Which Pending Offensive Free Agents With Jay Gruden Ties Could the Jaguars Pursue?

John Shipley

With a new offensive scheme about to be implemented for the second consecutive season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are set to reshape their offensive roster and bring in players who can excel in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's scheme.

The crux of the Jaguars' offense will likely remain the same, such as quarterbacks Gardner Minshew II and Nick Foles, running back Leonard Fournette, wide receiver DJ Chark, and a few returning offensive linemen. But the depth of the unit will likely see a facelift as Gruden meshes his offensive philosophies with the Jaguars' current arsenal of weapons and blockers.

Due to Gruden's extensive experience in the NFL over the past decade, with stints as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator and Washington's head coach, there are several players throughout the league with Gruden ties who we have seen in the veteran coach's offense.

Among those players are a few set to hit free agency in the coming months. While Gruden transitions his West Coast offense to Jacksonville, a few of said players would make sense for the Jaguars to pursue on the open market to ease the transition.

So, which pending offensive free agents with Gruden ties could the Jaguars potentially pursue? We identified a few:

OL Brandon Scherff

Drafted by Washington with the fifth overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, Brandon Scherff has had stretches of play where he looked like he belonged in the conversation as one of the top guards in the NFL. Scherff has dealt with injuries over the last two seasons, missing 13 games (including eight in 2018), but the talent that made him a top pick coming out of Iowa is clearly still there. Washington could always work out a new deal with the veteran interior lineman, but until then he will be regarded as one of the best players available for teams who need to revamp their offensive lines. 

RB Wendell Smallwood

Fifth-year running back Wendell Smallwood only spent five games with Gruden after Washington claimed him on waivers before Week 1 in 2019. Gruden was, of course, fired after an 0-5 start, but Smallwood still makes sense for the Jaguars as a stylistic fit. Smallwood excels as a passing-down back due to his ability to block and catch out of the backfield (56 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns in career). He is a different type of running back than Fournette and Ryquell Armstead, and would add some versatility on the depth chart.

TE Tyler Eifert

Playing in Gruden's offense in Cincinnati in his rookie season in 2013, tight end Tyler Eifert has dealt with injuries throughout his career (53 career missed games), but he did well in his lone season with Gruden. After being drafted 21st overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Bengals, Eifert recorded 39 catches for 445 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie, flashing the talent that would eventually make him one of the most highly regarded tight ends in the league during his peak. He isn't the same dominant player he was early on his career, but he could help the Jaguars' depth issues at tight end.

WR Josh Doctson 

Another first-round pick in Washington during Gruden's tenure, Josh Docston (22nd overall selection in 2016 NFL Draft) never met expectations and would find himself cut before the 2019 season. Doctson played in only two games in his rookie season, but was a big part of Gruden's offense in 2017 and 2018, catching 79 passes for 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns. He isn't anything more than a depth player at this point in his career, but he has a familiarity with what Gruden does on offense and would give the Jaguars more size at wideout.

RB Chris Thompson

A true space back, Chris Thompson would give the Jaguars an element at running back they realistically haven't had in several years. An explosive offensive chess piece, Thompson was a favorite of Gruden in Washington throughout most of his tenure. He caught more than 35 passes and recorded 240 more receiving yards and a touchdown in all but his first season in Gruden's offense. He isn't an every-down player, but he is the type of running back the Jaguars are missing on the roster and Gruden's connection with him is too obvious to ignore.

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