Receiver Shorts could be in final weeks with Jaguars
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Cecil Shorts III might be in his final weeks with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With three games remaining, the Jaguars (2-11) have shown little, if any, interest in re-signing the fourth-year receiver who's in the final year of his rookie contract.
And it's tough to blame them.
Shorts has 40 receptions for 419 yards and a touchdown this season, missed three games because of an injury and failed to step up since leading receiver Allen Robinson sustained a season-ending foot injury. With Robinson sitting out the last three games, Shorts has seven catches for 44 yards.
"If I could write it, it wouldn't have gone this way," Shorts said Wednesday.
Shorts would love to get hot down the stretch, beginning Sunday at Baltimore (8-5), and either persuade the Jaguars to bring him back or put some solid performances out there for 31 other teams to see.
"Something's going to work out eventually," he said. "It's a matter of finishing strong and just letting go. ... I'm not worried about it."
Shorts, a fourth-round draft pick in 2011, has 163 receptions for 2,205 yards and 12 touchdowns in four seasons in Jacksonville. He signed a four-year deal worth $2.6 million.
A Division III standout at Mount Union, Shorts wasn't expected to be a No. 1 receiver coming out of college. But free agent Laurent Robinson (concussions) and first-round pick Justin Blackmon (suspensions) didn't pan out, so Jacksonville dubbed Shorts the go-to guy. It may have been too much to ask.
Injuries were his biggest problem, with Shorts missing 14 total games and never getting through a full season without any setbacks.
He hoped to reverse the trend in 2014, but ended up sitting out most of training camp, the preseason and three of the first five regular-season games with a nagging hamstring injury.
He's healthy now and has enjoyed glimpses of success, topping 100 yards receiving against Tennessee and Dallas. But consistency has been an issue.
He had his worst game of the season Sunday against Houston, catching two passes for 3 yards and dropping two balls. One of those hit him between the numbers in the fourth quarter and negated what looked like it would be a big gain in an 11-point game.
"You're going to have bad games here and there," Shorts said. "Mine happened to be this Sunday. Just going to go out there and put more focus on what I've got to get done. I'm not going to over-think or over-stress, just back to the grind."
Shorts was targeted 10 times, but offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said he only had a chance to make four catches. He added that he expects Shorts to bounce back against the Ravens.
"I think he'll be fine," Fisch said. "I think Cecil played a good game. It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances."
Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell had preliminary talks with Shorts' agent about a new contract last summer, before Shorts got hurt again and before he struggled on the field.
Although the Jaguars have about $60 million in cap space, bringing back Shorts doesn't appear to be a priority considering the emergence of second-round draft picks Robinson and Marqise Lee as well undrafted rookie Allen Hurns. And there have been indications that Blackmon could return in 2015.
All those factors could have Shorts on the free-agent market. As appealing as that might be, Shorts would prefer to stay in Jacksonville.
"Of course you're going to be intrigued by it," he said. "The team, I feel, is going in the right direction and it would be awful - I would feel terrible - if I end up somewhere else and this team is - boom! - going. I just want to be here and I want to be a part of it because I've been through the rough times. You can see success coming."