The Jaguars should be all-in on defensive tackle DJ Reader.
I'm glad you asked.
He's the perfect fit for what the Jaguars' defense currently needs. As their roster stands today, the Jaguars don't have a run-stuffing defensive tackle. And while that role has been devalued, thanks to a pass-happy NFL landscape, it's still a position that the Jaguars MUST fill before the start of the 2020 season. Marcell Dareus did an admirable job in Jacksonville for much of the last three seasons. But a core muscle injury and age have made Dareus a much less attractive option.
Enter DJ Reader. The six-foot-three, 347-pound behemoth, turns 26 later this year. Entering the prime of his career, Reader is set to make a pretty penny this offseason. He's been an elite run defender for the Texans for the last three seasons and provides plenty of interior push on pass rush downs. Over the previous two seasons, he picked up 60 total pressures from the interior.
He's in line to sign a deal worth over $11 million. Javon Hargrave, who brings quite a bit more than Reader does in the pass rush department, agreed to a deal with the Eagles yesterday worth $13 million per year.
Is Reader worth the price? The answer is a resounding yes, especially when you look at what the Jaguars' salary cap situation will look like after the 2020 season. With the NFL expected to reach new, record-setting agreements with broadcast networks this summer, the salary cap will likely rise to well over $200 million in 2021. As for how Reader would impact the Jaguars' 2020 salary cap situation, a deal worth around $11 million per year would probably count about $4-6 million against the cap this season, assuming the Jaguars use a signing bonus to mitigate his first-year cap hit. The Jaguars would easily be able to afford Reader in 2020 and beyond.
I'll always be a fan of poaching high-quality talent from division rivals. All three of the Jaguars' AFC South opponents feature rush-heavy offensive attacks. Adding DJ Reader in the middle would help the Jaguars slow down David Johnson, Marlon Mack, and Derrick Henry in 2020.
The Broncos have been the team most-linked to Reader over the past 24 hours, but the Jaguars have swooped in on the Broncos in years past. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jaguars make a strong push there. Of course, there are other talented defensive tackles on the market, but none with the winning combination of talent, age, and size that Reader possesses.
And there's always the draft. If the Jaguars fail to add an impact defensive tackle in the coming days, it won't be the end of the world. Talented defensive tackles like Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw would transform the Jaguars' defensive interior, but are they worth a first-round pick when the team has so many other needs? After round one, the Jaguars could target Davon Hamilton and a host of other big defensive tackles, but would they have the type of impact in year one that the Jaguars will need to be competitive against the run?
If I were Dave Caldwell, I'd do my best to bring in DJ Reader on a long-term deal. He's also a community first type of guy, so you're not going to be adding a toxic personality to the locker room.
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