Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agency
By: Jeff Doke
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
The 2021 NFL free agency free-for-all began on March 17, and it’s still up in the air whether or not the Jacksonville jaguars found a pot of gold.
The Jags started the league year with over $80 million in salary cap space, and found a couple of gems right off the bat.
The most noteworthy acquisition so far is, arguably, former Seattle Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin. The four-year veteran out of UCF had a solid 2020 campaign, posting 63 tackles, 12 coverage breakups, and three interceptions over 12 games.
His deal with Jacksonville is a 3-year, $44.5 million contract with $29 million guaranteed. It is expected that he will move immediately into a starting role opposite 2020 first-round pick C.J. Henderson.
This, combined with the re-signing of Sidney Jones, most likely means that last year’s injury-riddled season will be D.J. Harris’ last in teal & black.
Another defensive position getting some much-needed attention is Safety.
Former Charger Rayshawn Jenkins signed a 4-year, $35 million deal with $16 million guaranteed.
Another Safety, Auburn alum Rudy Ford, arrives from Philly, joining the team with a 2-year, $4.2 million contract. These two alone should provide some consistency for a wildly inconsistent defensive backfield.
Via trade, first year Head Coach Urban Meyer gets some help in the middle in the form of former Saints DT Malcom Brown.
A salary cap casualty for New Orleans, Brown joins DT Roy Robertson-Harris (CHI) and DE Jihad Ward (BAL) as the first pieces of a reworked defensive line that can easily improve on last years’ 30th ranked effort against the run.
Additionally, DT Tyson Alualu, the No. 10 overall selection by the Jaguars in 2010, returns after four years in Pittsburgh.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Jags signed two receivers off the Detroit Lions; ten-year veteran Marvin Jones Jr, and return specialist Jamal Agnew.
Jones should be a reliable target for assumed first overall pick Trevor Lawrence, and will help draw some double coverage away from DJ Chark.
Agnew is another player who will bring some consistency to their position (the Jaguars had six different kick returners last season), but whether or not his breakaway speed will be enough to earn him a WR3 slot on the offense over fellow free-agent acquisition Phillip Dorsett will be one of the more interesting stories to follow in training camp.
Regardless, the addition of this trio will help ease the sting of the pending shakeup in the Duval receivers corps.
While Keelan Cole has already signed with the Jets, the free-agent fates of former Bulldog Chris Conley and former Sooner Dede Westbrook have yet to be determined.
Another player re-joining the Jaguars is RB Carlos Hyde. Hyde played under former HC Doug Marrone in the massively under-performing 2018 season before being traded to the Browns. Hyde played college ball at Ohio State under Urban Meyer, so his familiarity with the system should make him a solid change-of-pace for second year back James Robinson.
At the Tight End position, the Jaguars have added former Panther Chris Manhertz, and have re-signed James O’Shaughnessy.
The team declined the option on former Bengal Tyler Eifert, and his status remains uncertain.
This position could be considered one of the few disappointments of the free-agent period so far, with the top two available TEs (Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith) both signing with the New England Patriots.
While these moves addressed some glaring needs on both sides of the ball, the Offensive Line still needs to be addressed, as does the elephant in the QB room – Gardner Minshew II.
With the departure of journeyman Mike Glennon to the Giants, the question remains who will be the backup to Trevor Lawrence when the draft makes his arrival in Duval official.
While Coach Meyer has said this week that they have no plans to trade Minshew “for now,” the lack of another veteran signal caller could be a final area to be addressed.
Alex Smith continues to be a name mentioned to fill that role, but if the Joe Flacco to San Francisco rumors prove false, Jacksonville could also be a good fit for the 2013 Super Bowl MVP.