It’s no secret that the Jaguars most pressing need headed into this offseason is at the Wide Receiver position. During the 2011 season, the position was a revolving door for the Jaguars. Jason Hill, the starter to begin the season, was cut around the midway point of the year. After receiving a contract extension, Mike Thomas didn’t live up to expectations. Mike Sims-Walker was even brought back. There was no consistency in Jacksonville at the position this past season, and that’s about to change.
There’s been constant speculation about which top free agent Wide Receiver could potentially wind up in Jacksonville. Some Wide Receivers who could potentially become free agents include Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, and Marques Colston. Most likely, Kansas City won’t let Bowe walk, much like Pittsburgh will try to retain Mike Wallace, and it seems unlikely that Gene Smith would make a move for a guy like DeSean Jackson. Marques Colston has been a name that many think will hit free agency, because of the Saints having to work out long-term deals with Drew Brees and Carl Nicks. Plus, they’re certainly not shorthanded when it comes to offensive weapons in New Orleans.
It's been thrown around by various outlets that Buffalo may not slap the franchise tag on soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson. Assuming Marques Colston and Stevie Johnson both hit free agency on March 13th, it's likely that the Jaguars will heavily pursue one of them. Yet, I think that Johnson would be the better choice.
Drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Stevie Johnson’s career has skyrocketed after finally getting the chance to show what he can do over these past two seasons. Over the last two seasons, Johnson has accumulated 2,077 yards with 17 touchdowns. He’s had fantastic production, despite having a supporting cast on offense with the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brad Smith, David Nelson, and Scott Chandler. Despite facing numerous double teams during games, Johnson has undeniably been able to produce.
Colston has been able to produce too, accumulating 2,166 yards with 15 touchdowns over the course of the last couple of seasons, in comparison to Johnson’s last two years. Yet, Colston has Drew Brees, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, and Jimmy Graham on the same offensive unit; guys that have made plays for that explosive offense in New Orleans. I wouldn’t be upset at all if the Jaguars landed Colston as their big free agent Wide Receiver acquisition, but he might be a bigger question mark. Stevie Johnson is only 25 years old, and will only continue to get better. In a Jacksonville offense that struggled in 2011, one that I think will see major improvement in 2012, is one that Johnson could potentially really shine in.
Lastly, the notion that Stevie Johnson has character issues needs to be put to rest. The guy hasn’t had any off the field trouble. Who cares if he’s gotten a few penalties as a result of elaborate touchdown celebrations? Jacksonville’s offense was completely anemic in 2011, so we can’t be too picky. The guy is a playmaker who is on the rise, and would be a great fit in Jacksonville.
Go get him, Gene.