One of the more interesting quarterback situations in the NFL may actually be in Jacksonville. In reality, their current position is something of a mess. Although the team has expressed a desire to keep former tenth overall draft pick Blaine Gabbert, he’s probably dead in the water. In addition, the team’s starting quarterback, Chad Henne, is still unsigned.
That’s the Jags’ current setup at quarterback, but there are a few factors working in their favor. Michael Vick will be available in free agency, and because he’d have the opportunity to be a starter, Jacksonville would be an attractive landing spot for him.
In addition to the attractiveness of offering a free agent such as Vick or even Josh McCown, the Jaguars have the third overall selection in the draft, meaning they’ll almost certainly have the option of taking one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft. Although owner Shahid Khan has indicated his team will definitely be drafting a quarterback, something everyone already knew anyway, the team has been quiet about the details of when such a pick would be used.
The Jaguars would like to hang onto Henne. He gave their offense more stability than it has seen since David Garrard left town, and at the end of the season, he actually gave them an opportunity to win games. He has a huge advantage leading the team’s offense simply because he’s been in the system.
If, however, the Jaguars are unable to sign Henne, they’ll likely begin exploring their other options, most of which would include fast-tracking a rookie quarterback into the starting role.
If Jacksonville doesn’t land Henne, they’ll most likely be targeting one of the top quarterbacks in free agency, either Vick or McCown. Both of those players could give the Jaguars quality starts, but there would be no potential of becoming a long-term solution. Henne, who will be 29 years old when the 2014 season begins, is a serviceable starting quarterback that would give the Jags an option should a rookie quarterback not pan out.
The Jaguars’ current quarterback situation is analogous to a juggler with all his items in the air. If Henne falls into place, the Jags can slowly develop a young quarterback to take the reins down the road. If the Jaguars have to head into free agency to find a quarterback, they’ll be looking to speed up the grooming process.
Although the Jags aren’t one of the most exciting teams in the league, their quarterback situation should command some of our interest heading into free agency, and eventually the draft. At 4-12, the team has plenty of room for growth, and there’s little doubt they’re heading in the right direction. If Jacksonville can make the right moves at the most important position in football, they’ll give themselves a chance to fight back into relevance moving forward.