Jaguars Mailbag: Who is most likely to get a contract extension? Who could be a surprise starter?

Entering mandatory minicamp, this week's Jaguars Mailbag features questions about potential extensions, the starting lineup and roster cuts.

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@StopholusPrime: Who do you see as the first player to get a extension out of Brandon Linder, Allen Robinson or Telvin Smith?

Mike Kaye:  There is no easy answer here.

All three are talented players, but it's a matter of how much the team values their position and how willing they are to make a team-friendly deal. 

All three deserve extensions. However, they aren't all guaranteed to get deals. 

Each player has question marks when it comes to negotiations.

Linder has missed 15 games due to injuries over the last two seasons, Robinson saw his numbers diminish tremendously last season compared to his 2015 campaign and Smith plays a position that isn't considered to be of heavy importance.

Linder is probably in the best shape to receive an extension first out of the three. He is my pick of the trio.

He has proven to be a good starting center and right guard and he will play one of those positions this season. He has versatility and the offensive line needs some long-term stability alongside Cam Robinson. His injuries are a concern, but that also gives the Jaguars leverage in negotiations. 

Linder has said an extension isn't his top priority, which should also make him an easier negotiation when the time comes.

Robinson is probably best served letting this season play out. He is capable of more than what he showed last season and a bounce back year could lead to a much bigger deal or the franchise tag. Robinson has valid reasons to wait on a deal.

Smith is a tough negotiation because he is a very good player and leader, but the weakside linebacker position isn't a top notch spot in the league. It is a very replaceable position as well and the Jaguars have hedged their bets by drafting Blair Brown. Smith likely has a high opinion of his worth - and he should - but 4-3 outside linebackers are not very highly paid players.

It would be surprising to see general manager Dave Caldwell spend heavily on the position, despite Smith being a homegrown talent. 

Shareef asks: Who do you think will be an unexpected starter in 2017?

MK: The two guys I could see surprising some are Tyler Shatley and Tommy Bohanon. 

Shatley has received looks with the starters at guard and center and has been with the team for four seasons. The Jaguars have always been high on him as a versatile backup, but it does seem like he is getting every opportunity to earn a starting spot.

The return of Branden Albert may curb those efforts, but it would not shock me if Cam Robinson or Jermey Parnell took a seat on the bench if Linder outplays all other options at right guard and the Jaguars need a new center. Shatley would likely be that replacement at this point.

Bohanon has one guy to compete with. Rookie fullback Marquez Williams was a seventh-round pick, but those late Day 3 selections are always at risk. While Williams is the favorite to win the fullback job, Bohanon is a veteran who has a history in the league. It would be a surprise but I think the former New York Jets fullback has a shot.

@DemJags asks: Who will be the surprise cut this year?

MK: It's going to be tough getting third-year running back T.J. Yeldon on the field. 

The team drafted running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick. You don't take a running back there without planning to use him early and often.

Veteran Chris Ivory will be his running mate in the early going, but Fournette is poised to be three-down back by the end of the season. Ivory is a former starter, who should make the most of his time.

The front office has backed Yeldon as a receiver and blocker out of the backfield, but it's hard to imagine him getting more than a handful of snaps on offense per game. He will also need to play a role on special teams. However, he hasn't played a snap of special teams during his first two years in the league, according to Pro Football Reference.

The team also has Corey Grant, who has speed that is unparalleled on the roster. The Jaguars could prefer Grant as a wild card in their tailback group.

Yeldon needs to earn the gig this year. He is no longer on scholarship as a former second-round pick.

Mike Kaye and ask your questions on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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