The Jaguars have several pressing needs heading into free agency. While they do boast Yannick Ngakoue, who was a breakout rookie in 2016, and Dante Fowler Jr., who was a first round pick in 2015, it wouldn't hurt to add another solid pass rusher to the mix.
JPP will be the most attractive pass rusher on the market if the Giants don't resign him. If Pierre-Paul makes it to the open market, the Jaguars should do everything in their power to bring him to Duval. He has rapport with the Jaguars new Executive Vice President of Football Operations — Tom Coughlin was the coach that drafted him and coached him in every season of his professional career, save 2016. Coughlin also helped JPP to get through his emotional and embarrassing fireworks incident. Pierre-Paul is by far the best option available to the Jaguars if they look to upgrade their pass rush via free agency, which they should do. His 50 career sacks in only seven seasons as a pro, is far more than any Jaguar player during the same time span and his 7 sacks in 2016 would have greatly aided the Jaguars youthful pass rush. Add in the fact that JPP is still in his prime at just 28 years old and you’ve got a potentially dynamite free agent signing. Now, he will certainly cost $10,000,000 + and may command even more of a mega deal, but the Jaguars have the cap room to do it and with the ever growing salary cap, they should be eager to spend that money.
Campbell is now on the wrong side of 30 and will likely command a contract that treads far too close to $10,000,000 per year. But the Jaguars will have a ton of cash to spend this offseason and they are officially in win now mode. Campbell is the first or second most talented pass rusher and defensive lineman as a whole that is set to be a free agent and if the Jaguars feel that he can fit their scheme then Campbell could be an option. His 56.5 career sacks should be extremely attractive to NFL executives and while Campbell is now 30 years old, he isn't showing any signs of slowing down. In 2016 he racked up 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 20 quarterback hits, and even picked off a pass. It seems unlikely that Campbell would want to leave Arizona, and even less likely that he would choose Jacksonville as his next landing spot, but if Campbell comes available the Jaguars should at least show some interest.
Addison is a curious case. He leads the Panthers in sack since 2014, yet he’s primarily a situational pass rusher. He stands 6’3’’ and weighs in at 260 lbs. In the last three seasons he’s totaled 22 sacks — far more than any Jaguar or former Jaguar over the same period. He’s now 29 years old and could be nearing the big age drop off in a couple of seasons, but he’s coming off of his best individual season in terms of sacks with 9.5. He likely won’t cost nearly as much as Campbell or Pierre-Paul, but he doesn’t have nearly as impressive career numbers and the question remains — Is he a product of a dominant Panthers front seven? Only time will tell but Addison should certainly be on the Jaguars radar.
Less than a year ago Jabaal Sheard was the recipient of praise from just about everyone in the NFL. He was coming off of his first regular season as a New England Patriot, a year in which he recorded 8 sacks and looked poised to be a Patriots main stay for years to come. But the narrative on Sheard has changed dramatically in the last twelve months. Sheard had a hugely disappointing 2016 campaign and was even deactivated for the Patriots contest against the 49ers, despite being healthy. It’s not entirely clear why Sheard was deactivated and why he saw less snaps in 2016, but it’s safe to say that he did something or multiple things to make Bill Belichick unhappy. Despite his confusing 2016 season Sheard still recorded 5 sacks, which would have greatly helped the Jaguars and has recorded at least 5 sacks in five of his six NFL seasons. Sheard is still only 27 and could be an intriguing free agent, if he makes it to the open market.
A much more low key signing could be Devin Taylor. The Mammoth 6’7’’ Taylor is coming off of a disappointing season in terms of his sack totals — he only took the QB down 4.5 times in 2016, but according to his Defensive Coordinator, Terrell Austin, the numbers don't tell the whole story. “I’m not saying he’s played worse or better than he did last year. I’m not displeased with what he’s done, I guess is the best way to answer that” said Austin when asked about Taylor’s season. The 4.5 sacks in 2016 were down from the 7 he recorded in 2015. It’s certainly disappointing to see a drop off in sacks in a contract year, but Taylor could be a sneaky guy that could be productive in the right system and surrounded by the right pieces. At 27 years old he wouldn't be a flashy signing for the Jaguars, but could be the right one.
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