5 Available Free Agents Still Within Jacksonville Jaguars' Reach

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2014

5 Available Free Agents Still Within Jacksonville Jaguars' Reach

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    Chris O'Meara

    The Jacksonville Jaguars can still find value in free agency, even though at this point the market is mostly filled with low-cost, short-term veterans.

    But adding some experienced winners to a young, rebuilding team is no bad thing. With that in mind, general manager David Caldwell could look at a pair of veteran centers to compensate for losing out on Alex Mack.

    Head coach Gus Bradley might also be keen on bolstering the rotation at linebacker with a skilled pro on the outside. Bradley and Caldwell could also justify rolling the dice on a "move" tight end who would offer a greater receiving threat from the position.

    Here are the five free agents still on the market the Jags should consider.

Dan Koppen, C

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    Dan Koppen would bring some real savvy to the heart of the O-line.
    Dan Koppen would bring some real savvy to the heart of the O-line.Joe Mahoney

    The Cleveland Browns matching the offer made to Mack was a blow to a team desperate to reinforce its O-line. With a premier player at his position off the market, the Jags should consider a savvy old pro like Dan Koppen.

    The ex-Denver Bronco and New England Patriot has been part of a winning culture since entering the NFL in 2003. That would have a positive impact on the locker room in Jacksonville, where the franchise has been mired in losing for too long.

    Koppen could reunite with former Broncos teammate Zane Beadles. The new Jags left guard and Koppen were key members of the group that protected Peyton Manning in 2012.

    Koppen missed last season after tearing his ACL in training camp. But even at 34, he is still more than capable of holding down the fort up front for a season.

James Anderson, OLB

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    James Anderson has the pass-rush skills the Jaguars need at linebacker.
    James Anderson has the pass-rush skills the Jaguars need at linebacker.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    James Anderson is a capable and versatile linebacker who would improve Bradley's options at the position. The head coach would make particularly good use of Anderson's underrated blitz skills.

    He had four sacks for the Chicago Bears in 2013. The 30-year-old is adept at rushing off the edge from a base defense or blitzing through the middle out of a nickel front.

    The Jacksonville defense is still thin at linebacker, even after Bradley added ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer Dekoda Watson. Depth is an obvious issue, with unconvincing types such as J.T. Thomas and John Lotulelei on the roster.

    Anderson is still starting calibre, but at the very least he would provide strong competition for Watson and Geno Hayes.

Wade Smith, G

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    Wade Smith is skilled in a zone-based scheme.
    Wade Smith is skilled in a zone-based scheme.STEPHEN MORTON

    If they're smart, the Jaguars haven't finished retooling an O-line that surrendered 50 sacks and let running backs average a measly 78.8 yards per game, per figures from Florida Times-Union reporter Gene Frenette.

    One player who could help and the Jags know well is former Houston Texans starter Wade Smith. The 32-year-old is an accomplished blocker in a zone system.

    Even after 12 pro seasons, the 6'4", 295-pounder can still move well in space and quickly absorb defenders at the second level. Smith's proficiency as a run-blocker would go a long way to fixing last season's 31st-ranked ground attack.

    The Jags have the space to welcome Smith since they released Uche Nwaneri. The interior was also the weakest part of 2013's front five, but so far Beadles is the lone reinforcement.

Jonathan Goodwin, C

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    Ageing center Jonathan Goodwin is still a powerful force in the middle.
    Ageing center Jonathan Goodwin is still a powerful force in the middle.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The Jags need a new center and ageing behemoth Jonathan Goodwin needs a new team. The 35-year-old is still a force anchoring an O-line.

    Goodwin is a powerful run-blocker on the inside, something that would suit bruising new lead-back Toby Gerhart. The Jaguars couldn't push anyone around in the trenches last term, but with Goodwin in the middle that would surely change.

    Goodwin still has an interest in postponing retirement, per ESPN.com reporter Bill WilliamsonWhile his shelf life is obviously limited at this point, that may suit the Jaguars, given their mooted plans at the position.

    ESPN.com columnist Michael DiRocco has suggested the team could turn to a player already on the roster, but will certainly draft a center:

    Both Caldwell and Gus Bradley said they have confidence that Mike Brewster can step in for Brad Meester, but not landing Mack means the Jaguars will take a center at some point in the draft. Most likely in the middle rounds. Keep an eye on Travis Swanson, whom the coaching staff worked with during the Senior Bowl, as a possibility.

    Like Koppen, Goodwin would be a great safety net if Brewster can't make the grade or while the team waits for a rookie to learn the ropes.

Jermichael Finley, TE

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    When healthy and motivated, Jermichael Finley is a dangerous weapon.
    When healthy and motivated, Jermichael Finley is a dangerous weapon.USA TODAY Sports

    One of the riskier players on the market, Jermichael Finley is still a talented enough playmaker to appeal to the Jags. He would answer their need for a more active, Joker-style tight end.

    Of course, that would depend on his health and availability for the coming season. The 27-year-old needs positive results from an MRI examining his neck, post spinal fusion surgery, according to ESPN reporter Josina Anderson.

    When he's healthy, Finely is a troubling mismatch for most defenses. The 6'5", 247-pounder is basically a big-bodied wide receiver who can attack from multiple positions.

    There have been signs that the Jags are seeking a more dynamic "move" tight end for coordinator Jedd Fisch's offense. They retained Clay Harbor and also made an offer to Ed Dickson.

    At his best, Finley is a superior player to both. That's why the Jags would face competition for his services. Miami Herald writer Barry Jackson suggests the Miami Dolphins are keen.

    Meanwhile, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport previously reported the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks also have interest.

    But it's the Jaguars who have arguably the greater need for Finley's talents.

    If they are selective and do their research, the Jags can find a few smart veterans who could make a big impact in 2014.