Offseason Forecast: Jacksonville Jaguars


With the offseason officially underway, Around The NFL will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

What's changing?

With the offseason underway, Around The NFL explores what's next for all 32 teams.

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It's all about ensuring Blake Bortles' development. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch took the fall after Bortles followed a highly promising preseason with a disappointing rookie campaign. Enter former Raiders offensive boss Greg Olson, who fared better with Derek Carr's development last season. The Jaguars also imported former Bills coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to work with the offensive line and quarterbacks, respectively.

That trio will be charged with fixing Bortles' wonky mechanics and providing him with more time to throw behind an offensive line that was among the NFL's least effective in 2014. Bortles could have a new No. 1 receiver, as owner Shad Khan is "very optimistic" that Justin Blackmon will be reinstated from his indefinite suspension.

Biggest free agents

» WR Cecil Shorts: Suddenly on the Miles Austin career path, Shorts has the reputation of a run-after-catch playmaker no longer making plays due to a litany of soft-tissue injuries the past two years. With Blackmon potentially returning and a trio of promising second-year receivers on board, the Jaguars are expected to allow Shorts to walk.

» LB J.T. Thomas: A fourth linebacker and special teamer prior to 2014, Thomas started out at the "OTTO" position in Gus Bradley's defense and moved inside once Paul Posluszny was lost to a torn pectoral in October. The Jaguars would welcome him back for his versatility.

» DT Tyson Alualu: The No. 10 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft has never lived up to expectations. He played behind Red Bryant at left end last season, slipping inside on running downs. General manager David Caldwell has expressed interest in bringing Alualu back at the right price.

Other key free agents: Geno Hayes, Alan Ball, Sherrod Martin

On the way out?

» TE Marcedes Lewis: No longer a pass-catching threat, Lewis was kept on the roster last year because the Jaguars had cap space to spare. He ended up missing half of the season with an ankle sprain. His $8.4 million cap number is a luxury for a team that still has many roster holes to fill.

» LB Paul Posluszny: Symbolic of a try-hard defense lacking in playmakers, Posluszny is no longer the difference-maker he was earlier in his career. His $7.45 million is a lot to shell out for a declining linebacker who missed nine games with a pectoral injury in 2014.

» RB Toby Gerhart: Gerhart lasted one month as the starter before losing his job to offensive weapon Denard Robinson. With a non-guaranteed salary of $3 million, he's a candidate to be cut.

What they need

It would be easier to list what they don't need. The offensive line is solid at guard, but was overwhelmed at tackle and center. For the second straight year, the defense was noticeably lacking in bitch-kitty pass rushers. Bradley could also use an upgrade opposite Dwayne Gratz at cornerback and a pass-catching successor to Lewis at tight end.

Offseason crystal ball

After addressing the offensive skill positions in last year's draft, Caldwell will have to bring in impact playmakers on defense this offseason. The Jaguars should add a second-tier pass rusher such as Brandon Graham or Derrick Morgan while also making a run at cornerback Byron Maxwell, who came up under Bradley in Seattle. On the other side of the ball, Shorts is as good as gone, hopefully to be replaced by Blackmon. Since the free-agent offensive line class lacks depth, it might be a better idea to pick up a tackle and/or center in the first few rounds of the draft.

Since Caldwell and Bradley arrived in Jacksonville, we've been hearing this franchise will need three years to turn it around. The duo has shown they can deconstruct a roster. Now they have to prove capable of reconstructing it.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down the top 25 free agents and reacts to the latest news. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.