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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Blake Bortles has spent the past two months working on his mechanics with his throwing coaches at 3DQB in California, not worrying about whether the Jacksonville Jaguars want him around in 2018.

That doesn’t mean Bortles is ignoring the fact that the 2017 season is make-or-break for him in Jacksonville. He said he’s just not worrying about it.


“It’s huge,” Bortles said Sunday before his second annual Blake Bortles Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at The King & Bear at the World Golf Village. “It’s as big as however you want it to be, but regardless we’ve got to be here on April 10th [for offseason conditioning] and we’ve got to show up for camp in August and eventually they’re going to start playing football games, so I think all that’s stuff’s irrelevant.

“I’m confident with what I’ve done this offseason and that I’ll be able to come help this team be as good as we possibly can be. Everything involving the contract, that’s up to them. I look forward to playing football.”

The Jaguars have until May 3 to decide if they will pick up Bortles’ fifth-year option. If they do, his 2018 salary would be the average of the top 10 highest-paid quarterbacks: approximately $20.7 million. It is guaranteed for injury only until the first day of the 2018 league year, when it becomes fully guaranteed.

General manager Dave Caldwell said the team still has work to do in evaluating Bortles before making that kind of commitment.
Blake Bortles says he has been working on tightening his release to make it as quick as possible. Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports
“Well I think just like with everything we’ve done from the end of the season until now, we get a lot of input from our coaches, we’ve got OTAs, we’ve got minicamps, we’ve got a lot of things between now and then to see where he is at, but I don’t think any decision will be made until closer to May,” Caldwell said.

The problem for the Jaguars is that deadline hits before they can know if Bortles is any better than he was in 2016, when he completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 3,905 yards and 23 touchdowns with 16 interceptions. He threw 15 interceptions — including three returned for touchdowns to give him 11 pick-sixes in his career — in the first 12 games but threw only one in the last four. Bortles also suffered a Grade 1 sprained right AC joint, aggravated that five weeks later, and also dealt with painful tendinitis in his right wrist.

His mechanics were a mess, too. His footwork got sloppy and his delivery was out of whack. He brought the ball below his waist and way behind his body during his windup, which increased the amount of time between his decision to throw and his release. Bortles looked nothing like he did in 2015, when he set single-season franchise records for passing yards (4,428) and passing touchdowns (35).

That’s why he headed to California as soon as the 2016 season ended to work with Adam Dedeaux.

“The first thing we focused on was probably what everybody would guess, just trying to tighten up the release, make that as quick as possible,” Bortles said. “So never letting really the wrist get below the elbow, trying to keep that parallel and not dropping down. So that was probably the main focus and then just a couple tweaks here and there in different things.

“It didn’t take a long time to fix it, but the first week it wasn’t pretty. It didn’t look good and that’s a part of it. When you’re trying to change things it’s not going to be great but we were able to kind of hash that out and now it’s going well.”

3DQB tweeted out a quick video of Bortles throwing a pass, and his delivery looks significantly more compact. He’s holding the ball just below his chin during his dropback, and it doesn’t get any lower than his elbow on his windup.


— 3DQB (@train3DQB) March 11, 2017
Bortles said his delivery is “more efficient, quicker,” but will that stick during practices and especially games?

“That’s the true test of, ‘Did it stick?’” Bortles said. “There’s only one way to figure that out and that’s go and play.”

He’s taking a quick break to raise funds for the Arc Village of Jacksonville — an independent-living neighborhood for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities — and first responders of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department. According to Bonnie Upright, the foundation’s executive director, the golf tournament, charity auction, and concert have raised approximately $100,000 this year.

After that, though, he’s headed to Arizona next week to throw with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns (he’s been throwing with Marqise Lee in California). This is a different plan from last offseason, when he spent only six days in California and spent most of his time in Jacksonville throwing with Jaguars receivers.

“I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent out there [in California],” Bortles said. “I think it’s really been beneficial. I feel really good as far as where I’m at mechanically and how the ball’s coming out and how it’s spinning.”

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Just because the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted receiver Dede Westbrook doesn’t mean they’re giving up on Rashad Greene.

Though both are slot receivers and punt returners, GM Dave Caldwell said that doesn’t mean both can’t make the roster and contribute on offense and special teams in 2017.
Rashad Greene will be looking to bounce back from an Achilles injury that stifled his progress last season. Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports
“I still have high hopes for [Greene],” Caldwell said. “They will play similar type of positions, but we have room to keep both of those guys.”

