Since free agency began Tuesday, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been relatively quiet. They have not, however, been silent. They’ve recently re-signed key defensive players like Dwight Lowery and Jeremy Mincey. Their only big free agent signings have been that of former Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson and former Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne.
The Jaguars signings haven’t been blockbuster moves. There’s no doubt about that, and it’s becoming apparent that they plan on fixing many of their offensive woes through the draft, but they’ve kept their talent in-house, and they’ve added depth at the most important position, quarterback.
There’s little doubt in my mind that Blaine Gabbert was the Jaguars’ starter in 2011 simply due to the fact that the Jaguars had no viable starters on the team. While Gabbert showed some development, the Jaguars were looking to add a contingency plan should Gabbert continue to struggle early in 2012.
Enter Chad Henne. Henne hasn’t been the most successful or glamorous quarterback in the NFL, but he carved out his own niche as an NFL starter in Miami. I had the feeling going into free agency that Henne would be looking to sign with a team he had a chance of starting for, and I think that may have been a selling point with the Jaguars. It’s very possible that the Jaguars indicated to Henne that he’ll be given a chance to compete for the starting job, and if nothing else, the signing will pressure Gabbert to perform.
Laurent Robinson is the Jaguars’ other signee of note. Robinson has been in the league since 2007, and he’s coming off of his best statistical year, catching 54 passes in his year with the Cowboys. Robinson is most likely not going to be the Jaguars’ number one receiver. I get the feeling that the Jaguars will draft their number one receiver, put Robinson at number two, and move current number one, Mike Thomas, to the slot position.
The Jaguars haven’t had a true number one receiver since Jimmy Smith retired, and despite their efforts, they’ve been unable to fix that facet of their offense. Signing Robinson does more to fix their receiving corp than is outwardly apparent. By pushing in Robinson at number two and moving Thomas to where he belongs in the slot position, a number one receiver suddenly makes the Jaguars’ receiving unit look very average, if not above average.
The Jaguars are operating as if Blaine Gabbert is a franchise quarterback. If he pans out, the Jaguars may be able to produce an average offense, and that, coupled with a stellar defense, could produce a playoff caliber team. The Jaguars success will be determined entirely by Blaine Gabbert’s capabilities and his receivers’ abilities in 2012. Should they pan out in a solid way, the Jaguars should be a very formidable team in 2012. The signings of Robinson and Henne aren’t glamorous, but they do strengthen the foundation of the team, and that’s exactly what they’re designed to do.