First Coast News will take a look at each position group on the Jaguars' roster on a daily basis over the next few weeks. Today's focus will be on the linebacker position.
Previous Position Evaluations
On The Roster
The Jaguars currently have Telvin Smith, Dan Skuta, Paul Posluszny, Myles Jack, Sean Porter, Hayes Pullard and Rapheal Kirby under contract at linebacker.
Smith and Posluszny have been the staples of the group for three years. Smith had perhaps the best season of his career last year as he continued to ascend as one of the best weakside linebackers in the league. Posluszny was steady against the run throughout the year and made a few plays against the pass as well. Both are considered team leaders in the locker room.
Jack was drafted in the second round last offseason and was moved around the lineup for months. He eventually settled on the Otto (read: SAM) role and started 10 games. He end up playing just 239 defensive snaps. He will look to build on his up-and-down rookie year this season.
Pullard and Porter provided special teams support last season. Pullard is viewed as the No. 4 linebacker on the team. He has the ability to play all three spots.
Skuta went from being a starting Otto linebacker to a utility player and special teams linebacker last season. He is more than likely to be cut this offseason with a $4.1 million price tag. The Jaguars can wipe out that entire salary cap cost by releasing Skuta.
Kirby spent time on the practice squad before receiving a future/reserve contract.
The team hired Mark Collins as its linebackers coach in January. Collins spent two seasons with the New York Jets as the team's outside linebackers coach. He served in the same role with the Atlanta Falcons in 2014. He had worked as a defensive assistant with Atlanta from 2010-2013.
Posluszny has a $5.16 million cap hit this season. The team can save $5 million in cap space by cutting him this offseason. If the Jaguars are eager to move Jack to middle linebacker, it would make sense to make the move now. Both Posluszny and Skuta are names to watch prior to free agency. The team could save $9.1 million in cap space by releasing both players.
Options in Free Agency
The Jaguars' interest in free agent linebackers will likely be dictated by the roster statuses of Skuta and Posluszny. If the Jaguars are looking for a true SAM linebacker or a hybrid Otto player (again!), Andrew Gachkar of the Dallas Cowboys, Courtney Upshaw of the Atlanta Falcons and Zach Brown of the Buffalo Bills make sense.
If the team views Jack as more of an outside linebacker, the Jaguars could check out middle linebackers like Keenan Robinson and Mark Herzlich of the New York Giants and Kevin Minter of the Arizona Cardinals.
Options in the Draft
The draft class is stocked with solid linebackers. Alabama's Reuben Foster is easily the cream of the crop and could be selected as early as pick No. 3.
If the Jaguars want to wait on the position, Wisconsin's T.J. Watt, Houston's Tyus Bowser and Florida's Alex Anzalone should be available on Day 2.
Late-round sleepers include Houston's Steven Taylor (turnover machine), Jackson State's Javancy Jones and Arizona's Paul Magloire.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.