The Jaguars selected Westbrook in the fourth round of the draft last Saturday because he was too talented to bypass. Westbrook was one of the best receivers in the nation last year at Oklahoma but slipped to the fourth round because of off-field concerns: Two arrests for domestic violence (charges were dropped both times, though the second because the victim was unable to be located) and an arrest for trespassing last May.

The Jaguars have told him he has no margin for error in terms of off-field behavior. If he avoids issues there, the Jaguars envision using him as a slot receiver and as a punt returner — basically the role Greene was supposed to fill after a solid rookie season.

The Jaguars drafted Greene in the fifth round in 2015 and immediately made him their punt returner. He missed seven games with a hand injury but averaged 16.7 yards on 18 returns and took one back for a touchdown. Had Greene had enough returns to qualify to appear in the NFL rankings, he would have led the league by more than 4 yards per return.

He also turned two games around for the Jaguars with big punt returns. His 63-yarder in the fourth quarter set up the Jaguars’ go-ahead touchdown one play later in their 19-13 victory over Tennessee in November. Three weeks later, Greene returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown to break open a close game against Indianapolis.

Greene was supposed to compete with Marqise Lee in OTAs, minicamp and training camp last offseason to be the Jaguars’ third receiver behind Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in 2016, but Lee was so impressive from the start that Greene didn’t have much of a chance. He didn’t make an impact as a punt returner, either.

Greene averaged just 6.3 yards per punt return and caught just five passes for 32 yards before this season. He also muffed three punts. Greene battled an Achilles injury for several weeks and missed three games and was eventually placed on injured reserve on Dec. 3.

“I think that [the Achilles injury] really set him back,” Caldwell said. “I don’t think he ever caught his stride. With a player sometimes you have those issues and you have that adversity, and I think he learned how to deal with that. He has had a great offseason. I saw him in the hallway the other day. He is getting a lot of muscle mass. He has really worked hard in correcting those biomechanical issues that he has had that causes injuries.”

After setting the Florida State record for career receptions (270) and career receiving yards (3,830) from 2011-14, Greene has just 24 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns and has averaged 11.0 yards on 39 punt returns.
The Jaguars didn’t go into the draft expecting to take Westbrook, but when he was available when they were making their fourth-round selection they couldn’t pass him up. Westbrook caught 126 passes for 2,267 yards (18 yards per catch) and 21 touchdowns in two seasons at Oklahoma. He won the Biletnikoff Award in 2016, which goes to the country’s top receiver, and was one of five Heisman Trophy finalists last season.

Westbrook returned only five punts in his college career, but he averaged 16.2 yards per return and took one back for a touchdown.

“He is a dynamic athlete [with good] speed and with the ball in his hands,” Caldwell said.

However, there’s still room for Westbrook and Greene to make the final roster.

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JACKSONVILLE – This is still new for A.J. Bouye. Really new.
But Bouye knows this much already about his new team, new surroundings, new town: There’s a lot of potential and a lot of opportunity.

His task now? To do the work necessary to turn those things into results.

“I’m definitely excited,” said Bouye, who arrived in Jacksonville Thursday to prepare for the official beginning of the team’s offseason program on April 17. “I’ve been grinding hard and I know a lot of players have, too, because we know what we can do here. …

“The people here, the players here … I’ve watched the way they play. These guys are hungry, and when you’re around a lot of guys who are hungry, it’s going to make you compete.”

Bouye, a cornerback who signed with the Jaguars early last month as an unrestricted free agent from the Houston Texans, joined senior writer John Oehser on O-Zone Live on Facebook Thursday. Among the topics covered: his chance to play opposite Jalen Ramsey, as well as just how much potential there is around the Jaguars moving forward.

That’s something Bouye said he saw up close in recent seasons.

“Playing against the Jaguars two times a year since I’ve been in [the NFL], we’ve always seen how athletic this team is and what they’re capable of,” Bouye said early Thursday afternoon.

Bouye (6-feet-0, 192 pounds), who originally signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent from the University of Central Florida following the 2013 NFL Draft, started 19 games for the Texans in four seasons. He became a full-time starter last season, starting 11 games and registering 16 passes defensed and a sack.

He entered the offseason as one of the NFL’s top available unrestricted free agents, and his signing along with the presence of Ramsey at one corner and Aaron Colvin at nickel potentially gives the Jaguars one of the NFL’s best young trios at the position.

