaither would provide that security blanker and would add depth to a linebacker corps that desperately needs it.

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