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2017 Jaguars free agency: The case for and against Julius Thomas

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We ran a poll last week asking if you thought the Jacksonville Jaguars would have Julius Thomas on their roster for opening day of the 2017 NFL season. The results were a lot closer than I imagined they would be.

1,405 of you voted — 53% said Thomas would be on the roster, 47% said he wouldn’t.

There seems to be a polarizing view of Thomas who had (justifiably) high expectations coming in two years ago, but who has failed to live up to those expectations. After flourishing with the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, Thomas has started just 17 games in two years and racked up 76 receptions for 736 yards and nine touchdowns.

For a guy who signed a five-year, $46 million deal with $24 million guaranteed, that’s... well, it’s not good.

Can some of Thomas’ disappointing production be tied to legitimate factors like having Blake Bortles as a quarterback and injuries? Sure. But let’s not sugar coat this — Thomas was signed to be a playmaker and while showing flashes, he has been little more than a role player.

But does that mean the Jaguars should just up and cut him?

The case for keeping Julius Thomas

Tom Coughlin and the restructured front office means everyone is getting a fresh start, and that includes Thomas — who will undoubtedly be used more effectively for what he is with new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Gone are the days of the 5-yard curl up-field. Well, hopefully they’re gone.

And the salary cap savings are negligible. We have tens of millions in surplus as it stands. The Jaguars aren’t a good enough team yet to be cutting guys who are still in the top half of the team in terms of quality just because they’re overpaid.

Thomas should not be looked at as a guy who will throw up double-digit scores in a given year, but if Thomas can be used more effectively and if we can temper our expectations we’ll be pleased with what we have (even if we paid too much for him).

The case for cutting Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas has been everything you fear a high-priced free agent will be when your team signs him: lazy, ineffective, and injury-prone. Newly hired Tom Coughlin will look for a sacrificial lamb to make a point about his culture and his way of doing things and Thomas is on a short list of guys who would be perfect to complete the task.

The culture is bad here in Jacksonville. Gus Bradley let it become one of the worst in the NFL. Winning isn’t everything. Getting better is everything. Losing happens, I guess. How is Coughlin and this new coaching staff going to develop the players still worth a damn on this roster if they let guys like Thomas stay collecting checks?

And speaking of young guys — what has Thomas given you in the last two years that Neal Sterling and Ben Koyack haven’t?

The cap savings aren’t a factor, but salvage what you can from his contract and use it elsewhere.

What do you think?

Should the Jaguars let Thomas go? Or is his potential worth at least one more year in Jacksonville?