The Jaguars, like the rest of the clubs around the NFL, have had a busy week. Between using their franchise tag, press conferences from the head coach and the general manager, and preparing for the opening of free agency next week, there has been little time to rest.
GM Trent Baalke met with the media on Wednesday and revealed quite a bit about the team's philosophy regarding talent acquisition and several other key topics.
"Value" was a word that kept coming up for Baalke on Wednesday. When talking about free agency and the draft, he hammered home the need for value. "We're looking at a lot of different positions and a lot of different players, and the key word there was value," said Baalke. "We're looking for value. That isn't always the most expensive player. There's all different levels of 'like.' When we say we like a player, to what level and what value do we place on him? So, that's going to be critical as we build this team out moving forward is making sure we get the value of the position and the player correct."
He continued to smash home the idea of value when asked about talent versus need. "It depends on what that level of 'isn't as good' is," Baalke responded. "I think you're always looking to add the best of the best to the roster. You never go wrong by creating more depth at any position and what you're trying to do is build as competitive a roster as possible with the best available players. We've always placed a little less value on need, more value on the value of the player itself, so that's how we'll continue to look at it. But if the need and the value coincide, then we'll go with need."
A common refrain heard from countless GMs over the years. Will Baalke and company stick to their guns when the rubber meets the road? We'll find out in the coming weeks and months.
Free Agent Spending
"As far as spending, we're always going to look to push the envelope and spend to the cap on a three-year rolling cycle, whether you're above or below, but over a three-year period hoping to spend to the cap," said Baalke. "We have an ownership that's willing to do that and we want to do that, so we're going to use the dollars. I spoke earlier about value, I think value's critical. You have to get the value of the players right. Just like building a stock portfolio, if you get a bunch of overpriced stocks, you buy high and sell low, eventually that catches up with you. So, we want to treat the players right and value them correctly and bring them into the organization and give them the best of the best, and that's what we're looking to do."
Spending to the cap is indeed what the Jaguars and other teams around the league should look to do over a three-year cycle. The three years comes into play because with the way contracts are written these days, you can usually get out of a bad signing with minimal damage after two-three years. This model allows clubs to spend the full amount allotted to them over three years, including roll-over cap, but also gives the team flexibility. The Jaguars will be very, very active in free agency. Having Shad Khan's seemingly limitless checkbook helps lure in the big fish, giving the Jaguars the ability to write massive signing bonuses into contracts. Hopefully, Baalke can accurately forecast the market and, as he said, "get the values of the players right."
Meetings with Trevor
"You're only allowed five virtual meetings with prospects," said Baalke. "I believe we've used two up right now with Trevor. I have not been on those. Those have been more coach-oriented. I will be on one as we move forward, but the restriction of five one-hour sessions per prospect kind of limits us to exactly what we can do."
I find it fascinating that Baalke has yet to join the coaches in meeting with Lawrence. To me, it furthers the narrative that Lawrence will be the guy on draft night. If I were the GM of a club, you could bet I'd at least be present in those meetings.
Salary Cap Set
The NFL officially set the 2021 salary cap at $182.5 million on Wednesday Even after placing the franchise tag on Cam Robinson, which cost the team $13.74 million in 2021 cap space, the Jags lead the league in available cap space at $73.67 million. While nine would be free agents received the franchise tag, there will still be a plethora of talented players hitting the open market next week, with more players getting cut daily. On offense, the Jaguars will look to add talent at tight end and receiver, and perhaps running back. On defense, they'll be searching for skilled players along their front and in the secondary.
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