The Jaguars are entering a pivotal offseason. As a team that has won a combined 11 games over the last two seasons, the pressure is on. Shad Khan granted general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone one last try. It's presumably a win or pack your bags type of season for the entire coaching staff and front office.
Free agency is just over a month away and is followed by the draft. To give Doug Marrone and the coaching staff an opportunity to succeed in 2020, the Jaguars will need to perform well in the player acquisition department this offseason.
Here's my breakdown of what the Jaguars' 53 man roster could like in September when the regular season rolls around. Keep in mind that I've done the cap calculations for these moves, and the Jaguars could certainly manage to make all these roster moves and stay under the cap.
Analysis: Again, this is a perfect scenario. I'm not sure the Jaguars will be able to trade Foles, but in this excercise, they're able to dish Foles to a team in need of a veteran QB. The Jaguars can then anoint Gardner Minshew as their QB of the future and present, naming him the starter. Dobbs is a developmental player with plenty of physical tools as a passer and runner. He's a smart guy that should continue to make the QB room better.
Analysis: Leonard Fournette still figures to be the Jaguars' starting running back in 2020. But after that, things get murky. The Jaguars should pass on his fifth-year option — paying slightly above average running backs bigtime money is not the way. Enter Lamical Perine, whom the Jaguars can scoop up on the third day of the draft. The former Florida Gator has the potential to be a three-down back at the next level and is more explosive than many believe. Ryquell Armstead is a quality young back up that can help in multiple areas. Chris Thompson was a super productive pass-catching back for Jay Gruden in Washington and is set to become a free agent. He shouldn't be a costly addition.
Analysis: The Jaguars have a legit starting wide receiver in DJ Chark, but Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, and Keelan Cole are best suited as role players instead of the starting roles they were thrust into last year. Enter Denzel Mims. He, like Chark, has long speed and a ridiculous catch radius. The Jaguars add a big-play threat with potential as a possession receiver on day two. Joe Reed enters the fold late on day three of the draft and instantly transforms the Jaguars' kick return role from a weakness to a strength.
Analysis: After Greg Olsen, Hunter Henry, and Austin Hooper are signed, Eric Ebron will cost significantly less. But the veteran pass-catching tight end would be a welcome addition and could become a bit of a safety net for Gardner Minshew. James O'Shaughnessy is an underrated and reliable piece to the puzzle. Josh Oliver will need to have a healthy offseason to prove that he has the potential to become a seam stretching tight end for the Jaguars.
Analysis: Because the Jaguars were able to sign players like Brandon Scherff, Marcell Dareus, Byron Jones, and Eric Ebron, they entered the first round without having to target a particular position. That allowed them to select Mekhi Becton, who is my favorite offensive lineman in the draft. The hulking presence dominates the left side of the line of scrimmage. This would allow the Jaguars to test Cam Robinson out on the interior. With Brandon Scherff replacing AJ Cann in the starting lineup, the Jaguars see two massive upgrades along their offensive line.
Analysis: Here, the Jaguars elect not to pick up Marcell Dareus' club option, and instead re-sign him to a deal that benefits both sides. Dareus enjoys living in Jacksonville and has a solid relationship with Doug Marrone and Todd Wash. The Jaguars also find a way to come to terms with rising star Yannick Ngakoue. The Jaguars add Davon Hamilton from Ohio State early on day three of the draft as a developmental nose tackle that could contribute early on.
Analysis: The Jaguars need to get better production from their linebackers in 2020. Injuries and inexperience hampered this group in 2019. A move back to SAM or WILL on base downs will serve Myles Jack well. And Malik Harrison from Ohio State will come in on base downs to ensure the Jaguars have a run-stuffer at middle linebacker. Quincy Williams should develop a bit and could re-earn his starting role at WILL. Leon Jacobs is a strong SAM linebacker and special teamer. Donald Payne and DJ Alexander both provide special teams value and make for solid depth pieces.
Analysis: The Jaguars cut ties with AJ Bouye here, saving nearly $11.5M against the cap in 2020. They replace him with Byron Jones, who will cost much less in year one thanks to a large signing bonus. Jones is a better player than Bouye at this point in their respective careers and will add some athleticism and versatility to the Jaguars' defensive backfield. The Jaguars also get extremely lucky — the second-best cornerback in the draft, Kristian Fulton, falls to twenty and immediately upgrades the Jaguars' cornerback room. He'll compete with Tre Herndon for the starting job opposite Byron Jones.
Analysis: This is one of the few position groups that could've used a major upgrade, but the Jaguars weren't able to make any big moves due to larger concerns at other positions. Still, JR Reed is a playmaker from Georgia who thrives when rolling downhill and packs a punch when he gets to the ball. He's shown more coverage ability than some give him credit for.
Thanks to free agency and the draft, the Jaguars are able to get better almost everywhere on their roster. This now a roster that, on paper, could make a run at the AFC South or a potential wildcard birth in the playoffs. The team's possible success will rely on Gardner Minshew's development and a significant improvement in the run defense department.
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