Throwing money at problems usually never works out in the end. In the realm of the NFL, high profile free agents and draft picks makes for good fodder during March and April. Rarely does it translate to positive headlines during October and November. This spring, the Jaguars opened up the check book like few other times in team history in order to rectify the problem at the defensive line. After spending all of January saying that the team had no intentions to make a "big splash" in free agency, the Jaguars went out and grabbed Aaron Kampman to the tune of $11 million in guaranteed money. Then spending all of March saying they were going to trade down, they stayed at #10 and make a selection that was greeted with "Tyson AWhowho?!"
Although Tyson Alualu's deal hasn't been finalized, it will be worth around $18 million in guaranteed money. That's not even including other bonuses or game salary. Factoring in the remaining guaranteed money owed to DE Derrick Harvey, and it's quite apparent the Jaguars have a large chunk of their payroll in their starting defensive line.
When the Jaguars have spent money like drunken sailors before, it has usually resulted with egg all over their faces. In the late 90's, the Jaguars went out and mortgaged their future to get to the Super Bowl. Instead, high profile signings like Bryce Paup and Hardy Nickerson failed to do much of anything. Then in 2008, the front office once again drank the Kool-Aid and threw out more monopoly money to the likes of Jerry Porter and Cleo Lemon. Not to mention mortgaging their 2008 draft for Derrick Harvey.
Just two years later the Jaguars are on the verge of doing it yet again. Once Tyson Alualu signs on the dotted line, the Jaguars will have spent almost $30 million in guaranteed money this off season on two players who haven't done anything in a Jaguars uniform. Worse yet, one is coming off ACL surgery and the other has never played a down in the NFL before.
As far as getting an answer to the titular question, we won't be able to give any real answer until several months from now. I fully expect the first few weeks of the regular season to have its fair share of disappointing moments. The hype that is surrounding the two is tremendous and will only magnify any mistakes that are made. When Halloween rolls around, we'll know where those two stand. By then, we'll know how well Kampman's knee is holding up and how well Alualu will have adjusted to the pro game.
As far as Alualu goes, I do believe he'll be great in the teal and black. He's clearly a talented player who has a drive to get better, and you can't ask for more from a Top Ten pick. However, the Kampman signing does have me on edge. I just keep thinking of when the Jaguars signed Bryce Paup. The similarities are scary and certainly a cause for concern. Both were 30 year old sack artists who began to experience a decline in production. However, the general consensus was they had enough left in the tank to make it a worthwhile signing. Paup had 8 sacks in two years and still ranks as the Jaguars biggest misstep in free agency.
Simply put, the Jaguars are going all in that the unit will not only become respectable, but a strength of the team as a whole. Heading into the 2009 off season, the Jaguars wide receivers were arguably the worst unit in the NFL and by the end of 2009, was a strength of the team. However, that group's road to redemption was much different.
That unit's rebuilding was done on the cheap, both via free agency (Torry Holt) and in the draft (no one was higher than a 4th round pick.) Mike Sims-Walker was a 3rd round pick who showed a lot of potential before inevitably getting hurt.