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What We Learned: NFL Owners Meetings

Posted Mar 22, 2013

PHOENIX – Here’s what we learned from the Jaguars’ week at the 2013 NFL Owners Meetings...

1.Gus Bradley remains a star. We saw it at the Senior Bowl, and again at the NFL Scouting Combine. Since his hiring as Jaguars head coach in January, he has shown at each public appearance the ability to energize and excite. At the AFC Coaches breakfast in Phoenix, the media again was buzzing about the guy. The NFL media doesn’t often “buzz” over coaches no matter how engaging. This is a trend. Will it translate to victories? That’s the ultimate test, but this is a good place to start.

2.The Jaguars are willing to bring back free agents. We knew this already because General Manager David Caldwell had said as much. Often. But this week, the process played out and the team reached a one-year agreement with veteran center Brad Meester – a move that makes sense. The Jaguars got a respected veteran to help with a young quarterback and to be a leader during the first year of the rebuild. They also got him at a price that makes sense, and in the roster-building process, the last part matters.

3.Greg Jones could be next. OK, we didn’t learn that this week. Caldwell has said throughout the process that the team would like the veteran fullback to return. He’s in a similar situation as Meester where the numbers need to work. The guess here is he’s next. Again, just a guess.

4.Daryl Smith could be after that. Yes, this is a bit more speculation than Jones, but a little more than two weeks into free agency, you start to get a real feeling the veteran linebacker could be back. This writer was very skeptical that was possible before. Now, we’ve reached the point where the longer he remains unsigned, the better chance for a return. That would be a big short-term “get’ for the Jaguars if that happens.

5.David Caldwell knows what he’s doing. Look, we get that there are going to be fans who question not bringing in high-priced unrestricted free agents. Fans are fans and they have the right to want what they want. But Caldwell’s trying to build the right way for the long-term. Talk to people who’ve done this before – and there were tons of such people in Phoenix this week – and they’ll tell you: when you’re starting the build, there’s just little to be gained from dipping into free agency. Get the cap right, build through the draft, shut out the noise. There’s time to dabble later.

6.The Jaguars are interested in Geno. Note, we said, “interested.” We emphasize that for a reason. The decision-makers went to Morgantown last week en masse – though not quite as en masse as reported in some circles – and they wouldn’t have gone if there wasn’t some interest. Bradley reiterated that this week – that yes, there were some things he liked about the West Virginia quarterback. Still, it’s not yet time to pencil him in at the Jaguars. How serious the interest may be, and whether there is in fact some posturing somewhere within that interest, remains to be seen.

7.Bradley likes Paul Posluszny. With the recent release of veteran players such as safety Dawan Landry, wide receiver Laurent Robinson and cornerback Aaron Ross, there has been speculation in some circles that Poslusnzy, too, could be released. Not happening. Posluszny, as Bradley likes to say, is “reliable, tough and smart.” Bradley was immediately taken in early conversations with Posluszny, and it appears Posluszny will be a key leader early in the rebuild.

8.There’s not a right tackle walking through that door – at least not a high-priced one. Even with Caldwell talking throughout the offseason about building through the draft and staying away from high-priced free agency, there have been observers waiting for the Jaguars to sign a veteran right tackle. Names such as Sebastian Vollmer, Eric Winston and even Andre Smith have been thrown around. Throw all you want, they’re probably not happening. This team is building through the draft with reasonably priced free agency. That’s the early formula and it’s not changing no matter how much fans covet “names.”

9.Bradley believes in Maurice Jones-Drew. The vibe around the “Maurice Jones-Drew” situation is markedly different this offseason compared to last. This time a year ago, there were whispers of a holdout by Jones-Drew that turned into an extended absence from training camp. Now, Bradley said he and Jones-Drew have communicated and he believes Jones-Drew has the right mindset. A big change in a year.

10.Bradley’s giving Blaine Gabbert a chance. There is going to be competition at the quarterback position, and the margin for error facing Gabbert will be smaller than the first two seasons. Caldwell said again this week that the plan is to bring in free agents and/or rookies to compete at the quarterback position with Gabbert and Chad Henne. But while some outside the team may have given up on Gabbert, Bradley it is clear has not. He likes what he has heard from Gabbert, and the coach who is all about competing and getting better daily clearly wants to give the former No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft a chance to do just that.

11.Shad Khan believes in this process. Talk to the Jaguars’ owner even for a few minutes, and he makes that much clear. He had his usual money quote on the Jaguars’ free-agency approach Monday when he said, “I like it, I endorse it and highly support it.” This approach to free agency wasn’t some willy-nilly plan conjured up by Caldwell on the fly. This was something he and Khan agreed on early and it fits with Khan’s idea that this is a pretty significant rebuild.

12.Khan believes in Bradley and Caldwell. Again, spend more than a few minutes around Khan and it’s clear he believes in Khan and Bradley. Sure, that seems logical. He just hired the duo a couple of months back, but he said this week he likes how their actions have meshed with their words, and it’s clear that Khan believes for the first time he has the right people in the right key places. Now, we just have to watch and see how it plays out.

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