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With the 2019 NFL offseason upon us, here are some important dates coming up over the next three months to mark on your calendar:
· February 12 – NFL teams may sign players with expiring CFL contracts
· February 19 – Franchise/transition tag window opens
· February 26-March 4 – NFL Combine; Indianapolis, IN
· March 5 – Franchise/transition tag deadline at 4:00pm EST
· March 11-13 – Free Agency tampering window opens
· March 13 – NFL Free Agency officially opens at 4:00pm EST
· March 24-27 – Annual league meetings
· April 1 – Offseason workouts for clubs with new head coaches
· April 15 – Offseason workouts for clubs with returning head coaches
· April 19 – Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign tender
· April 25-27 – NFL Draft; Nashville, TN
Between NFL Free Agency and the 2019 NFL Draft, here are some avenues the Jacksonville Jaguars could pursue when it comes to building the blueprint of the quarterback position.
There’s a new sheriff in town in offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, and with his emphasis on accuracy, completion percentage and high football IQ, that spells bad news for a few (most) of the quarterbacks on the roster.
Bortles’ release is a matter of time based on what local media has surmised. Jaguars senior writer John Oehser has put his chances of returning to as close to zero percent as possible and seems pessimistic about Bortles staying in Jacksonville for 2019. The team saves $4.5 million in salary cap by releasing Bortles, and up to an additional $6.5 million can be recouped in offsets based on his next contract.
Kessler has put up some gritty showings when replacing Bortles, but the offense has been pedestrian under his guise. There have been a lot of mitigating circumstances on offense to contribute to his ineptitude between an interim coordinator and injuries, chiefly to the offensive line. That context coupled with Kessler’s paltry $912,417 cap hit may be what saves him and allows him to stick around in camp until final cuts in September – there’s really no reason for the Jaguars to move on until then.
Lee is a dead man walking with Flip in town. DeFilippo has stated that interception percentage and turnovers are the two non-starters for his quarterbacks, adding the following:
“The two biggest things that follow guys from high school to college and college to the pros are completion percentage and interception percentage. That’s a pretty telling statistic. I’ve done a lot of research on that through the years. It’s kind of who you are. If you’re a high-interception guy in college, you’re going to be that in the pros. And likewise in completion percentage.”
Lee was one of the most turnover prone quarterbacks in NCAA history (37 interceptions in three seasons) with extreme accuracy issues (55% college completion percentage), so I think we know what’s going to happen here.
McGough was signed to a futures contract by the Jaguars for a larger than average amount, demonstrating just how much the front office felt about McGough as a developmental prospect. McGough has an outstanding opportunity to stick around as the third quarterback on the 2019 depth chart to be developed into a future back up, similar to Nate Sudfeld with the Philadelphia Eagles. I wrote about McGough being a great fit for the Jaguars while he was still on the practice squad with the Seahawks.
Premium free agents
Foles has been a popular name associated with the Jaguars, but I find the match to be incongruous. You’ve probably read a dozen speculative media articles about Foles and the Jaguars, but I have yet to hear one solid whisper to incline that the Jaguars have legitimate interest. It has mostly been lazy media dot connecting with DeFilippo in town, and to be honest, Foles was largely Doug Pederson’s pet in Philadelphia while DeFilippo groomed Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld. Unless Foles takes a massive discount to be guaranteed a starting position, this just doesn’t seem to be financially feasible, and Jacksonville doesn’t have the offensive weapons at tight end or wide receiver for Foles to be successful.
The same goes for Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill, who still need to be released by their clubs. The marginal improvement Flacco would provide at this point in his career wouldn’t sync up with his requisite financial compensation, and with Doug Marrone’s huge emphasis on availability in 2019, it’s hard to imagine the oft-injured Ryan Tannehill being an option. Neither player seem too keen to mentoring a young quarterback at this point in their career, so it’s unlikely they would sign in Jacksonville without a guarantee that they would be the 2019 starter.
I expect the Jaguars to loosely inquire about Foles, but quickly bow out of the bidding like they did with Kirk Cousins last year once the cost gets out of hand. They’re simply not in a position to allocate a large portion of the cap to an adequate replacement who hasn’t proven consistency over a 16 game season. Additonally, Foles’ salary would cannibalize any opportunity to attract sufficient offensive weapons in free agency and would basically neutralize the point of Nick Foles.
Bargain free agents
Robert Griffin III
Here’s the sweet spot — the majority of the quarterbacks on this list would mostly fit under the cap for the cap savings that a Bortles release-plus-offsets would yield.
