The Jaguars have added to their free-agent signings after agreeing to terms with former 49ers and Bears EDGE/OLB Aaron Lynch. Lynch was drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by San Francisco. As a rotational rookie, he appeared in all sixteen games and collected six sacks. He followed a successful rookie campaign by recording six and a half sacks, only appearing in 14 games in 2015. Two successful seasons were quickly forgotten after struggling to stay on the field in 2016 and 2017, and then a lackluster stint with the Chicago Bears. Before leaving for Chicago, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Salah shifted Lynch to a full-time lineman. He played in 29 games over the last two seasons Chicago as a rotational backer, amassing only 22 tackles and five sacks.
It is no secret that Lynch has struggled to stay on the field. To start camp in his second year, Lynch battled through back and hamstring injuries. Knee and hand ailments took him out of a game against the Falcons twice that year as well, and he missed time late in the year with a concussion. He received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy to begin the 2016 season and missed five more games with a high ankle sprain. His next few years saw him plagued with multiple leg injuries, back issues, elbow, and shoulder problems as well. While health has been a factor consistently throughout his NFL career, he did manage to suit up for 13 and 16 games respectively over the last two season, a trend the Jaguars hope can continue.
With the inevitable switch to the 3-4 defense, confirmed by Head Coach Doug Marrone, Lynch will have a chance to try his hand as a power strong-side edge. Listed at 6’5, and 285 pounds, Lynch is a much different EDGE than the Jaguars currently have on their roster. Josh Allen has proven he can serviceably play the run, but make no mistake about it, he is a rush-first speed end who will excel at putting pressure on the quarterback this year. First-round draft pick K’Lavon Chaisson saw a similar role at LSU in their 3-4 scheme. Should the Jaguars balance out their look on base downs, Lynch has a chance to be their strong-side guy. He is big enough to hold gaps and allow the backers to attack downhill. In pass rushing scenarios, Lynch also has the experience to put his hand in the dirt and rush from the traditional end spot, allowing Allen and Chaisson to apply outside pressure. He is a versatile player and could provide some rotational depth at multiple positions if he can stay healthy in 2020. Coincidentally enough, the Jags traded with San Francisco during the 2014 NFL draft. The 49ers traded their 2nd rounder (61st overall), which the Jaguars turned into Allen Robinson, for Jacksonville’s 3rd rounder (70th overall) and 5th rounder (150th overall), which they used to draft Aaron Lynch. Trent Baalke, the Jaguars' director of player personnel, is the man who drafted Lynch in San Fran. It all comes full circle, and Lynch will have a chance to wear the teal and black in 2020.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter for all the latest Jaguars news and analysis.