- The Jaguars' latest big swing for defensive difference-makers swipes a top corner from a division rival.
The Jaguars are spending another March stockpiling talent, in hopes that it pays off come September. Their latest big fish: CB A.J. Bouye, who emerged as a surprise star for the Texans last season and hit free agency as arguably the top defensive back available.
Houston chose not to use the franchise tag on Bouye on the heels of the 25-year-old’s breakout showing, and now will have to face him twice a year in AFC South battles. The Jaguars signed him to a five-year deal worth $67.5 million with $26 million guaranteed, per ESPN’s Michael C. Wright.
Bouye played on one of the league’s best defenses in Houston, and his setup in Jacksonville might not be too shabby, either. For starters, he will pair at outside cornerback with Jalen Ramsey—the first-round pick made a run at Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016. The Jaguars finished last season ranked fifth in passing yards allowed, although they picked off just seven passes, the fewest in the NFL.
Bouye had just one interception himself, but he held opposing QBs to a 50.5% completion rate and 58.5 QB rating on passes thrown his direction, per Pro Football Focus.
The true impact of Bouye’s addition falls under a similar umbrella to the Calais Campbell-to-Jacksonville talk (a move reportedly now on hold, as the Broncos attempt to swoop in): This all looks great. The Jaguars have shown they are willing to spend to land top-level defensive talent, and they have pursued defensive free agents with as much vigor as any other franchise.
The real challenge for the Jaguars has been translating all of that ability into results. The inability to do so took down former coach Gus Bradley, and new coach Doug Marrone and QB Blake Bortles will enter 2017 with all eyes firmly on them.
The talking point heading into the ’16 campaign was that the Jaguars’ defense had improved enough to match up with their explosive offense. The offense never followed through on that hype. The coming season will provide another chance for all parties, with yet another talented defender on board.