The Jacksonville Jaguars and NFL are less than a month away from free agency and to quote the biggest fish on the market, JJ Watt, “it’s wild.”
Watt is right, free agency is a “wild” jungle, each day another treacherous journey that could deliver treasure or utter defeat. The only thing anyone knows about the time is that no one knows anything. But alas, we will try to make some sense of the upcoming time and what it could bring for the Jaguars with these five “not-so-bold” predictions for the Jags free agency.
The Club Will Sign A Defensive Lineman
Don’t get your hopes up, it won’t be J.J. Watt. His eyes are set on an immediate contender. But the Jags will look to sign someone for the trenches this offseason. There are a couple of options currently on the roster. Abry Jones was on last year’s roster but is now a free agent. He’s the longest tenured player in the club, having spent his entire eight year career in Jacksonville. He has the potential to be resigned purely for the leadership value. The question will be does he also offer the same value on the field, compared to others available.
Duwuane Smoot is a decent possibility, given his trajectory. He ended the 2020 season with 32 quarterback pressures (including 15 hurries) and seven sacks according to Pro Football Focus. He had 18 defensive stops, which PFF defines as a negative play for the offense. All respectable numbers to justify a resigning if the market is bare.
But the market isn’t bare. And the Jags have cap space. And a need in the interior line.
Leonard Williams from the New York Giants, Daquan Jones from Tennessee, Kawann Short from the Carolina Panthers—even Ndamukong Suh, if one could persuade him away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So the not-so-bold prediction? The Jaguars will find a defensive lineman in free agency. Now the question just remains who?
Sidney Jones Re-signs
This could be considered a bold prediction…unless you watched Jones play this past season. He was phenomenal and helped lock down the edge opposite rookie CJ Henderson. Unless the Jags want to pony up and sign Patrick Peterson, there aren’t any for-sure lockdown corners available in free agency this offseason and the best ones in the draft will be gone by the time the Jags take care of their other needs. Sidney Jones is a relatively cheaper option with a good return on investment. The primary concern is his ability to stay healthy. But he’s worth another look in the 2021 season.
At Least One Wide Receiver Is Let Go
The Jags have two notable wide receivers now on the market; Keelan Cole and Chris Conley. It’s a pretty safe assumption that at least one of them is let go. It’s not even crazy to assume both are on different rosters by next season. There are pro’s and con’s for resigning both and vice versa. Both have been discussed at length, either here or here or any given Tuesday on Twitter.
Suffice to say, say goodbye to at least one. On paper, it makes more sense for the Jags to keep Cole. But money compared to needs could mean they keep on Conley. Or send both out unto the wild blue yonder.
They Won’t Trade For Deshaun Watson…
…But the quarterback room will get a shake up. I know, I know, I can hear you saying it; “of course the room will get a shake up. Trevor Lawrence is coming in to save us all.” So in that case, a chance in the QB unit is inevitable (one might even call it, “not-so-bold”) but that will create a domino effect that will play out in free agency.
If the Jaguars elect to move on from Gardner Minshew or Jake Luton, it will require a trade or eating the dead money. But chances are, they simply elect not to resign Mike Glennon, who is now a free agent after his one year deal has been completed. The question now becomes, does Gardner Minshew take the opportunity to push Lawrence in camp while (likely) serving as an incredibly experienced back-up? Or does he ask to be released with a chance to start elsewhere? Or do the Jaguars receive a good trade agreement—something that shouldn’t be too difficult in what is currently a QB seller’s market.
If Glennon is bid adieu and Minshew request to follow, then the Jaguars will be searching the wire for someone to round out the unit. An experienced veteran to backup Lawrence while providing enough of a spark to push competition in camp is the goal. Someone like Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton or even Joe Flacco. Something along the lines of the Ryan Fitzpatrick-Miami Dolphins marriage of 2020. Speaking of, guess who’s available in free agency this offseason?
A Left Tackle Will Be Signed in FA
This signing could come from inside the franchise, with the club bringing back Cam Robinson. Or they could look elsewhere, like Trent Williams from the San Francisco 49ers. Somehow, someway, a new deal must be inked at the position. And it really, really should come in free agency. Drafting Trevor Lawrence to be the new franchise quarterback means the second most position on the field now becomes left tackle. Do you want to take a chance with a rookie in the draft and just roll the dice on what you’re going to get on Lawrence’s blind side? No. You don’t.