“To have us three out there, it’s going to be fun,” Bouye said, adding of he and Ramsey. “It’s very exciting. We’re both going to be competing, because we’re both going to want to play better than each other. At the end of the day, we’re all competing to get better. There’s no telling what’s going to happen.”

Ramsey as a rookie last season often shadowed the opponents’ No. 1 receiver much of the game. Bouye was asked about which player would do the shadowing next season.

“Hopefully, we’ll just go left and right, because at the end of the day, he’ll want to follow and I’ll want to follow,” Bouye said. “Whatever the coaches ask, I’ll understand that because we’re just trying to win and make plays.”

Also Thursday:

*Bouye, as he did during his introductory press conference at EverBank last month, said he looks forward to playing against his former team – the Texans – twice a season. “I’m excited to go against them twice a year. I know those guys, so competing against those guys twice a year is going to be fun. … Everybody’s always going to have their opinions about me. I really don’t care about it. I always try to play with a chip on my shoulder, and I’m looking forward to it – going against those guys. I want to make plays on them. I’m thinking they’re going to try to make plays on me. I’m excited for every game, to tell you the truth, but I came from there.”

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JACKSONVILLE – Dante Fowler Jr. was impressive on a lot of fronts Thursday.

But during an appearance on O-Zone Live, the Jaguars’ third-year defensive end perhaps was most impressive discussing what at times was a difficult 2016 season.

“I wanted to live up to the pressure, but it’s so hard,” Fowler said. “You want to be aggressive, and I was really trying to figure myself out. It was hard last year dealing with some of the things I was going through.”

Fowler, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, talked about many issues during the 15-minute interview, and he said he has worked extensively this offseason on pass-rush technique – an area he knows he must improve to increase his four-sack total from his first NFL season.

Fowler also discussed his difficulty controlling emotions, which he said stemmed from wanting to prove himself after missing his rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“I’m more prepared [entering the offseason program] than what I was last year,” Fowler said. “Last year, I was just an angry guy. I had so much stuff boiling in me because I was never hurt [before 2015). I always played with my heart on my sleeve. I was thinking about showing everybody this ACL thing was nothing and I just wanted to take everybody’s head off. That’s really what I was doing when I was getting those personal fouls.”


Fowler, who committed eight penalties last season – including two for unnecessary roughness and one for unsportsmanlike conduct – said he understands “you can’t be selfish like that.”

“It’s not about me,” Fowler said. “It’s about the other [teammates]. They’re just as good as you: just be humble and never take anything for granted. I’m not going to take it for granted. I’m going to be ready for work.”

Fowler said overall he believes he progressed last season, “especially toward the end of the season.”

“I could see myself and I’d say, ‘Damn, if I had just done that from the beginning I’d be sitting on 10 sacks right now,’’’ Fowler said. “But that’s the NFL, and it was my first year. You have to learn. I’m playing against the best offensive lineman in the world.

“I used to get so mad at myself and [defensive coordinator Todd] Wash would be like, ‘They’ve got some great guys, too.’ I didn’t want it to be like that. I wanted to be able to overmatch everybody. I want my opponents to know what time it is when they’re playing with me. So, it’s just coming in [to this season] with a different mindset, not playing games. I’m very excited about this year.”

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the week that was for the Jaguars at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine while looking ahead to Thursday’s start of free agency



We’ll wrap up the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine later in this post, but first we look ahead.

An NFL look ahead in early March means previewing free agency, which officially starts Thursday at 4 p.m. – the official start of the 2017 NFL league year.

And yes, that could be a busy time for the Jaguars.

The busy-ness likely could begin with the trade for Miami Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert becoming official, which can happen when the new league year begins. And while that move may feel like old news because it reportedly has been agreed upon for a while, it’s a huge part of the Jaguars’ ongoing roster reshaping.

What’s next?

Hints and rumors likely will begin Tuesday afternoon because noon Tuesday is when teams can begin negotiating with agents for players from other teams. Before then, teams had exclusive negotiating rights with their own players scheduled to become free in 2017.

As for the hints and rumors …

You’ll hear them on Twitter and elsewhere, but not on this website. League rules regarding the pre-free-agency negotiating period preclude teams from officially signing deals or announcing that deals have been reached. That means news won’t be here until it’s official, which means sometime after Thursday at 3:59.59.

What will happen then? That remains to be seen.

“We have to be disciplined,” Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said at the combine in Indianapolis last week. “We’re going to set a limit for our guys that we’re going to target. We’re going to be aggressive for the guys we want. We can’t be careless with the money.”

