5 Free Agent WRs the Jaguars Could Target to Help Rebuild Passing Offense
As the Jacksonville Jaguars gear up for the 2020 offseason, they have a number of serious needs that will need to be addressed to make improvements from last year's 6-10 record a possibility.
One of those needs which have gone a bit under the radar is wide receiver, a spot that has been an issue for the Jaguars since Allen Robinson's ACL injury in 2017. DJ Chark had a breakout season in his sophomore year in 2019, catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns and making the Pro Bowl, but the Jaguars were up-and-down at wideout behind Chark.
Chris Conley had the best statistical season of his career, recording 47 catches for 775 yards and five touchdowns, but he had bouts of inconsistency that should make the Jaguars wary of giving him a clear pathway to the No. 2 wide receiver job. Dede Westbrook had high expectations entering the season, but offensive coordinator John DeFilippo failed to carve out a role for him in the offense and he also struggled with drops at times.
For Gardner Minshew II to take the next step in his development or for Nick Foles to put his disastrous 2019 season behind him, the Jaguars will need to strengthen their wide receiver depth in an effort to improve the passing offense in 2020.
While this is the deepest wide receiver draft class in some time, the Jaguars could always turn to a cheap veteran option to round out the depth of the position like they did when they signed Conley last season. Which available wide receivers would fit this mold?
Jacksonville signed Conley from the potent Kansas City Chiefs' offense last year, so could they go back to the well this offseason for Demarcus Robinson? Robinson, who will be 26 during the 2020 season, is a former fourth-round pick who is obviously not high in the pecking order in Kansas City considering they have Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce, but he is a speed vertical threat who has the capability to generate big plays. Over the last two seasons, Robinson has caught 54 passes for 737 yards and eight touchdowns, good for 13.6 yards per catch. It is unclear how he would perform in an expanded role, but he is a solid depth player.
After many presumed the Jaguars would pursue Randall Cobb in the 2015 offseason, this would give general manager Dave Caldwell a second crack at reeling in the versatile veteran. Cobb will be 30 in 2020 and isn't the game-changer he once was, but he still had a solid season for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, indicating he has something left in the tank. In 15 games (six starts) Cobb caught 55 passes for 828 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and three touchdowns. Cobb is best suited for the slot, so he would give new offensive coordinator Jay Gurden an insurance policy for any potential Westbrook struggles.
A former first-round draft bust with the Baltimore Ravens, Breshad Perriman had the best year of his four-year career with Tampa Bay in 2019 despite having to share the field with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The athletic and big-bodied wideout (6-foot-2, 215-pounds), caught 36 passes for 645 yards (17.9 yards per catch) and six touchdowns despite being the Buccaneers' third pass-catching option at best. He fits the mold of tall and speedy receivers the Jaguars have shown an affinity for, and he may be able to continue to elevate his game if given a larger role. He has a higher ceiling than Chris Conley, and potentially a higher floor as well.
Rashard Higgins won't turn 26 until the middle of the 2020 season, so he still has time to realize the potential he showed early in his career with the Cleveland Browns. In 13 games in 2018, Higgins caught 39 passes for 572 yards (14.7 yards per catch) and four touchdowns, demonstrating an ability to win downfield as well as be dangerous after the catch. He is a lot like Keelan Cole, whose chances to be on the roster in 2020 are up in the air.
The youngest player on this list, Kendrick Bourne will be 25 during the 2020 season and has played in an offense in San Francisco that isn't too dissimilar from Gruden's. Bourne caught 30 passes for 358 yards (11.9 yards per catch) and five touchdowns in 2019, and was a major part of the 49ers' success in the red-zone and on third downs. These are two areas the Jaguars struggled in last year, so a technically sound wideout like Bourne would be a sensible addition.