Hays Carlyon's Jaguars Blog

The Plan: How I would fix the Jaguars

todayFebruary 22, 2022

Background

By Hays Carlyon

 

The Jaguars have won four games in the last two years combined but they aren’t a lost cause.

Quarterback is solved with Trevor Lawrence.

Head coach has certainly been upgraded from the frankly clueless Urban Meyer to Super Bowl champion Doug Pederson.

There are some promising pieces in running back James Robinson, outside linebacker Josh Allen, middle linebacker Myles Jack, center Brandon Linder, cornerback Shaq Griffin, running back Travis Etienne, cornerback Tyson Campbell, receiver Marvin Jones, defensive end Dawuane Smoot and offensive tackle Walker Little.

Not enough though.

So, let’s fix the Jaguars. The team is armed with $64 million in salary-cap space (third-highest in the NFL) with 46 players under contract (12th-most), according to spotrac.com, plus holds the first and 33rd-overall pick in the draft.

Before we start, there are some realties that we must face.

*We can’t trade out of No. 1. There’s no market, at least not yet.

*Green Bay receiver Davante Adams isn’t getting away from the Packers as a free agent.

Here are the decisions we must make.

*Do we apply a tag to anyone?

*Who do we sign in free agency?

*Who do we draft with the first two picks?

Here we go.

Do not apply the tag to anyone

The Jaguars will be better off letting left tackle Cam Robinson and receiver DJ Chark test the market. They aren’t going to re-sign this close to having 31 other teams make an offer, so the Jaguars will have to use the franchise or transition tag. The tag can only be used on one player.

The Jaguars franchise tagged Robinson last season. He’s adequate but isn’t worth a second tag.

Chark isn’t productive enough to justify a tag. He’s a great person and teammate but his production can be filled at a much lower cost.

The draft

Wait, free agency comes before the draft.

Yes, but because of the team’s draft position we can take a crystalized approach into free agency.

We’re going to take Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal first overall to fill Robinson’s void. Neal’s rookie cap number will be roughly $7.5 million, so there’s a huge savings there that can be utilized at another position like left guard.

We’re then going with a perimeter receiver at 33. Georgia’s George Pickens is highly likely to still be on the board. The 20-year-old Pickens recovered from his knee injury to play in Georgia’s last four games, making a dazzling 52-yard diving catch in the national championship victory over Alabama. As a true freshman, Pickens caught 49 passes for 727 yards and eight touchdowns. He replaces Chark at a much lower price and with more potential.

Those are the first two selections and allows us a clearer strategy in free agency.

Free agency

The Jaguars should fill four major needs here: slot receiver, edge rusher, tight end and left guard.

Arizona receiver Christian Kirk is a realistic option, coming in at around $13 million per year. The 25-year-old Kirk caught 77 passes for 982 yards with five touchdowns last season.

Kirk rounds out a receiving corps that would also feature Pickens, Jones, Laviska Shenault, Laquon Treadwell and Jamal Agnew.

Dan Arnold looks like an above average tight end but more is needed. Dallas’ Dalton Schultz should be signed at roughly the same amount as Kirk. The 25-year-old Schultz caught 78 passes for 808 yards and eight scores last season.

Lawrence now has these primary weapons to throw to: Pickens, Kirk, Schultz, Jones, Etienne, Arnold and Robinson.

The defense needs help and gets it with the signing of edge rusher Haasan Reddick at $14 million per year. The 27-year-old Reddick has recorded 23 ½ sacks with eight forced fumbles in the last two years combined.

The pass rush now has Allen, Reddick and Smoot leading the way.

The offensive line needs more than Neal, so adding a quality left guard to replace Andrew Norwell at roughly $8 million should be an emphasis. There are many to choose from but let’s go with Chicago’s James Daniels.

My idea for the line going into training camp would be: Neal (left tackle), Daniels (left guard), Linder (center), Ben Bartch (right guard) and Little (right tackle), with Jawaan Taylor as the swing tackle.

With those four free agents, the Jaguars commit $48 million. There’s still plenty of cap space to sign the draft class.

The bottom line

We’re heavy on offense, but the franchise owes it to Lawrence after putting him in the worst environment ever as a rookie. He has to be given support to develop. There are too many holes to fix in one offseason. Offense should be the priority.

Reddick certainly helps the defense and the team still has two third-round picks that could go to that side of the ball depending on who is still available.

I’m thrilled about the offensive upgrades. Lawrence will have weapons that run the right routes, get separation and can catch the ball. His protection should be better as well.

Let me know what you think.

 

(You can email Hays at haysc@1010xl.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon).

Written by: 1010admin


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todayFebruary 22, 2022