NFL Free agency is set to officially kick off on March 17th. Leading up to the NFL's annual player auction, we've been taking a look at some of the Jaguars' key in-house free agents. Today, we arrive at cornerback Sidney Jones.
Despite tearing his achilles at his pro day, Jones was the 43rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. His tenure in Philly was marred by, you guessed it, injury issues. The Eagles released Jones just prior to the start of the 2020 season, in large part due to his lack of availability. After seeing him play in 12 games for the Eagles in 2019, the Jaguars pounced, adding the talented cornerback to their practice squad and subsequently elevating him to their active roster after week one of the regular season. He didn't find his way onto the field until week four, but he immediately made his presence felt. However, his achilles injury crept up again and held him out of several games down the stretch, ultimately leading to his placement on the IR.
When Sidney Jones was on the field for the Jaguars in 2020, he was dynamite. He allowed a completion percentage in coverage of just 51.4. Jones picked off two passes and broke up seven more. When he was healthy enough to suit up, the Jaguars' defense was significantly better — there's not debating that. Jones has quick feet, a long frame, and excellent athleticism.
So, what should the Jaguars do with this talented yet oft-injured cornerback?
If Jacksonville's new staff believes that Jones is healthy enough to play ball this fall, they should bring him back on a team-friendly deal. That should be doable because while Jones is talented and has shown his ability over the last two seasons, teams will be wary of signing him due to injury concerns. The Jaguars could likely retain him for south of $5M per year on a 2-3 year deal. Even if the Jaguars keep Jones, they'll need to ensure they have a backup plan in place for when he is unavailable. Unfortunately, Jones can't be heavily relied upon to stay healthy, which means Urban Meyer and company might elect to part ways.
The bottom line is, I'd bring him back on a team-friendly deal, if and only if the training staff believes he'll be healthy enough to start training camp. If Jones finds a way to stay healthy, he and CJ Henderson combine to be one the best young cornerback duos in football. Either way, the Jaguars will need to supplement their cornerback room further. CJ Henderson is a foundational piece, but outside of that, the cupboard appears to be relatively bare.
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