We found out yesterday, thanks to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, that the Jaguars were taking phone calls regarding the availability of veteran free safety Tashaun Gipson. The report makes sense. The Jaguars are looking to upgrade their offense, and to do so, they'll need to shed some of their more significant contracts.
Tashaun Gipson is due over $9 million in 2019. At just 28 years old, Gip is still in the prime of his career, but at that number, the Jaguars would be wise to look elsewhere for a starting free safety. Of course, the Jaguars could choose to trade away Gipson for draft capital and roll with the players they have at free safety. The combination of Jarrod Wilson and Cody Davis at FS could prove to be enough.
But why not trade Tashaun Gipson, save money, and get better at the position?
That's precisely what the Jaguars could do by signing 34-year-old free safety Eric Weddle. The Ravens released the six-time pro bowler earlier in the week in an attempt to get younger and free up some cap space. Weddle joined the Ravens in 2016 after nine stellar seasons with the Chargers to start his career. All he did in Baltimore was make three consecutive pro bowls, record ten interceptions, defend 24 passes, and record 220 tackles. 2018 was undoubtedly his worst season with the Ravens, but still, he was better than Tashaun Gipson was a season ago.
Weddle's contract with the Ravens was worth an average of $6.5 million per year over four years. That deal was inked three seasons ago. Now at 34, his asking price should be significantly less.
If the Jaguars can find a trade partner for Tashaun Gipson, they could acquire a mid to late round pick and dump his $9 million salary on a safety-needy team, and then sign Weddle to a deal worth an average of $5 million per year or less. In doing so, the team would effectively save money and upgrade the free safety position for the 2019 season.
Not only would Eric Weddle represent an upgrade in talent and be a cheaper option at free safety, but he's one of the most well-respected players in the league. His leadership has been noted in both San Diego and Baltimore. The Jaguars are a team that lacked leadership in 2018, but with the return of Calais Cmapbell, and potential signing of Eric Weddle, the Jaguars would have no more leadership issues on the defensive side of the ball.
In today's NFL safeties are not highly valued commodities, just look at the free agent safety market. While they are important to a defenses success they are not one the more highly paid positions in the NFL. Paying a safety $9 million just doesn't make cents (see what I did there?), when you consider how many quality safeties are on the open market that would cost significantly less.
Of course, it should be noted that Jaguars HC Doug Marrone has often spoken highly of Tashaun Gipson. And with good reason, Gipson, when at his best is a ball hawking free safety capable of shutting down some of the best tight ends in football. If the Jaguars don't feel comfortable with any of the trade offers they receiver, restructuring Gipson's contract could be an option.
Would you like to see Eric Weddle and his beard in a Jaguars uniform? Or would you prefer the Jaguars to keep Tashaun Gipson at all costs? Let us know in the comments below!
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