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Jaguars Top Priority In Free Agency is to Keep Their Own

When a new collective bargaining agreement is agreed to and ratified, and the lockout is lifted, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ top priority will be to retain their own free agents, writes Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union.

“Our own players will always be our first priority,” Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. “I’ve said this before that it is our objective to get a long-term deal done with (tight end) Marcedes (Lewis).”

The Jaguars used the franchise tag on Lewis, which Mac’s Football Blog projects will be worth $7.285 million in 2011. Lewis’ five-year rookie contract was worth $10.53 million with $5.1 million in guarantees.

Other key free agents for the Jaguars are linebackers Kirk Morrison and punter Adam Podlesh. Linebacker Justin Durant is not expected back, nor is wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, who spent his rookie season injured reserve and has 122 receptions for 1,648 yards and 14 touchdowns in 38 games since and has already been informed that he will not be re-signed.

With Lewis essentially under contract already, the Jaguars won’t be as busy as other NFL teams during an expected three-day period where teams can re-sign their own players, which could quickly shift their priority towards addressing a secondary that has gone from 24th (2008) to 26th (2009) to 28th (2010) in pass defense the last three seasons.

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