Should the Jaguars Consider Making an Offer for 49ers RB Raheem Mostert?
Yet another enticing offensive talent has made himself available on the trade market, once again leading to the question of whether the Jacksonville Jaguars should be interesting in boosting their offense before the season begins.
Earlier this month, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku requested a trade out of the AFC North, and it appears San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert has followed a similar path and wants a way off of Kyle Shanahan's team.
"After months of unproductive talks with the 49ers about fairly adjusting Raheem Mostert's contract (which paid him for special teams) we have requested a trade. Disappointing that it would come to this for a guy who led all NFL RBs in YPC & helped lead them to the Super Bowl," tweeted Mostert's agent, Brett Tessler.
So with another talented and emerging offensive talent now likely available for trade, should the Jaguars be interested enough to at least make a concrete offer to the 49ers?
It is a fair question to ask considering a few factors, such as Jacksonville's lack of playmakers and the future of its running back position. Just based off talent alone, Mostert does deserve some consideration after he was a revelation for the 49ers in Shanahan's running scheme, becoming one of the key pieces toward the 49ers' march to the Super Bowl.
Mostert, who turned 28 in April, recorded 772 yards and eight touchdowns on just 137 carries last season. He then dominated in the postseason, rushing 53 times for 336 yards and five touchdowns. As All49ers publisher Grant Cohn pointed out, there is a good chance the 49ers don't even make it to their Super Bowl clash vs. the Kansas City Chiefs without the play of Mostert down the stretch.
"Mostert signed a three-year extension with the 49ers in 2019 that pays him $2.9 million per season—it's a special-teams contract, as his agent pointed out. He had just 42 career carries before last season. But midway through the 2019 season, he became the 49ers lead running back and led the NFL in yards per carry with 5.6. He was one of the main reasons the 49ers went to the Super Bowl; they might not have made it had he not run for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the NFC championship game against the Packers," Cohn wrote.
Just off talent alone, it would make sense for the Jaguars to consider Mostert. He is athletic, can contribute in both the run and pass game, and he has experience, albeit a limited one, as a team's lead back. While he is an older back, he only has 178 career carries so, theoretically, there is less wear and tear on his body compared to other backs. In comparison, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette recorded 265 carries last season alone.
Fournette's presence could be one hindrance to any trade for Mostert considering he is set to once again be Jacksonville's workhorse back. There might not be enough carries to go around in the Jaguars' backfield to justify a trade for Mostert, even if he can likely be had for a fifth-round pick or later, much like Matt Brieda was.
While there could be an argument to make for Mostert over Fournette in any pecking order due to Mostern's far superior efficiency in 2019, it is unlikely the Jaguars would want to essentially punt the last year of Fournette's rookie contract with the team. The fourth-year running back does have a murky future, however, which could play a role in any trade scenarios moving forward.
Jacksonville declined Fournette's fifth-year option earlier this offseason and reportedly attempted to trade him around the time of the 2020 NFL Draft, so it is fair to assume the team does not see Fournette in their plans past this fall. Therefore they could make a deal for Mostert, or any other running back, in hopes of finding a starter in 2021 without having to make another investment.
Chances are that Mostert is not seeking any sort of game-changing contract for a running back, but is instead wanting to be compensated like the other top backs on San Francisco's roster. Because of this, the factor of his pay is more or less a moot point, even for a team like the Jaguars who have had to pay close attention to their cap space.
With that said, it needs to be considered how much of Mostert's production was the result of a running scheme that has churned out productive running backs and how much of it was due to his own merit. The Jaguars like their depth at running back with Ryquell Armstead, Devine Ozigbo and Chris Thompson, so the team could always envision the position as a 2021 need and not a 2020 need.
"I think maybe it's misunderstood of how we feel about the other guys we have in our room besides Leonard and Roc(quell Armstead) and Devine (Ozigbo)," general manager Dave Caldwell said after the Jaguars didn't draft a running back with any of their 12 picks.
"And those are two guys that as you look down, you start to get into the fourth, fifth round, and you're like, ‘Do we like these guys better than Rock and Devine?’ And the answer is really no. So we felt like we had some guys that can make the team at other positions and come in and help right away and knowing that we have those two guys that we really like."
So, should the Jaguars consider making an offer for Mostert? The optics of trading for a running back when a team is not even on track to compete for the postseason are poor to say the least, but it is undeniable that the Jaguars need a boost on offense for 2020 and beyond.
The Jaguars would likely be better off passing on losing any draft picks for Mostert, but a solution at running back in the long-term still needs to be found. Because of this, all options should be at least considered.