The new league year for the NFL has officially begun (as of 4 p.m. Wednesday) and the Jacksonville Jaguars are making the first wave of changes to their roster in preparation for fall.
The club officially announced the signing of 12 new faces in free agency, one in a trade, as well as agreements reached with five Jaguars players from the 2020 roster.
But with new beginnings come some ends. The club also saw 15 players become unrestricted free agents, free to sign with other teams. That full list is as follows:
- Wide receiver Keelan Cole
- Wide receiver Chris Conley
- Tight end Tyler Eifert
- Quarterback Mike Glennon
- Defensive end Adam Gotsis
- Cornerbackback D.J. Hayden
- Safety Josh Jones
- Defensive tackle Abry Jones
- Defensive end/linebacker Aaron Lynch
- Cornerback Greg Mabin
- Defensive tackle Caraun Reid
- Defensive tackle Daniel Ross
- Tight end Eric Saubert
- Running back Chris Thompson
- Wide receiver Dede Westbrook
Jacksonville inked new deals with five players before the free agency market opened. Those players are:
- Corner Sidney Jones IV
- Defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot
- Offensive lineman Tyler Shatley
- Offensive lineman Cam Robinson (franchise tag)
- Corner Tre Herndon
Of the 15 players who become free agents, several are of note. Abry Jones was the most tenured player on the Jaguars roster, having been with the team for eight seasons, since he was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013. In his Jaguars career, Jones accounted for 186 tackles, 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles from his interior lineman position. Jones was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury in October of 2020 and never returned to the field.
Receiver Keelan Cole was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and immediately became a contributor. He was a starter opposite DJ Chark in 2020. In his four years with the team, Cole accumulated 159 receptions (110 first down), 2,242 yards and 12 touchdowns. Cole was also a special teams contributor, having returned nine punts in the 2020 season for 140 yards (average 15.5 per return) and a punt returned for a touchdown.
Last Tuesday, Head Coach Urban Meyer addressed the state of the Jaguars roster following the 2020 season.
“You always start at the quarterback position. Obviously, Gardner [Minshew II] was a guy that had some success early here. I’ve spent a little bit of time with him, not a lot of time with him. But you always start at the quarterback position and we have the number one pick. There’s a lot of speculation out there that [a quarterback] will be the first pick so number one is just making sure we have the quarterback room exactly the way we want it.
"From there, you look at a defense that really struggled in a lot of areas and I always believe you build your team around the defensive line and you move backwards, so that’s what we’re going to do. Our defensive line, we feel good about it, a few of our players are pretty good. I just don’t want to go into names right now. I don’t think that’s fair to the players. But the defensive line will be solidified first and then we move to the back of the defense and our defensive secondary needs to be revamped in a few spots.
“Offensively, I think we have some really good receivers. We’re not done with that room, however. If you’ve covered our teams over the years, the need for speed, the big play opportunity was not the Jaguars last year and we’re searching for the big play hit at the receiver position. Running back, James [Robinson], we feel pretty good about him. He had a good year, so we want to build a room with him being an integral part of it.
“The tight end room, that’s a room that’s going to have to be rebuilt in some ways. Offensive line, especially the interior line, I feel really good about them, [OL Andrew] Norwell, [OL Brandon] Linder, and [OL] A.J. [Cann]. Those guys are good and our right tackle, I feel like his future’s ahead of him too. So, the offensive line, they should be better than a year [ago]. The expectation is that the offensive line will be much better next year.”
The timeline for free agents to sign with a new team varies, although the 15 now on the market from the Jaguars are unrestricted free agents.
For restricted free agents, they can sign with a new team from March 17 to April 23. For unrestricted free agents who have received a tender from their prior club by the Monday immediately following the final day of the NFL Draft for the 2021 League Year (i.e., May 3), they have from March 17 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).
For franchise players, the time frame stretches from March 17 until the Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular season, November 16. For transition players, it will be from March 17 until July 22. After July 22 and until 4 p.m. ET on the Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular season, November 16, the prior club has exclusive negotiating rights to unrestricted free agents and transition players.