The Jaguars plans for revamping their anemic offense and return to the promise that was held following the 2017 playoff run, begins at midnight on Monday, March 11th, as the official “legal tampering” window opens for NFL teams in their efforts to woo potential unrestricted free agents.
While the cat is already out of the bag, sort to speak, on who the Jags’ top free agent priority will be starting Monday— former Philadelphia Eagle and Super Bowl LII MVP quarterback Nick Foles— the team is rumored to be active once again in free agency, following a weekend purge that saw them free up over $30 million in cap space. Based off of recent NFL insider reports, as well as some rumors heard within the last few days, here are a few names to keep an eye out for that may be brought in once the league calendar opens this Wednesday, other than Foles.
Jesse James, Tight End, (Pittsburgh Steelers)
At 6’7 260 lbs., James brings both the frame and athleticism that Tom Coughlin, Dave Caldwell, and Doug Marrone would love to add to their offense. While he had a decrease in production in 2018, due mostly to the emergence of Vance McDonald, James is a versatile tight end who is able to be a strong weapon in the passing game while also serving as a reliable blocker in the rushing attack. Perhaps best known for his touchdown reception that never was during a 2017 regular season game against New England, James would likely become a favorite target for whoever lines up under center for the Jaguars, at a position of desperate need. He also shouldn’t come as too heavy of a price tag.
Golden Tate, Wide Receiver, (Philadelphia Eagles)
While the team is publicly stating that they are content with the wide receiver group they have entering 2019, the Jags could stand to use a veteran who can be depended on more than the oft-injured Marqise Lee, and hit or miss Dede Westbrook. Tate reportedly has strong interest in joining the Patriots, and may be asking for more than the Jags are willing to spend at the spot, but from what I understand there is mutual interest should New England and the cash not be what Tate is looking for. Having close ties to Jalen Ramsey, and some familiarity with Foles following a half season in Philadelphia, may help sweeten the deal a bit in the Jags’ favor.
Andy Levitre, Guard, (Atlanta Falcons)
It’s no secret that outside of maybe tight end, the position of most pressing need for the Jaguars to address once a quarterback is in the fold, will be the offensive line. Levitre is a former second round pick of the Buffalo Bills back in 2009 and has amassed 143 starts over his NFL career, including four years with the Bills, two seasons with the Titans, and the previous two seasons with the Falcons where his 2018 season ended abruptly following a Week 2 triceps tear. Levitre will be 32 starting the season, and coming off injury, but he is a seasoned vet and at the least would serve as a quality backup who can play either guard spot. He should also come relatively cheap.
Preston Brown, Linebacker, (Cincinnati Bengals)
Although the focus this off-season will be heavily skewed toward the offense, don’t be surprised if the Jags add a piece to the depth at linebacker, particularly one who can play the true “Mike” backer spot which was somewhat lacking last season at times, (see the Dallas and Tennessee TNF games). Another player who, like Levitre, may be a second-tier signing, Brown was a four-year starter with the Bills before signing with the Bengals last off-season to a one-year deal, but was plagued by injuries in his season in Cincinnati, including an unspecified knee injury that ended his season in November. When healthy, Brown was a solid inside linebacker in Buffalo, starting 62 games and accounting for 505 tackles including 21 tackles for loss and 1 sack. He could provide short-term and inexpensive support in the run game and necessary depth.