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Rashean Mathis: 'I'm not ready to let go of my guys yet'

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis was finally looking like he was getting back to his 2006 All-Pro form during the 2011 NFL season. With an improved safety tandem behind him, Mathis looked much better than he did in the previous season when the secondary as a hole was a disaster. Mathis' season was cut short however when he tore his ACL against the Indianapolis Colts, missing the final seven games of the season. Making matters worse, Mathis was in the final year of his contract and is now scheduled to be a free agent, but he wants to come back to Jacksonville.

"I'm not ready to let go of my guys yet - the locker room, the camaraderie we have," Mathis told John Oehser of Jaguars.com. "That is still a part of me. There will be a day where I wash my hands of it and say, ‘The Lord has allowed me to do great things,' but that's not here. My time is not up yet."

Mathis has been a stalwart on the Jaguars defense since his rookie season when he took over the starting cornerback position. Mathis has been a fan favorite and also taken a lot of unwarranted criticism (at times) because he's also from Jacksonville, playing his high school football at Englewood High School. Mathis wants to continue his career in his hometown.

"That's what I want - and there is hope," Mathis told Oehser. "Hopefully, I don't hit free agency. The people who work for me know that and my agency knows that - and they have always known that. I've never kept that a secret, but I understand the evaluation process that has to go on and the trust process with this injury that has to go on."

I don't expect Mathis to command much money in free agency and if he's recovered from his injury, he can still provide a reliable service in the Jaguars secondary. As it stands, the Jaguars starting cornerbacks would be Derek Cox (who's coming off his own injury) and Drew Coleman, the teams nickelback from 2011. Both William Middleton and Rashean Mathis are slated to be free agents. It's definitely a position of need for the Jaguars entering the 2012 season.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.