With the quarterback position being the Jacksonville Jaguars most pressing and desperate need this offseason, you can expect plenty of reports, speculation, and scouting analysis revolving around college quarterback prospects here at Locked On Jaguars.
Profiles on Duke QB Daniel Jones and West Virginia QB Will Grier have already been published, and now we move on to a signal-caller who is widely speculated as a potential top-10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
The redshirt sophomore doesn’t quite fit the Parcells threshold that Jaguars EVP of Football Operations tends to follow when scouting QBs, but Haskins has enough potential to offer that he’s worth breaking the Parcells’ mold. Despite being a r-So., Haskins is currently 21 years old and will turn 22 the week after the 2019 NFL Draft (May 3rd). The single-year starter has compiled 11 wins, including over the 4th ranked Michigan, 9th ranked Penn State, and 15th ranked TCU. In those three games, Haskins went 66-108 (61.1%) for 1010 yards, 11 touchdowns and only one interception.
In his first year as a starter, the 6-3, 220 lb Haskins has already broken Big 10 records. He stands at 4081 passing yards (and counting!) and 42 passing touchdowns (and counting, too!): Both are records he set against the Michigan Wolverines.
The Jaguars have certainly gotten to know Haskins in 2018. According to a mix of sources and reports, the Jaguars have attended four Ohio State games and a practice this season, watching Haskins put on a clinic live on numerous occasions.
But we know scouting is more than looking at the box score. Haskins has certainly shown some negative attributes – what QB prospects haven’t? However, a lot of the flaws Haskins has shown this year came at the start of his tenure as starter, and he’s shown rapid, excellent growth throughout the season in the original areas of concern. On top of the “rookie jitters”, Haskins has played this well amidst enormous controversies revolving around the Ohio State football program, which are certainly a dark cloud that could easily distract any football program.
Haskins the traits that NFL folks drool over are there, which can be seen throughout his 2018 film. Lets’s dive in to some, coming from his games against Oregon State, TCU, Penn State, Maryland, and Michigan.
West Coast fit
A quick slant, released with zip on the top of the receiver’s route and accurately placed in the WR’s stride to allow yards after the catch?
Yeah, that’s a West-Coast offense throw. That’s what the Jaguars do.
Even if the Jaguars hire their offensive coordinator this offseason from outside of the organization, don’t expect major changes immediately to the offensive philosophy. There are pieces in place that fit power-run and WCO that the Jaguars can’t get rid of, namely Leonard Fournette and Dede Westbrook. It would be tough to completely reshape the offense’s identity unless they gutted the roster completely on offense, so expect a hire that maintains similar ideology but has a plan to sprinkle in more concepts, such as vertical passing, over time.
Haskins has made timing throws like this consistently throughout the 2018 season, hitting receiver accurately and in stride with a quick release and velocity to get the ball in the WR’s hands quickly.
This ball covers some ground, but it comes out as the receiver releases across the middle towards the right sideline and is placed low and away from the defender being able to make a play on it, and most importantly the receiver never slows down.
Simply put: This is a clutch, ballsy throw that you don’t normally seeing a first-year college starter making, much less confidently releasing without hesitation. Haskins tosses this pass on top of his one-step drop in the gun, and puts it right on top of the pylon away from the press-man cornerback on his receiver. Considering Haskins can make this throw, it’s hard to doubt his ability to make any short distance throw accurately. Golden.
Haskins releases this pass on top of his three-step drop with no hesitation, just s the receiver breaks on the top of his route. The ball has perfect zip, which is a constant in Haskins’ game, and gives the nickel cornerback no time to react after eyeing the running back in the flats. The receiver possesses the ball with about three ards of separation from the nearest enclosing defender, and is able to move himself into an additional five yards after the catch. The bread n’ butter of the WCO.
Growth against pressure
At the beginning of his time as Ohio State’s starting QB, Haskins didn’t have a great feel for pressure. He’d either skim through reads a little too early and/or choose to escape the pocket before options opened up, or would make errant throws in result of pressure.
Above, in Week 3, Haskins wasn’t quite “pressured” by pass rush standards, but if he waited to release the ball any longer he definitely would have been. At the same time, Haskins dismissed the need for better touch on this ball with an enclosing EDGE defender on a blitz and in result, the pass rusher was able to bat away what should have been a walk-in score on a throw to the flats. All this ball needed was another half a foot of air under it and the special teams unit would’ve made their way onto the field for the extra point.
In Week 5, