The Jacksonville Jaguars are fortunate, compared to other NFL franchises this offseason, in that the majority of their impact players are returning under contract. So, I figured we would go position by position and look ahead to the 2018 season and go over who the Jaguars have and how much they’re spending at these various positions (2018 cap hits) as we enter the true deadzone and the wait for NFL Training.
First, let’s look at the back end of the defense and the safety positions.
The Jaguars will be bringing back their 2017 starters in Barry Church (29) and Tashaun Gipson (27). I think overall, both had good, solid seasons and did what was expected of them. Church was easily an upgrade over the team’s previous strong safety and allowed the team to play some more aggressive and disguised coverage because he wasn’t as much of a liability in the passing game. Church also seemed to possess that intangible ability to always be around turnovers that Dallas Cowboys fans told us about. Gipson on the other hand I think had an underrated season that gets muddied up by his play on an injured ankle in the AFC Championship game. He got back to being that danger to intercept the ball he was when he made the Pro Bowl with the Cleveland Browns. Church and Gipson’s cap hits aren’t very big at all, at $5 million and $7.5 million respectively, so I would anticipate both back and starting in 2018.
The Jaguars didn’t get to show their depth at safety much in 2017 because they were abnormally healthy. Gipson did miss some time late when he injured his ankle in the playoffs, but second-year safety Jarrod Wilson filled in for him admirably, even making a few key pass breakups against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wilson has been someone who has stood out in training camp and the preseason, so it’s possible the Jaguars could have a future starter on their hands who is just being held back by the players in front of him. With Wilson the Jaguars added veteran Don Carey as well as drafting Ronnie Harrison in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The team also added some other young players in Cody Davis and Charlie Miller, the former of which has turned some heads in a positive way during OTA’s and mini-camp.