Allen Hurns has been the subject of trade rumors this training camp, especially since his healthy scratch from the second preseason game vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Somehow, Hurns has gone from an undrafted free agent, who signed a four-year, $40 million dollar contract with the team, to no less than a year later, being subject of trade rumors. While Hurns is coming off a season plagued with injury, I find it rather strange that some people are eager to see him out the door.
I have no doubt that the Jacksonville Jaguars tested Hurns value on the market. Smart teams should always try and see what a guy is worth, especially at a position of depth. Obviously whatever they were offered, they did not feel it was worth it to them, as Hurns looks to be retained going into the season opener. I would be curious to know whether the Jaguars made the initial calls on Hurns, or if a team called to check in to see what it would take.
As of right now, Marqise Lee looks to be penciled in as the starter across from Allen Robinson. This at the least, tells us the current coaching staff prefers Lee to Hurns. I don't see it as that big of deal though, as teams last season lined up with three receivers over 66 percent of the time according to Football Outsiders.
The idea of trading Hurns bothered me a bit from the beginning. The idea that the Jaguars can count on Lee for a majority of the season is one of the reasons why. Lee has struggled to stay healthy during his tenure with the Jaguars, battling soft tissue injuries off and on. Last season was Lee's first full healthy season, as he played all 16 games. While I am bullish on Lee, I think relying on him to produce the season he had last year, and stay fully healthy is a risk.
Hurns has not only proven he can be a productive receiver, but he has a season in his belt already more productive than the one Lee had last year. I also think that there is nothing wrong with having three really good receivers. For the longest time the Jaguars looked for one good receiver, now they may have at least three. I also am high on Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole, so it is a pretty good problem to have.
Lee and Robinson are also In contract years, and the prospect of retaining both of them seems slim. Hurns has a favorable contract, having no guaranteed money after this season. Not only does that give the Jaguars the ability to move on from him if they deem necessary, but it could help them restructure his salary moving forward if they needed the cap room. As the Jaguars start to resign their own players (hopefully), having a salary to restructure, as the team may have less cap room, could be an important asset.
With base salaries of $7,000,000 (2017), $6,900,000 (2018), $7,900,000 (2019), and $9,500,000 (2020), Hurns has a reasonable salary through the 2020 season. With the cap steadily rising, these numbers will be increasingly valuable as contract for a receiver.
Consider two contracts that have been signed during 2017 that will help understand how value of Hurns' deal. Robert Woods signed a five-year, $39 million dollar contract with he Los Angeles Rams this offseason. Woods base salary (including his roster bonus), is $8 million over the first two years of his deal, increasingly similar to Hurns annual average value. I think we could all agree that Hurns is a much better receiver than Woods when healthy, but has a similar AAV. The No. 2 receiver market is rising as the cap does, and also as the passing game becomes an even bigger part of the game. Woods contract sets a precedent for the rest of the league of what these type of guys may get paid moving forward.
The second contract that helps set Hurns value is the shiny new deal DeAndre Hopkins got with he Houston Texans. Hopkins blew the market away, signing a five-year $81 million dollar contract. This included $51 million dollars guaranteed, which demolishes the previous high for a receiver, which was $35 million.
While we automatically think of how this will affect Robinson's market, this will also affect the market for receivers a tier below.
If Lee ends up having a good year, I'd have no doubt he would get lucrative offers if he were to reach free agency. His deal would most likely reach numbers higher than Hurns, not only because of bidding war that is free agency, but because of the cap spike between the two years the potential deals were signed (2016 and 2018).
With Robinson ready to back up the Brinks truck, or at least play under the franchise tag, Hurns' contract would actually be a decent one to have as a number two option.
Trading him also serves a risk as well. Besides Brandin Cooks, receivers haven't brought back a ton of value in trades over the years, so would a fourth or fifth round pick be enough? It is easy to say, "Just trade him for an offensive lineman" but with the current state offensive lines in the league, teams aren't giving any good guys away. When trading player for player, it can be difficult, as the Jaguars would have to find another team that needs a receiver, and also has a player at a position of need for them. Typically, teams have a lot of the same needs.
Hurns is also a proven commodity, and for a team that does not have many proven guys, the Jaguars shouldn't be looking to trade, or get rid the ones they do have.
At the end of the day, the team will only be able to pay two of Hurns, Robinson, and Lee. These decisions aren't easy, and it can be what makes or breaks front offices. This season will play a huge role in who the Jaguars will keep beyond this season. If Lee balls out, I have no problem changing my mind on this issue. If it is close to even between he and Hurns, it will be a tough decision to make.
The optics of trading Hurns would not be great either. Signing a guy to a new deal in 2016, then trading or cutting him a year later, would be a bad look for them to. Especially because Hurns is a home grown guy, who they picked up, and developed from day one.
What do you guys think? Should they still make a move with Hurns? What value do you think he is worth? And who do you think is more likely to be a Jaguar next season. Hurns or Lee? Let us know in the comments what you think.