While the Jacksonville Jaguars didn't take many apparent major swings in the first offseason of the Urban Meyer and Trent Baalke era, the numbers say a bit differently.
The Jaguars were busy in free agency and the NFL Draft, signing players such as Shaquill Griffin, Rayshawn Jenkins and Roy Robertson-Harris and spending big on draft picks like Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. And while the Jaguars didn't get any of the marquee free agents or sign any player to eye-popping numbers, the Jaguars will still close out the 2021 offseason as one of the NFL's biggest spendings.
According to Spotrac, the Jaguars spent the fourth-most money this offseason in terms of total contract values, with the final figure coming out to $297,019,991. The only teams in front of the Jaguars in terms of total cash spent are the 49ers, Patriots and Cowboys, though the Cowboys are only ranked so highly due to Dak Prescott's eye-boggling contract extension.
When breaking it down just by guaranteed money, the Jaguars still finished fourth at $166,058,259, reflecting the Jaguars spent not just in an overall sense, but in terms of locked-in money as well.
The bulk of the Jaguars' spending came from their 22 additions in March and beyond. Among the 22 free agent deals the Jaguars finalized this offseason, the Jaguars guaranteed $90,585,000 -- the second-most among all teams. Only the New England Patriots, who signed 29 free agents, guaranteed more money to free agents.
In short, the Jaguars spent big this offseason in terms of bringing in outside talent, even if the messaging from the team didn't quite match with this. The Jaguars emphasized value throughout free agency, and were even a bit slow to get into the fray and start striking deals, but the team still spent more on their group of outside free agents than one may presume.
"We’re looking at a lot of different positions and a lot of different players and the key word there was value. We’re looking for value," Baalke said in March.
"That isn’t always the most expensive player. There’s all different levels of ‘like.’ When we say we like a player, to what level and what value do we place on him? So, that’s going to be critical as we build this team out moving forward is making sure we get the value of the position and the player correct.”
While value is a key phrase for the Jaguars, and while the Jaguars only truly spent big money on three signings, the Jaguars still can not lean on the notion that they didn't spend big in Meyer's first season as helm.
The Jaguars can likely be expected to continue to spend in future offseasons, though the spending may look different than in 2020. As opposed to spreading the money out, the Jaguars may be more inclined to try to land a big fish in free agency once they are firmly set in the ways of their new regime.
"Unfortunately, you can’t fly the guys in like the old days and I can’t wait for that to come back. So, you’re talking about organizational decisions made by people there’s chances we have not spent much time with them, and to be honest with you, I don’t feel great about that," Meyer said in March ahead of free agency.
"I feel great about the coaches that have done their work behind the scenes digging up or else have had previous experience with them coaching them in the room. We’re probably going to lean on [them] more in that scenario, so I’ve hired a bunch of guys from the NFL that have NFL experience. If they’ve had [experience with] them, I feel much better about someone we just don’t know.”
Aside from spending on free agents, the Jaguars also spent quite a chunk of change on their draft class, in large part to No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and his rookie deal.
According to Spotrac, the Jaguars no team spent more on their draft class than the Jaguars, with the Jaguars spending over $20 more million in guaranteed than the next closest team. With nine overall picks, including two in the first round and four in the first 45 picks, the Jaguars ranked first both in total cash ($87,572,491) and guaranteed money ($62,843,259), according to Spotrac.
Will the Jaguars' spending result in wins in 2021 and beyond? That remains to be seen. What doesn't remain to be seen is the type of strategy the Jaguars have taken, at least in the first year of Meyer and Baalke.