Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will Jaguars Be Big Spenders? Free Agent History Painful; More Emphasis on Draft

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will Jaguars Be Big Spenders? Free Agent History Painful; More Emphasis on Draft

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL C. WRIGHT

Two years ago, the Jaguars made a lot of noise in free agency, signing high-priced veterans Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence. Both were released the following year, leaving the club $23 million lighter with nothing to show for it.

The Jaguars are not interested in repeating those mistakes. They demonstrated as much last offseason with a frugal set of unrestricted free-agent acquisitions: veterans Sean Considine and Tra Thomas. Considine, a safety, played in 11 games last season and started six. Thomas, an offensive tackle, started only three games and was released earlier this month.

"Our philosophy is to build our roster primarily through the college draft and use pro free agency to supplement that process," Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said.

Fans find out whether the club holds to its stated philosophy when the NFL free agency period begins on Friday. Smith isn't revealing specifics about how the club plans to proceed.

A big-name acquisition isn't totally out of the question. Sources have indicated the Jags could pull the trigger on such a move provided it makes sense financially and upgrades the current roster. But Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio dismissed that notion, saying the team plans to use free agency merely as a means to supplement the team's young talent.

"We've identified young guys we added offensively that we can take and develop,'' Del Rio said. "Most of this offseason will be spend strengthening defense. We really need to at all levels."

Diving into free agency hasn't panned out for the Jaguars this decade, with Hugh Douglas (2003), Tony Pashos (2007), Porter and Florence the most notable flops. Some positive exceptions include Mike Peterson (2003), Deon Grant (2004) and Brian Williams (2006), though all three are no longer on the Jags' roster.

Of the 29 unrestricted free agents the club has signed since 2003, only Reggie Hayward and Considine remain.

During the same period, the Jags let 33 of their own unrestricted free agents walk. …

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