When Dave Caldwell addressed the media today (3/2/17) at the 2017 NFL Combine, he revealed some information about the teams plan regarding two of the Jaguars starting defensive backs from 2016.
While many including myself had speculated that the Jaguars were likely to let these two test free agency, that belief wasn't confirmed until today.
While Prince Amukamara played the free agency game just one year ago, this will be Johnathan Cyprien's first crack at free agency.
So with 2/5 of their starting defensive backfield set to hit free agency, the Jaguars must have a plan . . . right?
No one knows what the Jaguars are going to do once the legal tampering period starts on March 7th, but based on the franchise tags that have been dealt and the impending start of free agency it seems likely that there will be at least one solid player on the market that could serve as a replacement or even an upgrade for both Cyprien and Amukamara at their respective positions.
Here's what I think the Jaguars should do and what I think they will do regarding the starting strong safety and number two outside cornerback jobs that are now vacant.
1. Sign Tony Jefferson - Jefferson makes too much sense not to go after. Instead of bringing back Johnathan Cyprien, who is a tackling machine in the box but a liability in coverage the Jaguars will upgrade the position with Tony Jefferson, who incidentally went undrafted the same year the Jaguars drafted Cyprien. Jefferson is 26 years old and is big play waiting to happen. He regularly makes highlight reel hits and where Cyprien takes awful angles to the ball Jefferson often takes the perfect angle. Jefferson is also much more adept in coverage and has shown the ability to cover the deep middle or play in a two high safety look. Jefferson will likely cost a pretty penny, but his next deal won't even sniff the $13 million plus contract that Eric Berry just inked with the Chiefs.
2. Sign A.J. Bouye - The ascending former UCF star also went undrafted entering the league but at 26 years old has blossomed into one of the best young corners in football. With solid NFL size Bouye was able to carve out a spot in Houston as their number two cornerback in 2016. He was even asked to cover some of the top receivers in football and did so admirably. Bouye provides more upside than Prince and doesn't have near the lengthy injury history to boot. Pairing Bouye up with Jalen Ramsey on the outside, whilst deploying Tashaun Gipson and Tony Jefferson at free and strong safety, with Aaron Colvin in the slot would project to be one of the stronger defensive backfields in all the NFL. Plus, it's always great to steal players from division rivals.
Now, the Jaguars will certainly have competition when it comes to signing these two rising stars, but with no state income tax, an ascending young defense, and over $70 million in cap space, Jacksonville should be an appealing option to both young defensive backs.
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