A Look at the In-House Free Agency Situation for the Jaguars
While most people are focusing on the big-name free agents that the Jaguars may sign this March (Eric Berry, Eric Weddle, Von Miller, etc.), most teams tend to focus on their own free agents before the free agency period even begins. The Jaguars currently have 11 free agents: 8 unrestricted, 2 restricted, and 1 exclusive rights player. Right now, it looks like the majority of them will return to Jacksonville, but some of these players may leave the team to seek out a bigger role. A few will definitely return while some are probably out, but there are a few names who could go either way.
Ryan Davis, DL, RFA: 2015 Cap Hit of $585,000: Davis, who is listed at LEO but plays the majority of his snaps as a 3-tech in the Lightning package, is another restricted free agent who will most likely return to Duval. Davis got significant snaps at LEO in games for the first time in his career in 2015, but was mostly ineffective and wasn’t good enough to stay ahead of Chris Clemons on the depth chart. However, he proved incredibly valuable in 2014, when he had 6.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles (primarily from the 3-tech). He fits well as a backup and shouldn’t walk.
Marcedes Lewis, TE, UFA: 2015 Cap Hit of $3,850,000: Lewis, the former first round pick of the team, should return if he wants to take a huge pay-cut (which I believe he will). He wasn’t worth the nearly $4 million cap hit last season, but he can come back for way less money and be a helpful veteran. I could see a contract of 2 years with somewhere in between $3 and $4 million with maybe $1.5 million guaranteed. If he wants more than $3 million per year, the team should definitely let him walk. He also may decide he wants to chase a ring before he retires, but I think he’ll stay in the 904.
Clay Harbor, TE, UFA: 2015 Cap Hit of $1,500,000: Harbor has been a solid player and has shown flashes of being a contributor, but he is third on our team’s depth chart behind Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis. He can definitely carve out a bigger role in another offense if he leaves. However, he could return if Lewis doesn’t.
Players Who Are On the Brink
Chad Henne, QB, UFA: 2015 Cap Hit of $3,500,000: People need to stop with the “Henne is a great locker room mentor to Blake” talk. If the team wants him back, it’s because he’s a solid backup who has played in 64 career games and has over 12,000 career passing yards. You don’t go and find backups with that kind of starting experience and pay this little amount of money for them. I think we should try to bring him back, but maybe he thinks he can go somewhere like Philadelphia and compete for the starting job. I would give him a 2-year contract for $6 or $7 million and low guarantees. That’s an easy price to pay for a solid insurance policy for Bortles.
Stefen Wisniewski, C, UFA: 2015 Cap Hit of $2,500,000: Wisniewski was probably the most underwhelming addition to the team this season. After a good four years in Oakland, he came over to Jacksonville and couldn’t consistently snap the ball well or get push in the run game. He’s good in pass protection, but not much else. If he is brought back, it will be to have an actual competition for the starting job (I think he was basically handed the job last year) and he won’t survive training camp if he loses. He’s worth another 1-year contract for $3 or $4 million.
In short, I think the team will lose Harbor, Pierce, Young, Wisniewski, and Branch this offseason. However, I think the team can easily compensate for these losses, especially Young and Pierce. The Jags won’t miss a beat without these players, and adding some new pieces with the core that’s in place could put us in the postseason. Go Jags!
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