This is the fifth article in a series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars top needs entering the 2013 offseason.
Just like at cornerback, the Jaguars have some work to do this offseason if they plan on fielding three quality linebackers in 2013.
Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny has been solid the past two seasons for the Jaguars, but his contract is set to take a significant jump in 2013 and may not be worth it for a team going through a complete reconstruction. While Posluszny is a solid tackler, he has been a liability in pass coverage which led some opposing tight ends to have big games against the Jaguars this past season. My guess is that the Jaguars keep Posluszny on for at least one more year, but they may use the later rounds of the draft to bring in a younger option at the middle linebacker position for the future.
The Jaguars bigger questions lie at the outside linebacker position, as their best defensive player of the last 10 years is a free agent this offseason. Despite missing 14 games last year with a groin injury, Daryl Smith still figures to command a big contract as one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers on the market this offseason. While the Jaguars would probably like to keep Smith around, it would not surprise me if a team on the cusp of being a contender breaks to bank to bring him in this offseason. The Jaguars have too many other needs to keep Smith if the price tag is too much.
The Jaguars used Russell Allen at outside linebacker this past season, but he is best suited in his old role as the fourth linebacker on the roster capable of filling in for an injured starter. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, Allen is currently the best outside linebacker on the roster right now and may be forced into a starting role again next year.
The free agent market for linebacker is lacking this offseason, so the Jaguars will likely have to bring in one or two guys through the draft process. There is typically good value at the linebacker position in the fourth round and beyond. The Jags have bigger needs to address in the top three rounds, but I would not be surprised if the Jaguars took a guy like Arthur Brown of Kansas State or Jelani Jenkins of Florida at the top of the fourth round.
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