The Jaguars are one of four teams with a vacancy at general manager. Dave Caldwell didn't get the job done in Jacksonville, guiding the team to just one playoff appearance in eight seasons, but he also didn't leave the cupboard bare for his replacement. The Jaguars have an arsenal of draft picks in 2021, the most salary cap space in football, and a fair amount of young talent already on the roster. Still, the next Jaguars' GM will be thrust into a pressure cooker with a city and fanbase starved for sustained success.
Before he or she dives headfirst into free agency and the draft, they'll need to decide which players currently on the roster should stick around for the next era of Jacksonville football.
Let's take a look at the offensive side of the ball today and save the defense for a later post.
QB: Mike Glennon, Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton
The Jaguars don't have a franchise quarterback, but they do have several candidates to be a long term backup. Glennon played well in his lone start for the Jags against a depleted Browns' defense and will start against the Vikings in week 13. It'd be easy to suggest that Glennon or Minshew should be the Jaguars' primary backup in 2020. Keeping one of the two around makes a lot of sense. Glennon, however, is only under contract through 2020, so he could depart via free agency. Minshew is the type of player that could provide a spark off the bench in case of injury to the starter or in mop-up duty and should be kept on the roster. Luton is still a developmental prospect and could potentially be a third quarterback for the Jaguars. Overall, none of these guys are must keep, but Glennon and Minshew are quality backup candidates.
RB: James Robinson, Dare Ogunbowale, Chris Thompson, Devine Ozigbo, Ryquell Armstead
The only running back who should be guaranteed a roster spot here is James Robinson, who has proven he can be a workhorse three-down back in this league. The rest of the guys could certainly stick around if healthy. Ozigbo was impressive throughout training camp and in the preseason for the Saints in 2019. Ognbowale and Thompson are both nice third-down backs. Dare provides more special team value. We have no clue where Armstead is after a long stint on the COVID list. It wouldn't surprise me to see Robinson as the only holdover from this room.
WR: DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Keelan Cole, Collin Johnson, Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, Terry Godwin, Trey Quinn
Chark and Shenault are the obvious priorities here. Chark enters the final year of his rookie deal in 2021 and will earn a lucrative contract if he can continue to produce and have better luck with his health. Viska will be entering his second year as a pro and should be a key piece for the Jaguars' offense. Cole is a fantastic role player and is set to be a free agent after 2020 and could be on his way to a big paycheck. The Jaguars might opt not to pay him as much as he could earn on the free-agent market. Collin Johnson is a rookie, who when given the opportunity, has looked the part. He's got a massive frame, catch radius and more than enough speed. He should be in the long term plans for the next GM. Dede, Terry, and Trey are all expendable at this point. The Jaguars have a solid core of young receivers.
TE: Tyler Eifert, James O'Shaughnessy, Josh Oliver, Ben Ellefson
Josh Oliver is the most intriguing name here. He hasn't been able to stay healthy but has the athleticism and upside to be a seam stretcher. Eifert has played fairly well for the Jaguars in his first year in Jacksonville, and O'Shaughnessy has proven to be a steady contributor at the position. A complete overhaul, outside of keeping Oliver around, wouldn't be shocking. Eifert has done enough to hold a starting job somewhere but certainly isn't a must keep as the Jags would save $5 million in cap space next year by releasing him.
OL: Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, AJ Cann, Jawaan Taylor, Ben Bartch, Will Richardson, Tyler Shatley, KC McDermott
The starting lineup from left to right of Robinson, Norwell, Linder, Cann, and Taylor has been an excellent run-blocking group in 2020 but has left a little to be desired in pass pro. The worst pass protector has been Jawaan Taylor, who is in his second year, but he should be given another shot to progress in 2021. Cam Robinson is in the final year of his rookie deal and has developed into an adequate starting left tackle. I wouldn't pay him more than $10-12 million per year with two years guaranteed because while he's not a significant liability, the Jaguars could undoubtedly do better on the left side. Andrew Norwell is pricey but has been playing well in 2020 at left guard. I'd keep him for another year. Brandon Linder continues to be one of the top centers in the league and should stick around. At right guard, AJ Cann is in the final year of his contract and has been impressive in 2020, but overall has been inconsistent throughout his career. I could take him or leave him. Rookie Ben Bartch is still developing after making the jump from Division II and should be given more time to grow in Jacksonville. Tyler Shatley is a versatile interior offensive lineman that should stick around as a backup. Will Richardson is versatile but is he effective? McDermott is expendable.
There it is, folks. The players that the Jaguars absolutely must keep around on offense are DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Collin Johnson, James Robinson, Brandon Linder, Jawaan Taylor, and Ben Bartch. While not required, I'd also keep Andrew Norwell, Gardner Minshew, Tyler Shatley, Josh Oliver, James O'Shaughnessy, Devine Ozigbo, Will Richardson, and Dare Ogunbowale. I'm unsure about the Cam Robinson situation. How much will he earn? Do you want an average to below average guy to man the left side?
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