The Jaguars have signed veteran defensive end Arden Key to a one-year deal. Key is 25 years old and coming off the best season of his four-year career. Key visited with multiple teams last week prior to signing with the Jaguars, including the Lions and Ravens. According to Mike Garofolo, the contract is worth up to $7 million.
The 6'5", 240-pound LSU product was a third-round pick by the Raiders in 2018. After registering only 49 tackles and three sacks in his first three seasons in the NFL, Key was waived by Las Vegas.
He signed on with the 49ers in 2021 and had by far the best season of his career. As a rotational pass rusher for San Francisco, Key notched 39 pressures, 14 quarterback hits, and 6.5 sacks in 310 pass-rush snaps last season.
Much of his pass rush production came when he kicked inside, aligning between the guard and the tackle. He used his long arms, strong hands, and quickness to gain the advantage over lesser athletes on the interior.
Key joins a defensive line that features a growing rotation. He and Foley Fatukasi have joined via free agency in 2022. The Jaguars are attempting to improve a defensive front that lacked pass rush consistency in 2021. They finished the season with 32 sacks, tied for the fifth-worst mark in the NFL.
My take: Arden Key will not come in and be the long-term answer for the Jaguars opposite Josh Allen. If that's what the Jaguars are thinking with this signing, they'll likely wind up disappointed. Instead, Key should be viewed as a rotational pass rusher who can align and win in multiple spots along the defensive front. He can generate interior pressure in clear passing situations, making life easier for edge rushers. Adding Arden Key to the defensive front is a step in the right direction for the Jaguars. At just 25, Key could become a long-term fixture in Jacksonville. While I don't think he should be counted on a starter, Key might be the second best pass rusher on the Jaguars' roster right now. They still need another starting-caliber EDGE defender, preferably one with Pro Bowl upside.
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