Monday’s release of Davon House and the team’s decision to allow Prince Amukamara to test free agency makes cornerback a possible target in the first-wave of free agency. The top free-agent corner is widely believed to be A.J. Bouye of Houston, with Stephon Gilmore of Buffalo, Logan Ryan of New England, Morris Claiborne of Dallas and Dre Kirkpatrick of Cincinnati also expected to hit the market.

The Jaguars also appear to have a need on the interior offensive line. The team likes center Brandon Linder and right guard A.J. Cann, though Caldwell said last week moving Cann to the other guard remains a possibility, as is moving Linder back to the guard position he played in 2014 and 2015. The guess here is Linder stays at center, with the team possibly – but not definitely – being active in what will be a pricey free-agent guard market that includes Kevin Zeitler of Cincinnati, T.J. Lang of Green Bay and Larry Warford of Detroit.

Caldwell said early last week that 2017 free agency looked like a market with a quality player or two at each position, then a drop-off after that. Two other positions where the top player could make sense: safety and defensive end.

Jaguars strong safety Johnathan Cyprien, like Amukamara, is testing the market – and free agents who test the market sign elsewhere more often than not. Arizona safety Tony Washington is considered the top strong safety on the market, but the market could – as could be the case with Cyprien – get prohibitively pricey in a hurry.

Another position to watch: defensive end/tackle, where Jared Odrick was released by the Jaguars last week and where veteran Tyson Alualu also appears likely to test free agency. Arizona defensive end/tackle Calais Campbell is considered by some the top free agent regardless of position. He likely will command a contract on a similarly staggering scale to the one Malik Jackson signed with the Jaguars last offseason, but his impact on a new team could be similar to the one Jackson had in 2016 as well.

Stay tuned.



Thoughts from the NFL 2017 Scouting Combine …

*A major combine takeaway is Blake Bortles seems a clear favorite to start at quarterback for the Jaguars next season. None of the decision-makers – Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, Head Coach Doug Marrone or Caldwell – has indicated anything to the contrary, and the theme when the trio has spoken in recent weeks has been about improving around Bortles. Could something happen in the coming weeks? Yes, and the team undoubtedly will explore improving every position, but the plan for now seems to be Bortles being the likely starter. …

*Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik, now an NFL insider for ESPN, provided insight into one reason Bortles as the starter makes sense during a Friday appearance on LIVE last week. While observers have suggested bringing in competition for Bortles, Dominik said finding legitimate competition for an incumbent quarterback often is tough because of the perception that the incumbent has a major advantage. The other option at quarterback would be to sign a player with the idea that he will be the starter. Players such as Tony Romo of the Cowboys, Jay Cutler of the Bears or Mike Glennon of the Buccaneers have been mentioned as possibilities. Would such players be the right fit at the right price? Would Cutler or Romo – both of whom are under contract with their teams – even be available? Such are a few of the questions that make acquiring competition at quarterback difficult.



*Marrone at the combine: “We’re looking to better our team. We didn’t win a lot of football games, so whichever way we can better our team, and there’s a lot of different ways, there’s so much improvement in what we need.” …

*Marrone on secondary coach Perry Fewell and offensive line coach Pat Flaherty, each of whom were part of Super Bowl-winning staffs with the New York Giants: “When you’ve hired coaches that have had a lot of experience that have won games, that have been to the Super Bowl and things of that nature, I think that helps the cause. They know what it should look like and the direction we need to go.” …

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JACKSONVILLE – And now we wait – and speculate.

That’s what the coming weeks will be about in the NFL, because the coming weeks are the lead-in to the start of the 2017 league year.

That’s March 9, and that’s when free agency begins.

We’ll start getting an idea about the future direction of the Jaguars and the other 31 NFL teams as that date approaches. Look for teams to begin re-signing their own free agents in the coming weeks. Look, too, for teams to begin parting ways with veterans as they plan rosters and clear cap space in preparation for the new league year.

The Jaguars like every team must make key decisions regarding their own free agents, players such as guard Luke Joeckel, safety Johnathan Cyprien, defensive tackle Abry Jones, running back Denard Robinson and cornerback Prince Amukamara.

They also must decide which free agents to target. That’s where speculation will run the most rampant. Don’t look for Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, Head Coach Doug Marrone or General Manager David Caldwell to share much in that area. There’s nothing to gain from that.

So it will be up to the public and observers to ponder key free-agent questions:

*Will the Jaguars address competition for quarterback Blake Bortles?

*Will they address left guard there, or right tackle?

*Will they address safety? Or corner?

