The Jacksonville Jaguars were expected to spend a lot of money in free agency in the 2016 NFL offseason, which they did, the majority of the big money being spend on defensive tackle Malik Jackson. The Jaguars gave Jackson a six-year deal for roughly $90 million dollars, which was met with a lot of criticism by pundits and even Jaguars fans. Jackson received criticism early on when people were just checking box scores and looking at sacks, but I’m not sure you could ask anyone at this point who thinks Jackson was a free agent bust.
Free agency is always a sketchy affair that you always end up over spend and Jackson may not ever be actually worth the $90 million contract he signed, but after the first season Jackson looks like a bargain. He ended the season with a career high in sacks, 6.5, and was a big reason rookie defensive end Yannick Ngakoue broke the Jaguars rookie sack record with 8 sacks on the season.
Jackson was consistently a disruptive force in the opposing team’s backfield for the Jaguars and it doesn’t appear like he’s going to be slowing down, as he got better as the season rolled on.
Obviously the Jaguars will have a new coaching staff for the start of the 2017 season and likely a new defensive scheme, but the beauty of a player like Jackson is that he’s scheme versatile. He can play as an undertackle in a traditional 4-3 defense, a pass rushing three-technique in a defense like the Jaguars and he can even play 3-4 defensive end if the team ended up making a switch to a different front.
People are always scared of spending big money in free agency, rightfully so, but sometimes you knock it out of the park.