The Jaguars signed a bevy of high-priced free agents this past week. With so many misses in the draft over the last several seasons, the Jaguars were forced to turn to free agency to infuse their roster with talent. Armed with a treasure trove of salary cap space, incumbent general manager Trent Baalke and new head coach Doug Pederson swiftly added some of the biggest names available on the open market.
The first splash move?
The Jaguars agreed to sign right guard Brandon Scherff to a three-year contract worth a total of $49.5 million. But, of course, the total dollar amount isn't what's important here. The guaranteed money is the key component of any NFL contract. The Jaguars gave Scherff $30 million guaranteed, which essentially means the team will be able to move on from this contract after two years if they so desire. After year two of this deal, the Jaguars can release Scherff and save $16.5 million against the salary cap. So, for all intents and purposes, the Jaguars signed Scherff to a two-year contract.
The details of this agreement are beneficial for both the player and the team. At 30 years old, Scherff gets a massive guaranteed payday, and the Jaguars are only on the hook for two years, giving them plenty of flexibility if they end up with buyer's remorse. With the biggest cap hit coming in the second year of the contract, the Jaguars are in great shape from a salary cap standpoint moving forward. Even after factoring in their recent signings, they have $68 million in 2023 salary cap space.
But what does Brandon Scherff bring to the field? He'll be replacing AJ Cann in the starting lineup at right guard. And the word replacing doesn't exactly do justice to Scherff in this situation. He's a tremendous upgrade over AJ Cann. The former Iowa offensive lineman has made the Pro-Bowl five times in his seven-year career and was named first-team All-Pro in 2020. Scherff brings elite athleticism to the position, even at 30 years old. He displays fluid movements both laterally and vertically. In the first few plays of my film study, he showed off some impressive combo-blocks, pulled to get out in front of a run, used independent hands, and displayed excellent block framing and leverage. As I continued through a couple of games, his anchor, length, and nastiness consistently shined. When Brandon Scherff is on the field, there aren't many interior offensive linemen with a more impressive blend of size, power, athleticism, and nastiness. He makes it look easy.
Scherff worked with Jaguars' offensive line coach Phil Rauscher for two years in Washington, which made this an easy pairing to predict. Scherff is scheme versatile, but his athleticism makes him a perfect fit for what is expected to be a zone-heavy rushing attack in Jacksonville.
On what attracted him to Jacksonville?
"All of the above," said Scherff. "I know a couple of the guys that played for Coach Doug, and they said nothing but great things about him. Coach Phil, the O-Line coach, I played for him for two years. So, we talked a little bit. And you know, blocking for Trevor. Watching his tape, he's an outstanding quarterback, and we're excited for the opportunity."
What's the catch?
Scherff has missed 22 of a possible 65 regular-season games over the last four seasons. That's over 33 percent! It's certainly fair to label him as an injury-prone player. Fortunately, the Jaguars have some decent depth along their O-Line and can continue to bolster their ranks throughout the offseason.
Grading the Signing
When it comes to the flexibility that the Brandon Scherff contract gives the Jaguars, and the level of player and leader Scherff is on the field, this move is an A+. Scherff helps set the tone in the run game and is one of the best pass-protecting interior linemen in the game today. Unfortunately, we have to factor in the injuries here. Injuries are unpredictable, and it's entirely possible Scherff could have close to a fully healthy season in 2022. Still, missing an average of over 33% of games over the last four seasons is concerning. I've got to bump the move down to an A- with the injury issues. Still, if you're adding a player who performs at a Pro Bowl level for 2/3 of your games, you're significantly improving your roster.
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