The Jaguars have done everything to suggest to Luke Joeckel this offseason that he’s not their left tackle of the future.
But the former No. 2 overall pick is determined to prove he can still be the left tackle of the present.
Via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Joeckel said he’s fighting to keep the job expected of him since the 2013 NFL Draft, when he was the second player off the board, ostensibly to become a franchise cornerstone.
“I’m going in planning on winning the job,” Joeckel said. “I’m competing for a spot – that’s what this program is based on. I have to go out there and improve myself each and every day.”
He’ll have to. Already this offseason, the Jaguars went out and signed former Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum, and yesterday they gave Joeckel snaps at guard as part of the kind of experiments you try in the spring.
But the toughest blow was when they didn’t pick up the 2017 option on his rookie contract, since they didn’t want to guarantee $11.9 million a year from now to a guy they didn’t know what to do with.
“I don’t know if insulted is the right word for it,” he said. “[General manager] Dave [Caldwell] was honest with me the whole time.
“You do take it personally, for sure. But I want to stick in Jacksonville. I like it here. It all comes down to my play and I know that.”
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he could see a difference in Joeckel this spring, saying: “It feels like he’s on a little bit of a mission.”
A mission for a new contract, and to convince the Jaguars he can still be the guy they thought they were getting in 2013.