Posted by Will Brinson
The Jacksonville Jaguars are an interesting team to watch as we emerge from the lockout cocoon and head (hopefully) to the 2011 season. They've got a rookie quarterback who might or might not play and a head coach who might or might not be on the hot seat.
In other words, the future, and measuring short- versus long-term goals is kind of up the air. So it'll be interesting to see how they handle free agency. According GM Gene Smith, getting their "own players" will take precedent. “Our own players will always be our first priority,” Smith said, per Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. “I’ve said this before that it is our objective to get a long-term deal done with Marcedes.”
Obviously, Smith's referring to tight end Marcedes Lewis, who was franchise tagged near the end of February. Less obvious is how the situation with Lewis will play out -- there's been some chatter that Lewis will hold out, based on his decision to remain in Los Angeles "until [his] deal is done."
He's also commented that he just wants "to be treated fair."
“All I can do is be optimistic about it,” Lewis told Ganguli in a recent phone interview. “I think both sides have an idea of where we want to go. I’m just going to continue to handle my side and let them take care of that. I’m hoping we can get it done and get me in camp.”
Lewis' situation is fascinating because the Jaguars have already gotten rid of one-time breakout wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker and are left with Mike Thomas shoring up their No. 1 receiver spot.
Making Lewis happy and getting him into camp on time is something that appears absolutely essential for Smith if he wants to ensure that the Jaguars have enough offensive potency to keep with the rest of the AFC South, especially if they're not planning on trolling for free agents between now and the start of the season.
After all, if David Garrard doesn't have any weapons, the Jags might struggle early and Blaine Gabbert might find himself under center sooner than anyone expects. Not having a safety net at tight end for their rookie is probably something the Jacksonville front office would like to avoid.
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