Much has been talked about with the quarterback position for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and for good reason. Blake Bortles and the Jaguars are expected to part ways this offseason, which has led to just about everybody and their mother predicting that the Jaguars will acquire Nick Foles through either free agency or trade. Many people also expect the Jaguars to draft a quarterback early as well — regardless of if the team does land Foles or not.
There’s no question that quarterback is the biggest priority for the Jaguars this offseason, but it’s far from the only concern on offense. The entire unit needs to be re-tooled and I would expect to see several new faces in the lineup come September.
For starters, there are many question marks at offensive line. I would say shoring up this unit is the biggest priority outside of quarterback. The o-line was absolutely decimated by injuries in 2018, and by the end of the season four of the five starters were on injured reserve. Something like 12 different offensive linemen started at one point or another for the Jaguars this season.
The right side of the line needs to be upgraded. A.J. Cann, who was the only healthy linemen left standing, has an expiring contract and it would be surprising to see the Jaguars re-sign due to his inconsistent play. Jermey Parnell has actually been pretty solid when healthy while in Duval, but he is aging and has struggled with injuries himself. Parnell has another year remaining on his deal, but it would not be too surprising to see the Jags move on from him, as the team could create $6 million in cap space by cutting him. The other three starters, Brandon Linder, Cam Robinson and Andrew Norwell will all return following injury riddled 2018 seasons. It will be interesting to see if the Jaguars make a move at left tackle either through free agency or the draft and swing Robinson over to the right side, or if they feel confident in him and keep him on the left side.
At wide receiver, it was clear that Jacksonville lacked any big-time playmakers outside of Dede Westbrook. Marqise Lee’s season ended before it even began; Keelan Cole regressed big time following a breakout rookie year and Donte Moncrief was a dud of a free agent signing. Rookie D.J. Chark didn’t get a ton of opportunities, as he dealt with some injuries and tried to adjust to the pro game. Wide out/punt returner Jaydon Mickens, who was placed on IR this past season, is an exclusive rights free agent. This means the Jaguars, if they so choose, can apply a tender to Mickens, thus giving Jacksonville exclusive negotiating rights with him. Rashad Greene and Moncrief are unrestricted free agents and I would be surprised to see either player back. I expect the Jaguars to look into veteran options in free agency, such as Golden Tate (if Philadelphia lets him walk), and also draft another rookie at the position.
Tight end is another dire spot for the Jaguars. Much like wide receiver, Jacksonville has little to no playmakers or reliable targets in this group. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was signed last offseason, but spent the majority of his time on IR. He seems to think that his time is up in Jacksonville, though the team’s PR department disputed that. The club has until Feb. 19 to pick up his player option. Still, ASJ has either already spoken to team brass or sees the writing on the wall. So he is a likely cap casualty.
Yea— A. Seferian-Jenkins (@Aesj88) January 24, 2019
Due to injuries to ASJ and Niles Paul, the Jaguars used a mixed of underwhelming options at tight end in 2018, which included names like James O’Shaughnessy, Blake Bell and Ben Koyack. O’Shaughnessy and Bell will hit the open market unrestricted free agents if the Jaguars don’t re-sign them. Koyack, a former seventh round draft choice, has spent his entire career with the Jags. He’s currently under contract for the 2020 season. This is a position group that I expect to see a lot of turnover in. I would expect the Jaguars to sign a veteran free agent or two, and look to draft another player on Day Two or Three of the NFL Draft.
Running back is another potential problem area to examine. There has been plenty of speculation that the front office has grown tired of Leonard Fournette’s antics and lack of production, and is looking to trade him this offseason. More fuel is added to this fire due to the team voiding Fournette’s remaining guarantees in his contract. Personally, I would be very surprised to see them move on from Fournette. I think the team still sees a lot of potential in him if he can stay healthy and matures some more, but I also don’t think the Jaguars will get the value they want in a trade.
But even if Fournette stays, the Jaguars still have decisions to make in the backfield. T.J. Yeldon, who actually put in a pretty solid season filling in for Fournette, is an unrestricted free agent and he’s likely to want to hit the open market. The Jaguars traded away a fifth-round pick for a sparsely used Carlos Hyde this season. Hyde is under contract until 2021, but the team can cut him this offseason and save $4.7 million. Corey Grant was another victim to the IR list this past season. If the Jaguars don’t re-sign him, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Jaguars also signed Thomas Rawls in January and have David Williams on the roster. It’s going to be interesting to see how this position group shakes out.
So, while quarterback is certainly the most pressing need, it’s far from the only major need for this team. It’s now up to new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to rebuild and rejuvenate this unit. Time will tell if he’s able to successfully complete this task.
Outside of quarterback, what is Jacksonville’s biggest need on offense?
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