Taylor is a player that Tom Coughlin has spoken very highly of and is a perfect match for what the Jaguars locker room needs from the quarterback position. If you watched Hard Knocks, you’ll know Taylor is a tireless worker and is often the first player to show up at the facility everyday. Pairing Taylor as a mentor with a young first round quarterback would be an ideal situation for this team and checks a lot of boxes for a veteran quarterback option. Taylor can manage a game for wins with a great defense behind him and fits stylistically with John DeFilippo’s offensive style with his accuracy, mobility, and efficiency off play action.
McCown is another option that makes sense for mentoring a young rookie. McCown was revered for his work with Sam Darnold in New York this year and I had heard some rumors during the Senior Bowl that McCown was in the running to retire and become the Jets quarterbacks coach because of how impressed the organization was with his tutelage. McCown and DeFilippo are incredibly close and McCown recently did an interview with The Athletic’s Daniel Popper about how DeFilippo is the perfect offensive coordinator for the Jaguars.
Fitzpatrick is another candidate to consider as a steward to a young rookie. Fitzpatrick has been a pillar of support for Jamies Winston in Tampa Bay and has given the Bucs offense short sparks of production when needed. Fitzpatrick has always played well against the Jaguars (64% completion, 13 TDs, 5 INTs) and it wouldn’t be a far trip to move his wife and seven children from Tampa to Jacksonville.
Griffin was a player the Jaguars brought in for a work out last April, but Griffin ultimately signed in Baltimore. We may see some deja vu as his most likely scenario is staying in Baltimore to be the veteran back up for Lamar Jackson, but if he does end up on the market, he immediately becomes the most affordable option of the bargain free agents and gives DeFilippo a little mobility that he likes.
First round options
Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Based on my evaluation and what I’ve heard on the circuit, there’s really no other option. It’s Haskins or bust when it comes to the Jaguars selecting a first round quarterback, and I don’t think they’re afraid to move up to acquire their franchise stabilizer. Haskins’ rate of development as a one-year starter is extremely rare, and it’s very possible he would be in the conversation as QB1 in the 2020 class if he replicated his 2018 campaign into a Heisman finalist 2019 season.
In addition to having the football IQ to be a match made in heaven with John DeFilippo, Haskins has the accuracy and arm talent to be a very good NFL starter. One NFL scout I spoke with at the Senior Bowl said Haskins possesses Peyton Manning-caliber white board intangibles, and every publicized character reference for Haskins echoes this sentiment. Haskins is a film junkie that lives and breaths strategy and preparation. He also has the confidence and swagger that the Jaguars locker room is starving for from the quarterback position.
If you haven’t seen the below YouTube Big 10 film review clip with Dwayne Haskins, you’re missing out.
My sense is there’s a large drop off from Haskins and Drew Lock or Daniel Jones in terms of value, and the early vibe is Kyler Murray’s height would be an issue for Jacksonville.
Later round options
In the doomsday scenario where the Jaguars can’t come away with Haskins, Will Grier and Tyree Jackson could become the consolation prize on Day 2. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Jaguars offered their second rounder to Arizona for Josh Rosen if Kliff Kingsbury did end up causing chaos by taking Kyler Murray first overall and the Jaguars couldn’t snag Haskins.
Grier has a lot of questions marks that will likely keep him out of round one, but also has the maturity, upside, and leadership to be considered on Day 2. Grier was extremely up-and-down throughout the week live-scouting him in Mobile, but the Jaguars did seem to be paying him a lot of attention and I’ll be curious to see how many more times Jacksonville meets with Grier, particularly with a Top 30 visit.
Jackson is the physical specimen who has a ceiling higher than the stars, but there’s a lot of refinement and polish that is needed to be a consistent NFL quarterback. Having seen Josh Allen and Tyree Jackson in person for a week, frankly I don’t see much of a difference between the two as prospects. Jackson can make throws only a few humans on the planet are capable of, and his mobility for his size is something that is being overlooked as he was limited to working out of the pocket in 2018 after recovering from a knee injury the year prior. Jackson would be an intriguing developmental quarterback if the Jaguars want to convert to a vertical offense to take deep shots off of play action.
Undrafted free agent options
If the Jaguars depth chart consists of a rookie, a veteran, and McGough, it’s unlikely that an undrafted free agent stands a good chance of making the roster or practice squad.
McMaryion is an underrated prospect who comes from the Jeff Tedford system at Fresno State and was one of the most efficient passers in the country in 2018, rarely turning the ball over (25 TDs vs. 5 INTs). McMaryion was the most impressive quarterback at the East West shrine week outside of Brett Rypien and would be a fun camp arm.
Eric Dungey is a gritty quarterback who sacrificed his body time and time again playing for Dino Babers at Syracuse. With both Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone having roots in Western New York, Dungey is the type of tough competitor who the team could invite for a workout or rookie minicamp.
2019 QB depth chart prediction
Dwayne Haskins Jr.