The Jacksonville Jaguars are gearing up for what promises to be one of their most influential offseasons in franchise history. With the No. 1 overall pick and ample draft capital—to build on a club record 12 picks from the 2020 NFL Draft—the Jags have a chance to change the face of the franchise for the future, starting this spring.
Despite the first and second-year players that will inevitably shape the roster in the coming months, there are still valuable options for the Jaguars already on the roster. With free agency set to open in just under two months (March 17) the Jags must begin to build their 2021 roster now with options from those currently in the locker room set to become FA’s this spring.
Wide receiver Chris Conley joined the Jaguars as a free agent ahead of the 2019 season. The former third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft had spent four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and came to the Jags after his original rookie contract expired. He was brought to Duval to join up with Nick Foles, a former teammate with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Over the past two seasons, Conley has become a captain, voted on by his teammates, and accumulated seven total touchdowns while averaging 623 yard on 43.5 receptions. Now he’s set to become a free agent. But should the club work to keep him in Jacksonville?
Conley is now a six-year veteran, with 2021 the chance to be his seventh season. On the youngest team in the league, that experience is invaluable. It’s a large reason he was voted on as a captain before the 2020 season. And it’s there we find the biggest benefit of resigning Chris Conley. His leadership in the locker room is incalculable. For a team that will be looking to find their identity and one that is stocked with those learning how life goes in the NFL, someone like Chris Conley can be an anchor and guiding light.
He has just shy of 2,500 yards in his six-year career thus far (2,484 total) averaging 414 a season, all dependable numbers for depth receivers. He’s been lined up at every receiver position due to versatility and was fourth amongst receivers in each receiving category.
That last part can be applied as an argument to both buy and sell. Conley is fourth amongst receivers in each receiving category. Unless you’re a WR1 or WR2 and/or a receiver with a specialty—like Shenault—being that far down the stat sheet means you’re replaceable.
The recent case of the drops Conely experienced during the 2020 season certainly doesn’t help his tenuous case. According to Pro Football Focus, Conely had five drops on his 63 targets this season. That was actually down two from the seven he had during the 2019 season.
Conley’s original deal with the Jaguars was for two years with a base salary of $805,000 in 2019 and $2,275,000 in 2020. With bonus opportunities, the full contract was worth $4,595,000 over the course of two years. As an upcoming seventh year veteran, Conley’s price tag isn’t cheap.
Between his locker room impact and experience, Chris Conley is a good piece to have on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster. However, his production can feasibly be met by a younger receiver either through the draft or free agency at a more digestible price tag.