Now that it has been announced the Jacksonville Jaguars will not pick up the contract option for left tackle Kelvin Beachum, where will the team turn to fill a major need on the offensive line?
Per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com, The Jaguars did not pick up the four-year option in Kelvin Beachum’s contract on Wednesday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be the team’s starting left tackle in September.
Beachum is not a free agent until March 9, so the two sides have plenty of time to agree on a contract. By not picking up the option, however, the Jaguars run the risk that Beachum will decide to test the free-agent market and sign elsewhere.
The Jaguars, most notably executive vice president Tom Coughlin and general manager David Caldwell do have options to choose from. And above everything else, the idea of re-signing Beachum to a new deal with the team may not be off the board. But there is speculation with the announcement by other NFL teams of players being cut, the Jaguars may look elsewhere.
DiRocco has speculated that both Matt Kalil and Riley Reiff are the top options. Other tackles have been released by their organizations or are expected to be let go before the free agency period begins. Miami’s Branden Albert and Ryan Clady of the New York Jets could also become intriguing possibilities for the team. There is also speculation Jacksonville could seek a tackle in the NFL Draft come April, but the idea of taking someone at that position with the fourth pick may be a bit of a reach. The Jaguars could find a solid rookie in the second round.
Kelvin Beachum was arguably the team’s best lineman last year and did not give up a sack in the final 10 games of the season after coming over from Pittsburgh in the 2016 offseason. There is a chance, DiRocco explains, the Jaguars may have to play more than the $9 million-per-year average in Beachum’s option to land someone else in free agency.
The left tackle position has been a spot of failure in year’s past since the team allowed the Houston Texans take Tony Boselli in the Expansion Draft in 2002. Jacksonville drafted Luke Joeckel in the first round in 2013 – the first year Caldwell took over as the team’s general manager.
Prior to the start of the 2016 season, the Jaguars announced they would not pick up the fifth-year option of Joeckel’s rookie deal, and moved him inside to guard next to Beachum. Joeckel played well before suffering a season-ending knee injury and was placed on injured reserve in October following knee surgery.
Jacksonville could still sign Joeckel to another deal and move him back to left tackle or bring him back to play left guard once more.
Beachum signed a one-year deal with a four-year option with the Jaguars in March and earned $5 million in 2016. Had the Jaguars picked up the option, Beachum would have had his $7.5 million base salary in 2017 and $5.5 million of his $8.5 million base salary in 2018 guaranteed.