Perhaps one of the worst days in the NFL preseason schedule, final cuts are set to be made by Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 4:00 p.m. ET.
That’s when Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, his staff, along with general manager Trent Baalke will get together to make the tough decisions in order to craft the team’s ideal 53-man roster ahead of its Week 1 matchup against the Houston Texans.
The Jaguars and all 32 teams are still eligible to trade and sign players at will, and plenty of roster moves will be made throughout the coming days as the team’s attempt to stash players on its practice squad or reserve/injured list if the player is deemed eligible.
It will not be until Tuesday’s deadline that teams can stash players on the reserve/injured list and be eligible to return for the season at some point.
The practice squad will be based on the rules last year, allowing up to 16 players to fill the roster, along with space for six veterans with unlimited accrued seasons.
Let’s take a look at what the roster could look like for the Jags:
Quarterback (2): Trevor Lawrence (R), C.J. Beathard
The Jaguars made this easier on Saturday by trading third-year QB Gardner Minshew II to the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2022. Lawrence is the clear starter and Beathard is the backup by virtue of his play and guaranteed money ($2.75M).
Third-string QB Jake Luton will likely be on the team’s practice squad if he makes it through waivers unclaimed.
While Luton played well on Sunday, completing 16 of 18 of his passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, the Jaguars simply may not have the numbers to keep three QBs this season on its active 53-man roster.
Released: Jake Luton
Offensive line (9): Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, Jawaan Taylor, Ben Bartch, Walker Little (R), Will Richardson, Tyler Shatley
This group is set, and Richardson has made an impression on both Meyer and Baalke throughout training camp. His versatility, ability to play guard or tackle on the right side, will also come in handy.
Bartch is the immediate backup to Norwell and Cann, while Shatley will come in for Linder or either guard position as well. While Little has shown plenty of promise, he isn’t ready for the starting gig as of right now but will do well as the team’s primary swing tackle.
Jacksonville has played Little at left tackle throughout the preseason, but he did take plenty of snaps at right tackle during training camp.
Released: KC McDermott, Austen Pleasants, Badara Traore, Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, Jermaine Eluemunor
Running back (4): James Robinson, Carlos Hyde, Dare Ogunbowale, Devine Ozigbo
The loss of rookie running back Travis Etienne will sting for Jacksonville this year, and this group might not be set. Hyde hasn’t particularly impressed during the preseason, but the team likes him as the veteran bruiser behind Robinson.
Ogunbowale offers a receiving option, and Ozigbo proved better than Nathan Cottrell on Sunday.
Released: Nathan Cottrell
Tight end (3): Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Luke Farrell (R)
This is arguably the weakest position group on the roster right now, but the top two options, Manhertz and O’Shaughnessy are worthy of making nearly any 53-man roster in the NFL right now. Farrell is the team’s sixth-round rookie and he’s shown more than Tyler Davis and Ben Ellefson throughout camp.
Don’t be surprised to see Jacksonville claim a tight end off of waivers after going light in this position to start the week.
Released: Tyler Davis, Ben Ellefson
Wide receiver (7): DJ Chark Jr., Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault, Phillip Dorsett, Jamal Agnew, Pharroh Cooper, Collin Johnson
Along with the safety position, the receiver group will be the toughest to predict for the Jaguars. The top five receivers are set, leaving the final one or two spots up for grabs between a multitude of players.
Keeping seven receivers is a bit unconventional, but this is Meyer’s first year as a head coach in the NFL and really anything goes. The team also views Agnew as a return specialist, making him a special exception, allowing the team to retain some talent it would otherwise be forced to send away.
Cooper offers return value in the case that Agnew is to go down during the year, and Johnson has flashed potential in the past with size unmatched among the rest of the team’s roster. Don’t be surprised to see this group look a lot different at the bottom, however, it legitimately could go either way.
Early training camp darling, Laquon Treadwell, tapered off near the end of camp, but still has a legitimate shot at making the team, and Tavon Austin’s injury makes him a tough player to put here. This could easily go in any direction and my guess is as good as yours here.
The Jaguars also have seen promise from second-year receiver Josh Hammond, though his lack of special teams reps hurts his ability to make the team. Jeff Cotton Jr. was a standout on Sunday against Dallas, and Devin Smith has some intrigue as a deep receiver. All three players may end up on the Jaguars’ practice squad.
Rookie receiver Jalen Camp hasn’t played much in the preseason, likely a way for the team to hide his talent and potentially stash him on the practice squad.
Released: Austin, Camp, Cotton Jr., Tevin Jones, Treadwell, Devin Smith, Hammond
Safety (5): Rayshawn Jenkins, Jarrod Wilson, Andre Cisco (R), Daniel Thomas, Rudy Ford
Similar to receiver, the Jaguars are loaded at safety, at least as far as depth is concerned. Keeping five safeties is almost a near-certainty as the team looks to keep some special teams talent (Ford, Thomas) along with core starters in Jenkins, Wilson and Cisco.
While Josh Jones had been receiving plenty of first-team repetitions during practice and the preseason, the position is legitimately up for grabs, and Wilson has shown plenty throughout the preseason. Combined with his special teams prowess, it makes it much easier to retain him over Jones.
Ford has quickly become the team’s primary third safety in dime situations, and also has special teams value.
Last week, Meyer made mention of Thomas and Wilson as two players that have stood out over the past couple of weeks. The cutdown of this position group will be intriguing.
“That’s tough because you have to numbers crunch at that position,” said Meyer. “Those are all NFL players. If they’re not here, they’re going to get picked up.”
Released: Andrew Wingard, Josh Jones
Corner (5): Shaquill Griffin, CJ Henderson, Tyson Campbell (R), Sidney Jones, Tre Herndon
This position group is pretty much set with Herndon returning from a sprained MCL soon enough. If he is not deemed healthy enough, perhaps the team will keep more than five, but at the moment, there’s not much wiggle room.
Chris Claybrooks was injured during the team’s victory over the Cowboys and could potentially be stashed on the reserve/injured list.
Released: Claybrooks, Lorenzo Burns, Brandon Rusnak, Corey Straughter
Defensive line (6): Malcom Brown, DaVon Hamilton, Roy Robertson-Harris, Taven Bryan, Jay Tufele (R), Doug Costin
It’s a deep defensive line room for the Jaguars this season. The tail end of the roster could be manipulated from cutdown day forward with a potential final spot going to Costin, who can play the nose tackle position for Jacksonville behind Hamilton. Costin also showed promise last season.
While there was a question of whether or not Bryan would make the team after missing the majority of training camp, those questions were put to rest by defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. The team loves his strength and ability to many multiple positions on the defensive line. This will be the last season for Bryan to prove himself.
Released: Adam Gotsis, Daniel Ekuale
EDGE (5): Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, Jordan Smith (R), Dawaune Smoot, Jihad Ward
This group is mixed, Chaisson and Smith will primarily play the team’s SAM linebacker position with Allen, Smoot and Ward manning more of an EDGE rusher/down lineman position. Either way, the team will likely keep these five moving forward as its primary pass rushers.
The one veteran left off the list here is Lerentee McCray who has played for Jacksonville since 2017. While he does add value as a special teams player, the team might want to look at other position groups to add value on that unit instead.
Released: Aaron Patrick, McCray
Linebacker (4): Myles Jack, Damien Wilson, Shaq Quarterman, Chapelle Russell
There isn’t any intrigue here, really. Jack, Wilson and Quarterman are locks to make the roster, and Russell has been a consistent player during the preseason and has played plenty of special teams reps. Former third-round pick Quincy Williams is left off as is former Last Chance U star Dakota Allen.
Released: Williams, Allen
Special Teams (3): Josh Lambo, Logan Cooke, Ross Matiscik
While there was a little bit of intrigue here at the start of the offseason and over the past week, Lambo rebounded, connecting on both of his field goals on Sunday against the Cowboys as well as all four of his extra points. Cooke and Matiscik have played well.
Note: Currently, Allen and Cann are on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. They currently do not count towards the team’s 80-man roster, and would not count towards its 53-man roster if they are not activated by Tuesday’s deadline. As such, the Jaguars will likely keep two extra players who would otherwise have not made the team.
Edit: Allen was activated from the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list following this post.