It was little surprise when the Jacksonville Jaguars added a wide receiver during free agency, let alone one with ties to new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
But with this in mind, not many pegged the receiver the would be the always reliable veteran Marvin Jones, catcher of 18 touchdown passes in Bevell's offense with the Detroit Lions the last two years.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Jaguars agreed to terms with Jones, 31, on a two-year, $14.5 million deal with $9.2 million in guarantees. Considering other deals that wide receivers have gotten to this point in free agency, Jones is a relative bargain for a Jaguars offense that already had a number of young receivers.
But just how well does Jones fit into the Jaguars offense moving forward? We break down his fit in Jacksonville below.
How does he fit?
The Jaguars have lost 1,240 snaps and 96 receptions from 2020 with Keelan Cole, Chris Conley, and Dede Westbrook all becoming free agents at the start of the league season. The Jaguars were always going to have to invest in the ride receiver room this offseason, and considering the youth of their in-house receivers (one fourth-year player and two second-year players), it makes sense that the Jaguars targeted a veteran.
Since Jones entered the NFL in 2012, he has missed just 18 games. Only 16 receivers have appeared in more games than Jones since 2012, while only eight players have more touchdowns.
In the last two seasons alone, only five players have caught more touchdowns than Jones, who recorded 138 catches on 206 targets for 1,757 yards (12.7 yards per catch) and 18 in two seasons in Bevell's offense. By comparison, DJ Chark is the only Jaguars receiver with double-digit touchdowns in the last two seasons with 13.
Considering Bevell knows Jones well and has seen the veteran produce at a highly efficient level over the last two seasons, it is little surprise to see the Jaguars opt to pair the eight-year veteran with the veteran coordinator.
In terms of where Jones will actually play, he is like Laviska Shenault and Chark in the sense that he can play both on the outside and in the slot. He played about 25% of his snaps in the slot last season, according to Pro Football Focus, so there is a chance for the Jaguars to deploy him to fill in for the departing Cole in some sense.
Overall, Jones gives the Jaguars a veteran receiver who is still producing at a solid level. He isn't the speed threat that Meyer said he wanted to add, but he replaces Cole and Conley in terms of veteran receivers in the locker room, and he has been more productive than either of those players throughout his career.
Jones also gives the Jaguars a safe target for their incoming rookie quarterback. Their receiver group didn't struggle with drops to a large degree in 2020, but Jones is a reliable option that a rookie quarterback can trust and lean on when the bullets begin to fly.
Impact on depth chart
This is where things will be interesting. Jones will have a smooth transition to Jacksonville thanks to the Bevell factor, but the Jaguars do have two young dynamic receivers in Chark and Shenault who were already set to play big roles in 2020.
If the season opened today, it would make sense for the Jaguars to start Chark and Jones on the outside and start Shenault in the slot, with all three spending some time at each alignment. Add in Collin Johnson as a backup on the outside, and this gives the Jaguars a good amount of flexibility heading into the NFL Draft in April.
The Jaguars still need to add a speed receiver because Jamal Agnew's value to the offense is more so hypothetical at the moment, but they could feasibly enter Week 1 with this wide receiver group and feel good about their starters, no matter how they are deployed.
The Jaguars should be expected to add another wide receiver in the draft (potentially even with the No. 25 overall pick), but Jones' place on the depth chart is also secure. He is automatically the highest-paid receiver on the roster and while he may not play 90% of the offensive snaps like he did last season, it should still be expected that he has a sizeable role in the Jaguars' offense.
Overall grade: A-.
If Jones was more of a big-play threat, this would be an A+ and one of the best signings in the league this season. With that said, there are no real holes to pick in this signing aside from the fact that Jones isn't the speed receiver many projected. Even if he isn't that type of receiver, he still offers immense value on and off the field to a young receiver room.
Considering the deals that receivers are getting with other teams, it is hard not to think the Jaguars got a steal in Jones. He is a safe target with a nose for the end zone and Bevell knows exactly how to utilize his talent. He is exactly the type of addition the Jaguars should be looking to make, and the value could look even better by the time the season rolls around.
All in all, this was a smart move by the Jaguars' front office. If they can pair a rookie receiver with Jones as their additions to that position, you could argue they found much better value than teams who spent heavily on receivers this offseason.