Some of those questions may sort themselves out as the Jaguars re-sign their own free agents as March 9 approaches. Some will remain a mystery until Twitter blows up during the few days leading to the league year. Stay tuned.

Until then, here’s the first of a two-part early, early look at free agency. This focuses on offense. Part 2 will focus on defense.

Here’s Part 1:



Top pending free agents: Kirk Cousins (29), Redskins; Mike Glennon (27); Buccaneers; Brian Hoyer (31), Bears; Matt Barkley (26), Bears; Geno Smith (26), Jets; Matt Schaub (36), Falcons; Case Keenum (29), Rams; Blaine Gabbert (27), 49ers; Landry Jones (28), Steelers; Ryan Mallett (29), Ravens; E.J. Manuel (27), Bills; Mark Sanchez (30), Cowboys; Christian Ponder (29), 49ers; Ryan Nassib (27), Giants.

Jaguars quarterbacks: Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Brandon Allen.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment: This list shows the importance of drafting and developing a quarterback. It’s typically difficult to find a starting quarterback in free agency and it will be difficult this offseason, too. Cousins isn’t likely to reach free agency. Speculation is Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets, Jay Cutler of the Bears and/or Tony Romo of the Cowboys could be released before free agency. Is there competition for Bortles somewhere in this sea of names? Stay tuned.


Running backs

Top pending free agents: Le’Veon Bell (25), Steelers; Eddie Lacy (26), Packers; LeGarrette Blount (30), Patriots; Latavius Murray (26), Raiders; Darren McFadden (30), Cowboys; Danny Woodhead (32), Chargers; Jacquizz Rodgers (27), Buccaneers; Matt Asiata (30), Vikings; Christine Michael (26), Packers; Shaun Draughn (29), 49ers; Fozzy Whittaker (28), Panthers; DeAngelo Williams (34), Steelers; Reggie Bush (32), Bills; Joique Bell (31), Lions; Justin Forsett (31), Broncos.

Jaguars running backs: T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory, Corey Grant, Denard Robinson, Joe Banyard, Daryl Richardson, Bronson Hill.

Pending Jaguars free agents: Robinson, Banyard.

Comment: This doesn’t seem a likely Jaguars free-agency target. Ivory and Yeldon shared carries last season, with Ivory signing as a free agent in the 2016 offseason and with Yeldon a second-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. This position could get interesting for the Jaguars during the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Will Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette entice the Jaguars to use the No. 4 overall selection on a back? That promises to be a key question in the coming months.



Top pending free agents: Kyle Juszczyk (26), Ravens; James Develin (29), Patriots; Patrick DiMarco (28), Falcons; Others: John Kuhn (34), Saints; Jerome Felton (31), Bills.

Jaguars fullbacks: None.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment: The Jaguars did not utilize a fullback the past two seasons. If that changes under coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, this could be a free-agent area of focus.


Wide receivers

Top pending free agents: Alshon Jeffery (27), Bears; DeSean Jackson (31), Redskins; Terrelle Pryor (28), Browns; Kenny Britt (28), Rams; Kenny Stills (25), Dolphins; Pierre Garcon (31), Redskins; Robert Woods (25), Bills; Michael Floyd (27), Patriots; Kendall Wright (27), Titans; Anquan Boldin (36), Lions; Brandon LaFell (30), Bengals; Adam Thielen (27), Vikings; Jeremy Kerley (28), 49ers; Terrance Williams (27), Cowboys; Ted Ginn (32), Panthers; Cordarrelle Patterson (26), Vikings; Kamar Aiken (28), Ravens; Brian Quick (28), Rams; Marquise Goodwin (26), Bills; Vincent Jackson (34), Buccaneers; Jordan Norwood (30), Broncos.

Jaguars wide receivers: Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, Bryan Walters, Rashad Greene Jr., Arrelious Benn, Rashad Lawrence, Jamal Robinson, Tony Washington, Shane Wynn.

Pending Jaguars free agents: Walters, Benn.

Comment: This seems like an unlikely Jaguars area of free-agent focus with Robinson, Hurns and Lee all entering their third seasons and all having been productive at various times in their careers.


Tight ends

Top pending free agents: Martellus Bennett (30), Patriots; Jared Cook (30), Packers; Jack Doyle (27), Colts; Luke Willson (27), Seahawks; Jacob Tamme (32), Falcons; Vernon Davis (33), Redskins; Jermaine Gresham (29), Cardinals; Jordan Cameron (29), Dolphins; Dion Sims (26), Dolphins; Mychal Rivera (26), Raiders; John Phillips (30), Saints; Clay Harbor (30), Lions; Logan Paulsen (30), Bears; Brandon Myers (31), Buccaneers; Ryan Griffin (27), Texans.

