Who Are the Jaguars’ 5 Biggest Free Agency Misses Since 2013?
With the 2020 free agency cycle set to begin on Mar. 18, it is time to take a trip down memory lane and reflect the successes and failures of past Jacksonville Jaguars' free agency classes.
The Jaguars have been far from shy when it comes to writing big checks for other team's veterans since Dave Caldwell took over as general manager in 2013, with all but a few offseasons featuring the Jaguars signing one of the largest free agents in any given class.
Like any team, the Jaguars have swung and missed during the free agency period in recent years, but they have also hit home runs at times, which we covered yesterday. In this edition, we will look at some of the biggest misses during the Caldwell-era.
Most of Caldwell and the Jaguars' best free agency signings have come on the defensive side of the ball, but they haven't been nearly as successful when addressing the offense. It isn't due to a lack of trying, however, as the Jaguars have gone out of their way countless times over the years to attempt to rebuild inept offenses via free agency.
So, who are the five biggest misses by the Jaguars during the free agency period since 2013? We broke down our list.
5) RB Chris Ivory
Contract: Five-year, $32 million contract with $10 million in guarantees.
Stats with Jaguars: 25 games played. 229 carries for 821 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. 41 receptions for 361 yards and one touchdown.
Overall: After signing a big contract with the Jaguars, Chris Ivory only started four games in two seasons in Jacksonville and was largely an afterthought during his time with the team. He had 229 carries for 821 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and four touchdowns, and became a costly backup once Jacksonville spent the fourth overall selection on Leonard Fournette in 2017. He was signed to create a strong backfield duo with T.J. Yeldon, but he simply never got his footing in the offense.
4) DL Jared Odrick
Contract: Five-year, $42.5 million contract with $22.5 million in guarantees.
Stats with Jaguars: 22 games played. 6.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles.
Overall: Signed to be Jacksonville's new "big end" in Gus Bradley's 4-3 scheme, Jared Odrick had a forgettable two years in Jacksonville and ultimately didn't play again once the team released him before the 2017 season. He had 5.5 sacks in his first season, but played in only six games in 2016. He had flashes, but ultimately was never the playmaker that his contract suggested he should have been, and the team got a major upgrade when they inked Calais Campbell to a big contract to replace Odrick in 2017.
3) OG Zane Beadles
Contract: Five-year, $30 million contract with $13 million in guarantees.
Stats with Jaguars: 32 games played and started. Six penalties.
Overall: Zane Beadles was one of Caldwell's first-ever big free agent signings, joining the team in 2014 after four years of starting at left guard for Denver. Beadles doesn't find himself on this list because of his contract since $13 million in guarantees is rather small in comparison to others on this list, but because of his below-average play. Instead of being a bright spot along the offensive line, Beadles was one of the main issues for the Jaguars' offense from 2014 to 2015. He only spent two years on the roster, and the offensive line ultimately improved substantially in the following seasons without him.
2) QB Nick Foles
Contract: Four-year. $88 million contract with $45 million in guarantees.
Stats with Jaguars: Four games. 77/117 passing (65.8%) for 736 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Overall: We know, we know -- after 2019, most would expect for Foles to land at No. 1 on this list. The reason he isn't is that, so far, he has only spent one year on the roster. With that said, his 2019 was such a poor return on investment for the Jaguars that he has to be considered near the top of this list regardless of the sample size. He signed the largest contract in team history but was outplayed by 2019 sixth-round draft pick Gardner Minshew II at nearly every turn, which led to him being benched for the final few games of the season. Foles will have a chance to compete for the starting job in 2020, but as of now, the signing is a black mark on the team's free agency history.
1) TE Julius Thomas
Contract: Five-year, $46 million contract with $24 million in guarantees.
Stats with Jaguars: 21 games. 76 catches for 736 yards and nine touchdowns.
Overall: Perhaps Caldwell's biggest free agent splash at the time he was signed, Julius Thomas failed to put it together in Jacksonville and become a reliable target for a developing Blake Bortles. He dealt with a rash of injuries throughout his tenure, but also looked considerably less dynamic athletically in Jacksonville than he did in Denver. The highest-paid tight end when he signed, Thomas was traded to the Dolphins after only two seasons into a five-year contract. Thomas was signed to be the Jaguars' most lethal offensive weapon, but was instead overshadowed by Marcedes Lewis and failed to leave an impression more often than not.