No one expected the Jaguars to finish 3-13 this year, but here we are.
The season is over and no one can really walk away from it thinking “OK, so here’s a list of positives to take away from the 2016 season”. But, if there are any positives to take away, it’s some of the additions the team made in the 2016 offseason.
So, since free agency came first, I’ll start the 2017 Jaguars’ offseason off by grading the team’s 2016 free agency class!
Jackson was signed to five year/$85.5 million deal last March as a top-tier free agent, and has been worth every dime.
Jackson set a career high for sacks with 6.5 this year in his first year as a Jaguar, but his most valuable skill is creating pressure for outside edge rushers to get to the QB — which he did consistently. Jackson’s talent as a pressure creator was a huge factor in rookie edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue’s rookie year success.
Jackson also plugged holes in the interior run game well. All in all, he was a factor in every aspect of the Jaguars heavily improved defense.
Ivory’s season was filled with injuries and a horrible run-blocking offensive line that made his five year/$32 million contract look silly.
However, I still see a lot in Ivory’s game that can lead to success next year. When he was on the field this year (11 games), I saw Ivory find success on bursting outside and making solid cuts when in a decent amount of space. After Nathaniel Hackett was promoted to offensive coordinator and made tweaks to the run game, Ivory averaged just over four yards per carry in six games, while averaging almost 13 carries per game.
The offensive line needs to be heavily upgraded, so until that’s done I won’t label Ivory as a bust. However, considering his fumbling issues — five this year — and how he didn’t produce much, without considering the offensive line’s play — he gets an average grade.
Gipson was one of the most hyped players coming into the season for the Jaguars and was a major disappointment at free safety. Other than his one interception against the Ravens, Gipson’s name was normally called on a dropped interception or making a mistake in coverage.
Gipson made comments after the final game that he was misused by the coaching staff this year, so I’m curious to see how he performs next year if the jaguars scheme is changed. But for now, the 2016 season was a disappointment for Gipson.
I was disappointed by Prince Amukamara’s play this season, unlike others. I think he was picked apart week in and week out by opposing teams because Jalen Ramsey was shutting down the opposite side of the field.
I’ve seen “He’s being picked on because Ramsey is good” as an excuse a lot, but that shouldn’t even be a thought in your head to defend Prince. Good 2nd cornerbacks won’t get picked on like Prince was, even if the opposite cornerback is an All-Pro.
I won’t give Prince a miserable grade because he was only signed to a one year/$5 million contract, but the production wasn’t there for him to be considered a free agency hit and he really didn’t impress me whatsoever.
Beachum was rushed into playing this season, coming off of a torn ACL in the middle of the 2015 season with Pittsburgh. However, once he made it onto the field, Beachum held his own at the position. He allowed only four sacks all year.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Beachum performs after a healthy offseason, but for now I’ll give him a slightly above average grade. He played fairly well as the Jaguars left tackle.
Nortman honestly competes with Malik Jackson for the most impressive free agency signing this past offseason. He replaced Bryan Anger, who was no good in his four years in Jacksonville, and averaged nearly 47 yards per punt.
Nortman rarely out-kicked his coverage, which was Anger’s biggest flaw. All in all, Nortman was worth the four year/$8 million contract he signed last March.
Bernadeau was brought in to compete for a starting position at guard, but had a miserable training camp and preseason and was released before the regular season started.
Overall, I’d give this free agency class a B-. While Caldwell hit on three signees in Jackson, Nortman, and Beachum — the most amount of hits Caldwell has ever had in a free agency class — guys like Gipson and Ivory have a lot they need to improve on next season.
How would you grade the Jaguars 2016 free agency class?