Jaguars’ general manager Gene Smith has made no bones about it recently that he feels the need for the team to get better at the linebacker position. It’s not that he doesn’t feel that the corps that he has isn’t good or strong he just feels that it could use an upgrade and became even better.
With 10 linebackers on the roster no doubt you can expect someone from last years team to not be back. Smith realizes that the linebackers need to get more pressure on the quarterback as the group only had 3.5 sacks all last year and all of those came from just Daryl Smith.
In the AFC South you need to have linebackers that can tackle, make big hits, and get after the QB especially when you play Matt Schaub and Peyton Manning twice a year each. The best available option that I can see in this year’s free agent class is outside linebacker Manny Lawson. There were better options out there but have been franchise tagged or tendered, two of those are LaMarr Woodley and Kamerion Wimbley.
Lawson is entering his 6th season in the league, all of which have been spent with the San Francisco 49ers. Lawson is a product of North Carolina State and hails from Goldsboro, North Carolina. While Manny only has 14.5 career sacks if he jumps back to 2009 and replicates what he did that year it could be a great help to the Jags if he does sign with them.
In 2009 Manny had 6.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 68 total tackles. While these aren’t overwhelming stats Manny does have the intensity and athleticism to be a major threat if put in the right spots and system. Lawson could fit very well into Mel Tuckers defensive schemes and would add size and speed to an already athletic linebacker corps. If Lawson is added to the team Tucker will have an extra athlete to send at the South’s QB’s.
While Lawson may not be the best in the class of free agent linebackers he may be the best fit for the Jags. With progress going on with the lock out Jacksonville will definitely be active in doing their research on Manny as well as others. Manny would be an upgrade and bring the intensity that GM Gene Smith is looking for this upcoming season.