Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agents: Buy or Sell?
It’s the offseason in Duval and that means two things: free agency and the draft. There are already a few big names such as Jason Pierre-Paul and Alshon Jeffery being thrown around as the top prizes in free agency this year but before the Jaguars front office can look at potential talent hitting the open market they have some decisions to make about some of their own free agents. Let’s take a minute and examine our own free agents here in Jacksonville and whether the Jaguars should buy or sell.
Prince Amukamara CB: Buy.
Amukamara was signed to a one-year “prove it” deal in the 2016 offseason after the New York Giants elected not to resign him. In 14 games this season Amukamara racked up 46 solo tackles and 6 passes defensed, which aren’t eye-popping stats but with Jalen Ramsey, Davon House, and Aaron Colvin also in the Jacksonville secondary Amukamara doesn’t have to be a shutdown corner to be a good fit for the team. He can line up against opposing team’s second or third receivers or in zone coverage and allow Ramsey to worry about the shutting down opposing number one wide outs. Look for Prince to be back in Jacksonville for the 2017 campaign.
Luke Joeckel G: Sell.
The Jaguars selected Joeckel with the second overall pick in a weak 2013 draft. Since then Joeckel has played in 39 of 64 games and only managed to stay healthy for a full season once, in 2014. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say Joeckel is a bust, he does look lost sometimes on the field and certainly isn’t what you want out of someone you select with the second overall pick. In 2017 Luke Bowanko will be back at center or guard after sitting out the 2016 campaign, while the Pro Bowl caliber Brandon Linder will return at center or guard. While Linder is the center piece of the Jaguars offensive line (no pun intended), Bowanko could be a key contributor moving forward. Additionally, the Jaguars seem to like Kelvin Beachum and Jeremy Parnell book-ending the offensive line. Unless Joeckel is willing to be a backup, and get paid backup money, there isn’t much reason for the Jaguars to resign him.
Tyson Alualu DE: Buy.
Although Alualu hasn’t put up elite numbers during his career in Jacksonville, the Jaguars absolutely must make sure he’s on the roster in 2017. In seven seasons Alualu has missed just two games, making him the iron-man of Jacksonville’s defense. Standing 6’3” and weighing in at 304 lbs. Alualu is an absolute run-stuffer and can play any position along the defensive line, not to mention he’s a solid veteran presence to help mentor young pass-rushers Dante Fowler Jr and Yannick Ngakoue. The Jaguars are a better team when Alualu is on the roster. Period.
Abry Jones DT: Buy.
This is a tough one. There’s a lot to like about Jones. After his rookie contract expired in 2015 Jones signed a one-year deal worth 2.5 million for 2016 and now finds himself in the free agency pool once again. He played at a high level in 2016, especially against the run, filling in for the injured Roy Miller. However, with Miller returning and Malik Jackson and Sen’Derrick Marks also on the roster if the Jaguars decided to pursue another player along the defensive line in the draft or free agency then roster spots on the defensive line could be at a premium. Jones didn’t register a single sack in 2016 but is still young, just 25 years old, so while I wouldn’t look to sign him long-term just yet if Jones is willing to accept another short-term deal he could be back in 2017.
Johnathan Cyprien SS: Buy.
Cyprien has become the victim of a lot of criticism lately, and the criticism isn’t entirely unwarranted. A lot of fans don’t want to see Cyprien in black and teal in 2017 but that poses the question, who will replace him? Kansas City almost certainly will resign Eric Berry, so do you try and fill the need with a draft selection and put a rookie in an already young secondary? Cyprien is comfortable in Jacksonville and while it’s too early to know exactly what kind of scheme new Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash will run, there is reason to believe he will run a more standard 4-3 defense with two deep safeties instead of the single high safety that Gus Bradley wanted to deploy. Cyprien has showed continued improvement with each passing year in the NFL and has only missed four games in his career. Additionally in 2016 he had a career high in tackles with 128 plus a forced fumble, fumble recovery, and four passed defensed. He may not be the answer long-term, but the Jaguars are a better team with him for now.
Bryan Walters WR: Buy.
Since becoming a Jaguar in 2015 Walters has caught 56 of 80 his 80 targets for 599 yards and 3 touchdowns. Walters isn’t going to become a star on the Jaguars offense but he’s nice to have on the roster in event of an injury, and he has some special teams value making him worth a one-year deal in 2017 to add depth to the position that is the Jaguars’ biggest strength.
Arrelious Benn WR: Buy.
The Jaguars acquired Benn last offseason and signed him to a one-year deal worth $760,000. In 2016 he caught 5 of 10 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. While his stats as a receiver aren’t anything to write home about Benn did make a name for himself on special teams, which was a huge weakness for the Jaguars in 2016. The Jaguars can’t afford to play as poorly as they did on special teams in 2017 as they did in 2016, and so if Benn is willing to sign another small short-term deal then he’s worth bringing back, and the depth he’ll give the receiver position is a plus.
Denard Robinson RB: Sell.
The Jaguars can’t seem to find their rhythm at the Running Back position which is currently led by the carousel of TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory, both of whom are returning next year. In 2016 Robinson ran the ball just 41 times for 144 yards with a disappointing longest rush of 9 yards. You could make an argument for Robinson’s speed and finding a way to use him, but the Jaguars also have Cory Grant who possesses lighting fast speed on the roster. I don’t know what the answer is at running back for the Jaguars, but I do know that they won’t find it in Robinson.
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