Jaguars tight ends: Marcedes Lewis, Ben Koyack, Julius Thomas, Neal Sterling, Alex Ellis, Gannon Sinclair, E.J. Bibbs.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment: There are no pending Jaguars free agents, but the dynamics of this position could change for the Jaguars in the coming weeks. Thomas, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2015, has $3 million in guarantees due at the start of the league year, so the team likely will decide on his future before then.



Top pending free agents: Andrew Whitworth (35), Bengals; (RT) Ricky Wagner (27), Ravens; (RT) Riley Reiff (28), Lions; Sebastian Vollmer (33), Patriots; Mike Remmers (28), Panthers; Jordan Mills (26), Bills; Earl Watford (27), Cardinals; Bradley Sowell (28), Seahawks; Ben Ijalana (28), Jets.

Jaguars tackles: Kelvin Beachum, Jermey Parnell, Josh Wells, Jeremiah Poutasi, Colin Kelly, Arturo Uzdavinis.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment: This is another position where the Jaguars must make decisions in the coming weeks. Beachum signed a one-year deal last offseason with a four-year option and he seems likely to return. Parnell has three years remaining on the five-year deal he signed in 2015, but there is no dead money on the Jaguars’ salary cap if Parnell does not return next season. That makes right tackle an area worth watching for the Jaguars in the draft and free agency.



Top pending free agents: Kevin Zeitler (27), Bengals; T.J. Lang (29), Packers; Larry Warford (26), Lions; Evan Mathis (35), Cardinals; Ronald Leary (28), Cowboys; John Jerry (31), Giants; Austin Pasztor (26), Browns; Jahri Evans (34), Saints; Stefen Wisniewski (28), Eagles; Chance Warmack (25), Titans; Chris Chester (34), Falcons; Jermon Bushrod (33), Dolphins; Ted Larsen (30), Bears; Vladimir Ducasse (29), Ravens.

Jaguars guards: A.J. Cann, Luke Joeckel, Patrick Omameh, Tyler Shatley, Chris Reed, Nilah Kasitati.

Pending Jaguars free agents: Joeckel, Omameh.

Comment: This seems a likely area for Jaguars free-agency activity. Zeitler is considered one of the top free agents on the market, as is Warford – and both are in the ideal age for signing an unrestricted free agent from another team. Also worth watching is the Jaguars’ decision about Joeckel, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft who started four games at guard last season before a season-ending knee injury.



Top pending free agents: A.Q. Shipley (31), Cardinals; Joe Hawley (28), Buccaneers; J.C. Tretter (26), Packers; Ryan Groy (26), Bills.

Jaguars centers: Brandon Linder, Luke Bowanko.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment: Movement here in free agency for the Jaguars appears unlikely.

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JACKSONVILLE – And now we get defensive.

This is Part 2 of’s early look at 2017 NFL free agency. The focus: defense, where the Jaguars will address important issues in the coming weeks.

The Jaguars between now and the March 9 start of free agency must determine which of their players they will try to re-sign and keep off the open market. That means high-profile decisions regarding players such as starting strong-safety Johnathan Cyprien, starting cornerback Prince Amukamara and defensive end Tyson Alualu.

This is a strong year on the overall market for defense at some positions, with players such as safety Eric Berry of Kansas City, defensive end/edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye scheduled to become free agents.

The guess here is that Berry will return to Kansas City, but could the Jaguars pursue Pierre-Paul in an effort for the veteran edge rusher they couldn’t acquire last offseason?

Could a player such as Bouye make sense if the Jaguars opt not to re-sign Amukamara?

Stay tuned, but the early days of free agency will be intriguing for the Jaguars both offensively and defensively, and we will learn much about the organization’s direction under Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone during that time.

Here’s Part 2 of’s early look at free agency with a focus on defense:


Edge players

Top pending free agents: Melvin Ingram (28), Chargers; Jason Pierre-Paul (28), Giants; Chandler Jones (27), Cardinals; Nick Perry (27), Packers; James Harrison (39), Steelers; DeMarcus Ware (35), Broncos; Datone Jones (27), Packers; Mario Addison (29), Panthers; Charles Johnson (31), Panthers; Jabaal Sheard (28), Patriots; Lorenzo Alexander (34), Bills; Julius Peppers (37), Packers; John Simon (26), Texans; Jamie Collins (27), Browns; Jarvis Jones (27), Steelers; Dwight Freeney (37), Falcons; Chris Long (32), Patriots; Andre Branch (28), Dolphins; William Gholston (26), Buccaneers; Sam Acho (28), Bears; Jason Jones (31), Dolphins; Erik Walden (32), Colts; Jack Crawford (28), Cowboys; Devin Taylor (27), Lions.

