Now that the dust has settled and the tags have been handed down, we can really focus on what the Jacksonville Jaguars can and should do during the 2016 NFL free agent season. As we all know, the Jaguars have the most cap space in the NFL with just over $74 million in cap room, which means there isn't a free agent they cannot afford if they really want them. The usual suspects were handed the franchise tags on Tuesday prior to the deadline, guys like Eric Berry, Josh Norman and Von Miller, all people we suspected would not hit the open market.
We now know officially who is actually going to be available for teams like the Jaguars to sign, so here are five targets I think the Jaguars should go after and are realistic. I could make a dream wish list, but I'm trying to keep my toes in reality a bit with this list, so bear that in mind.
Bruce Irvin, OLB: The former Seattle Seahawks SLB/pass rusher should be someone the Jaguars are aggressive with in free agency and already someone rumored they will be. Irvin could slot right into the OTTO/SLB role on the Jaguars defense as an overall and pass rushing upgrade. Irvin can play the run, is good enough in coverage and can provide an option rushing the passer as a blitzer or with his hand on the ground in certain packages. It's expected he'll end up with either the Atlanta Falcons or the Jaguars, both of which are coached by his former defensive coordinators.
Janoris Jenkins, CB: The Los Angeles Rams (still weird) were always going to lose one of Jenkins or Trumaine Johnson this offseason and they ended up keeping the better overall corner of the two. Some might have reservations with Jenkins because of his past, but he's steered clear of trouble while in the NFL and is a play making corner the Jaguars desperately need. Despite what he thinks, I wouldn't label Jenkins a shutdown corner, but he is someone who forces turnovers and makes big plays, which is something the Jaguars defense is lacking. He seems to be the perfect compliment opposite Davon House.
Robert Ayers, DE: Ayers has kind of come into his own as a steady pass rusher since breaking his "draft bust" label with the Denver Broncos and played well for the New York Giants last year with Jason Pierre-Paul out with the hand injury. Ayers should be able to slot right in as a rotational option at the LEO spot with Dante Fowler and wouldn't preclude the Jaguars from drafting another pass rusher in the NFL Draft.
Chris Ivory, RB: A lot of people think the Jaguars need to add to their running back group and I'd be inclined to agree. That's nothing against TJ Yeldon, who I think is good and very capable, but adding in someone like Chris Ivory can give you a reliable back up who can carry the load for some series and give Yeldon amble rest. Ivory is also a good option on the goal line, an area the Jaguars really struggled with. I think upgrading the RB group in free agency is a much better option than spending a draft pick doing so.
Jeff Allen, OL: It was reported on Thursday the Jaguars were interested in the former Kansas City Chiefs guard and it makes perfect sense if they want to move either AJ Cann or Brandon Linder to center long-term. Allen has only started nine games for the Chiefs the past two years, but they also have a deep talented offensive line. He's a guy who can play both four of the five spots on the offensive line, including left tackle if really necessary.
Some people might wonder why I don't have someone like Olivier Vernon, Malik Jackson, Eric Weddle, Teshaun Gipson, George Iloka etc. on my list. Again, I wanted to make this list a realistic one to who I think the team can and should be signing. I believe the market for someone like Weddle and Gipson isn't going to be as heavy as people think and both will be second wave, cheaper free agent signings. Weddle because of his age and Gipson because of his injury history and the fact he's only been really good for basically a single season. Jackson I think ends up being a priority target for someone like the Oakland Raiders, who have loads of cap space as well and needs help on the interior of the line. Iloka I would love for the Jaguars to get, but I think he's going to be the top safety on the market and there will be a lot of competition for his services.
On the Vernon case, I do think the Jaguars will be interested but I think he's going to end up similar to Alex Mack when he got the transition tag, in that teams will slow play it because they can't tie up potential cap room waiting on a deal since the Miami Dolphins have the option to match. The Jaguars on the other hand can afford to do that if they wish, so he's someone to definitely keep an eye on.