The Jacksonville Jaguars had a busy tampering period, which led to a busy afternoon on Thusday when the NFL's 2017 free agency window officially opened. While no official announcement will come from the Jaguars until the players sign their contracts sometime this weekend, the team brought in three new defensive starters in the form of A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell and Barry Church.
It was an excellent, albeit expensive, free agency haul by the Jaguars and it added players they desperately need on the defensive side of the football. It's easy to make the jokes that the team always wins the off season but can't win the regular season, but we can save that for when the regular season comes. Right now, the Jaguars needed to add good players and they did just that. I'll also add, while the team had to outbid Denver for Campbell, they did not have the highest guarantee offer or total salary offer for Bouye.
So... where do the Jaguars go from here?
Will they sign more free agents?
Yes. I don't really have any names off the top of my head or know of anyone in particular the team is interested in, but they will undoubtedly look to bring in a few more players. I don't think we will see many, if any, more big ticket free agents. They were linked to tight end Martellus Bennett, but I'm not sure they'll be willing to give out the kind of money he is looking for after what they just dished out, but if they do... more power to them. You have the money, you can spend it without much consequence. I do think we will see a focus on some special teams players, which is precisely what they're getting with something like the Lerentee McCray signing. The Jaguars new special teams coach, Joe DeCamillis, is familiar with McCray from his time with the Denver Broncos and he's viewed as a very good special teamer. That's been an area the team really wants to improve, considering it was one of the biggest disaster areas over the past four seasons. Those will likely be the types of signings that come next, as well as potential depth.
What happened with offensive line?!
A lot of people seem to be concerned with the Jaguars "missing out" on the likes of Kevin Zeitler, Ron Leary, Larry Warford, JC Tretter and AJ Lang, but as I mentioned a few days ago, I'm not. The Jaguars were really only ever in on Zeitler, and once it appeared he was going to bring in the kind of contract he eventually got from the Cleveland Browns, the Jaguars backed off. That's why I put missing out in quotations, because they didn't really go hard after anyone at the position. While the team does need help on the interior of the offensive line, they know that the real need after bringing in Branden Albert is at the guard position, which typically is a position that teams can find. The Jaguars also like a lot of the depth players they have like Luke Bowanko, Tyler Shatley, Chris Reed and Patrick Omameh. All four can play the guard position, but something to keep in the back of your mind is the idea of Bowanko playing the center position with Linder kicking back to one of the guard spots. I'm not saying that will happen, but I'm just saying keep an eye out. It's also likely the Jaguars end up picking one or more offensive lineman in the 2017 NFL Draft.
What does this mean for the draft?
As much as I hate to say it, right now to me it screams out Leonard Fournette. I don't need to go into it again, but I am a firm believer in not drafting running backs in the Top 10 unless they are a truly special talent, and even then I'm not really a fan of doing so. You have to remember though, Tom Coughlin loves backs like Fournette. We always want to remember Fred Taylor or Tiki Barber with Coughlin because they had the most success, but you also have to remember he also picked guys like Natrone Means, James Stewart, wanted Curtis Enis, Brandon Jacobs, Andre Williams, etc.
In my personal opinion though, I think the smart thing for the Jaguars to do would to still be taking someone like Solomon Thomas at the No. 4 spot and thinking about running back in the second or third round, because the class is so deep. Something else to think about, and not necessarily at the No. 4 spot, is Cam Robinson. A scenario where Robinson comes in as a rookie and plays guard before kicking outside to left or right tackle in the future is something to be mindful of.
What does the salary cap look like now?
The Jaguars handed out two massive deals to Bouye and Campbell, respectively, and a moderate deal to Barry Church. The team started the day with roughly $77 million in salary cap space, and just taking the average per year as the cap hit in the 2017 season for those contracts, it leaves the Jaguars with roughly $37 million in remaining cap space. Which, is more than enough to sign another big deal if they really want to. It's likely those cap hits will end up a lot different than just the standard average per season, as the Jaguars have seemed to prefer to load deals in the first two years to go ahead and knock out the guaranteed portion.
Regardless, the teams till has plenty of cap space in 2017 and going forward, so it's not really anything to be worried about.