Jaguars edge players: Yannick Ngakoue, Dante Fowler Jr., Chris Smith.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment: The Jaguars pursued then-Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon last offseason before he signed with the New York Giants. While Ngakoue registered eight sacks and Fowler flashed at times in 2016, the Jaguars’ pass rush still lacked a veteran presence. Could Pierre-Paul, who played for Coughlin from 2010-2015, make sense? We’ll see.


Defensive tackles

Top pending free agents: Kawann Short (28), Panthers; Brandon J. Williams (28), Ravens; Calais Campbell (30), Cardinals; Dontari Poe (27), Chiefs; Chris Baker (29), Redskins; Nick Fairley (29), Saints; Bennie Logan (27), Eagles; Karl Klug (29), Titans; Alan Branch (32), Patriots; Lawrence Guy (27), Ravens; Tony McDaniel (32), Seahawks; Leger Douzable (31), Bills; Jonathan Babineaux (35), Falcons; Terrell McClain (29), Cowboys; Johnathan Hankins (25), Giants; Sylvester Williams (28), Broncos; Vince Wilfork (35), Texans; Domata Peko (32), Bengals; Ziggy Hood (30), Redskins; Glenn Dorsey (32), 49ers.

Jaguars defensive tackles: Malik Jackson, Abry Jones, Roy Miller, Sen’Derrick Marks, Sheldon Day, Michael Bennett, Jordan Hill, Louis Nix.

Jaguars strong-side defensive ends: Jared Odrick, Tyson Alualu.

Pending Jaguars free agents: Alualu, Jones, Hill.

Comment: This wouldn’t seem a high-priority area for the Jaguars, but the team must make decisions on Jones and Alualu in the coming weeks. Jones played at a high level after replacing Miller at nose tackle in October, and the guess here is the Jaguars try to re-sign the still-ascending player. Alualu is a reliable, versatile player who never has missed a game because of injury in seven NFL seasons and those players are hard to find. The team also must decide on the future of Odrick, who signed as a high-profile free agent in 2015 and who costs no dead money on next year’s salary cap if he is not retained.



Top pending free agents: Dont’a Hightower (27), Patriots; Perry Riley (31), Raiders; Zach Brown (27), Bills; Gerald Hodges (26), 49ers; Kevin Minter (26), Cardinals; Ray-Ray Armstrong (28), 49ers; Sio Moore (27), Cardinals; Sean Spence (28), Titans ; Karlos Dansby (35), Bengals; Josh Bynes (28), Lions; Daryl Smith (35), Buccaneers; Justin Durant (31), Cowboys; Nick Bellore (28), 49ers; Donald Butler (28), Dolphins; Chad Greenway (34), Vikings; Malcolm Smith (28), Raiders; Lawrence Timmons (31), Steelers; Philip Wheeler (32), Falcons; A.J. Klein (26), Panthers; Keenan Robinson (28), Giants; Kelvin Sheppard (29), Giants; Michael Wilhoite (30), 49ers; Manti Te’o (26), Chargers; Jelani Jenkins (25), Dolphins.

Jaguars linebackers: Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny, Myles Jack, Dan Skuta, Hayes Pullard, Marcus Rush, Sean Porter, Raphael Kirby.

Pending Jaguars free agents: None.

Comment: Smith and Posluszny were two of the Jaguars’ top three defensive players last season and the team figures to increase Jack’s role next season after he split time as a rookie with Dan Skuta at strong-side linebacker. This area doesn’t seem to be a free-agent priority, but a decision needs to be made on Skuta, who signed as a high-profile free agent in 2015 but who – like Odrick – costs no dead money on next year’s cap if not retained.



