The Jacksonville Jaguars have been busy in the last week. They’re reportedly sending tight end Julius Thomas to the Miami Dolphins for a late-round draft pick in 2017. Simultaneous to that, they are reportedly bringing left tackle Branden Albert over for a late-round draft pick in 2018. All the while they re-signed Abry Jones, Chad Henne, Arrelious Benn, Tyler Shatley, Josh Wells while releasing Jared Odrick and Kelvin Beachum.
It all looks like a setup to sign their biggest free agent in years — Jason Pierre-Paul — because everything the Jaguars have done so far would support a big splash in free agency, specifically at defensive end.
Odrick, their starting defensive end, is gone. Who’s going to play opposite Yannick Ngakoue? Dante Fowler? Nope. Chris Smith? Doubtful. Tyson Alualu? No. Odrick was never going to be the guy opposite Ngakoue but now their roster definitely doesn’t have the answer. Where else but free agency does this team address that issue?
Cap space was never an issue, but by getting rid of Odrick the Jaguars have a little under $75 million in cap space, according to OverTheCap.com. That doesn’t include the savings they’ll see when they offload Thomas, but it also doesn’t include Branden Albert’s salary. They’ve got the money to make a run at several free agents — and Pierre-Paul is going to be one they’ll likely have to “overpay” to get here. It’s the nature of free agency. They did it last year with Malik Jackson, who turned out to be a great addition to the team.
And, finally, the Coughlin connection can’t be overlooked. Pierre-Paul played for Coughlin in every one of his seasons except for the last one. And Pierre-Paul respects Coughlin, defending him publicly when rumors wouldn’t die down during the end of his last year with the New York Giants.
The Giants will inevitably make a strong push for Pierre-Paul, but with Olivier Vernon also on the payroll it’ll be a little easier for the Jaguars bankroll the most coveted defensive end in this year’s free agency.
Don’t call Tom Coughlin too old just yet.