The Jaguars are going to be spending in free agency this offseason. They have a “mountain of cap space” and have plenty of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. It is reasonable to expect that the Jaguars will spend a pretty penny on a pass rusher and a defensive back (starting cornerback or free safety), while filling a few other holes with less expensive players.
Olivier Vernon from Miami is a truly impressive pass rusher. The Jaguars are absolutely desperate for a quality pass rush and are not afraid to admit it — General Manager Dave Caldwell expects “an influx of pass rushers”. I expect the Jaguars to sign at least one player with pass rush ability in free agency and I think Olivier Vernon will be the one. Vernon has been a monster over the last several seasons in Miami. In 2015 alone, he recorded 80 QB Pressures, 30 knockdowns, and 7.5 sacks. In addition to his pass rushing prowess, he also has the ability to defend the run, racking up 61 tackles in 2015. Vernon will likely be the highest priced pass rusher in free agency, but the Jaguars are in dire need of a pass rush and should spend as much as they need to in order to secure the 25 year old pass rusher.
There are several other pass rushers who will be available in free agency including Bruce Irvin, Tamba Hali, Robert Ayers, and William Hayes.
Other free safety options include Eric Berry (likely won’t hit the open market), Reggie Nelson, Walter Thurmond, Rodney McLeod, and Husain Abdullah.
Instead of adding a free safety in free agency, the Jaguars may elect to go the route of adding a starting cornerback. With quality free safety prospects in the draft (Jalen Ramsey and Darian Thompson) this may be a wise decision.
There are a bevy of options that make sense for the Jaguars at cornerback in this years free agent class.
Beyond adding a high a quality pass rusher and defensive back, the Jaguars will also likely add a center, perhaps Alex Mack, if he opts out of the final year of his deal in Cleveland. In addition to bringing in a center, don't be surprised if there is another running back added to the mix.
In terms of who stays and who goes for the Jaguars in house free agents, we've got you covered here
I want to reiterate that the Jaguars will not sign all of these guys. A reasonable expectation is that the Jaguars will, at the very least, add a quality (aka expensive) pass rusher and defensive back, while filling in some other holes with less expensive free agents. Beyond that don't get your hopes up. The Dave Caldwell regime is never going to put this team in the crippling financial situation that they were in at the end of the Tom Coughlin era, and that is a really good thing.
If the Jags are able to add a good pass rusher and another good defensive back, then they will likely have at least 4 new starters on defense in 2016, if you include Sen’Derrick Marks and Dante Fowler. A welcome sight, to be sure, for fans of the boys from Duval.
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