Top pending free agents: Eric Berry (28), Chiefs; Tony Jefferson (25), Cardinals; Barry Church (28), Cowboys; D.J. Swearinger (25), Cardinals; Quintin Demps (32), Texans; Jahleel Addae (27), Chargers; T.J. McDonald (26), Rams; Mike C. Adams (36), Colts; J.J. Wilcox (28), Cowboys; Bradley McDougald (26), Buccaneers; Duron Harmon (26), Patriots; Steven Terrell (26), Seahawks; Rafael Bush (30), Lions; Daniel Sorensen (27), Chiefs; Jaylen Watkins (24), Eagles; Rashad Johnson (31), Titans; Jordan Poyer (26), Browns; Kemal Ishmael (26), Falcons; Duke Ihenacho (28), Redskins; Donte Whitner (32), Redskins; Bacarri Rambo (27), Dolphins; Chris Conte (28), Buccaneers.

Jaguars safeties: Johnathan Cyprien, Tashaun Gipson, Peyton Thompson, James Sample, Jarrod Wilson.

Pending Jaguars free agents: Cyprien.

Comment: Cyprien will be a major decision for the Jaguars. He turned in his best season in four NFL seasons last season, but he could demand more than the Jaguars are willing to pay.



Top pending free agents: A.J. Bouye (26), Texans; Stephon Gilmore (26), Bills; Trumaine Johnson (27), Rams; Terence Newman (38), Vikings; Morris Claiborne (27), Cowboys; Darius Butler (31), Colts; Logan Ryan (26), Patriots; Captain Munnerlyn (29), Vikings; Dre Kirkpatrick (27), Bengals; Leon Hall (32), Giants; Micah Hyde (26), Packers; Sterling Moore (27), Saints; Jerraud Powers (30), Ravens; B.W. Webb (27), Saints; Antwon Blake (27), Titans; Corey White (27), Bills; Nolan Carroll (30), Eagles; D.J. Hayden (27), Raiders; Marcus Cooper (27), Cardinals; Leonard Johnson (27), Panthers.

Jaguars cornerbacks: Jalen Ramsey, Prince Amukamara, Aaron Colvin, Davon House, Josh Johnson, Doran Grant, Akeem Davis, Elijah Shumate.

Pending Jaguars free agents: Amukamara.

Comment: This is another area worth watching. Amukamara, who signed a one-year “show-me” contract with the Jaguars last offseason, showed he could stay healthy – and he played at a high level opposite Ramsey. Like Cyprien, this could be a situation where the player’s demands exceed what the team will pay. If so, could the Jaguars pursue a player such as Bouye? Coughlin likes to sign free agents within the division because it hurts division rivals while helping his own team. Stay tuned.


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You wouldn’t know it to listen to Blake Bortles, but the Jacksonville Jaguars actually won their preseason game Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Forget the glass half-full thing. In what has to be one of the bluntest sideline interviews ever given, the quarterback didn’t even seem to see a glass.

“Well, we played pretty bad,” Bortles said. “I don’t think they did a whole of things to stop us. We played bad at every position and usually that is what happens when you play bad — you don’t score a lot of points.”

Bortles, after having a strong preseason in his second year, started slow with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in a 20–9 loss at home against the Carolina Panthers in week 1. In week 2, Bortles led a comeback drive against the Miami Dolphins to seal their first victory of the season. He threw for 273 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. In week 5, Bortles threw for a then-career-high 4 touchdowns along with 303 yards and 21 yards rushing. However, this wasn’t enough as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won 38–31. In week 13, Bortles broke the Jaguars single game record with five touchdown passes in a 42–39 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Despite the Jaguars finishing 5-11 in 2015, Bortles enjoyed a breakout season, setting the Jaguars single-season franchise records for passing touchdowns (35), passing yards, (4,428), pass completions (355), and pass attempts (606). His passer rating only went below 80 five times in the season, in weeks 1, 6, 7, 10, and 17. He also threw a touchdown pass in the Jaguars’ first 15 games of 2015, a franchise record. After finishing his 15th game, he had the second most touchdown passes in the league with 35, but after throwing no touchdowns in a week 17 matchup against the Houston Texans, he had to share second place with Eli Manning, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer, behind only Tom Brady’s 36. He was also seventh in the NFL in passing yards with 4,428, behind Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Brady, Palmer, Matt Ryan, and Manning.
Quarterback Blake Bortles is a gamer and spreading the wealth to his many targets shouldn’t be a problem this season. Bortles and the offense had a three-and-out on their first series, but after that initial failure there was plenty of success.

Bortles went 8-of-9 for 85 passing yards and two touchdowns on the next two series. He connected with Allen Robinson, T.J. Yeldon, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee in limited action. His 24-yard touchdown pass to Hurns was a thing of beauty.

He has displayed proficiency in the redzone during practice but his ability to work the entire field has been shown during the first two preseason games.

2. The running back pairing of Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldo