Let the speculation begin. As the NFL inches closer to free agency, teams are making their lists and checking them twice. For all 32 organizations, this is a continuation of Christmas and Hanukkah rolled into one huge spending spree. Chris Wesseling of NFL.com wrote a piece about the three most glaring needs for each AFC team. As expected the Jacksonville Jaguars have significant needs on the offensive side of the ball.
The NFL analyst wrote that wide receiver, quarterback and tight end are needs the team must address, but maybe not in that order. The contract extension quarterback Blake Bortles signed was a “friendly” deal that saved the team $10 million towards the salary cap. This should allow Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell to sign a few free agents without hurting the team financially.
The news of Allen Robinson’s impending free agency if a new deal cannot be worked out will force the team to look at options in addition to the NFL Draft. Sammy Watkins, Taylor Gabriel and Donte Moncrief could all become targets of the teal and black.
“The Jags opted against the franchise tag for Allen Robinson, which allows a receiver-needy outfit, such as the Bears or 49ers, to overpay for free agency’s most intriguing receiver,” Wesseling. “With Marqise Lee also due to reach the open market and Allen Hurns in danger of being released, wideout looms as the shallowest position on the roster. While Marcedes Lewis remains an effective blocker, he could use a more athletic partner in the passing game. Speaking of the aerial attack, Jacksonville is in dire need of an insurance policy for unpredictable quarterback Blake Bortles.”
Tight end might be the first position looks to next week. Tyler Eifert, Crockett Gilmore and Trey Burton all figure to be available and had for the right price. Eifert of Cincinnati is considered the best player on the board. Gilmore was a solid player in Baltimore and Burton was a dependable backup in Philadelphia.
There is speculation Jimmy Graham could also jump into the mix.
Wide receiver is tricky given the position could be overhauled this offseason. Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone will have Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole on the roster. Allen Hurns will have to restructure his deal. After that, things become a bit muddled. Does Marqise Lee re-sign for the $7-$8 million he is projected to get on the open market?
Will the team look to sign a big-name pass catcher, which could draw the ire of the fan base for not making a deal with Robinson stick? Will the team draft Courtland Sutton, Christian Kirk or Anthony Miller in the first round?
I believe the Jaguars will draft a quarterback at some point in April and bring him in to groom as the future of the franchise. Since the team took themselves out of the running for Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees, finding a veteran quarterback for a fair price might also be part of management’s thinking.
Jacksonville must also address the offensive line, where two players could be signed to help strengthen the interior. Josh Sitton who was released by the Chicago Bears, might be the best fit. Justin Pugh and Weston Richberg could also be in play here.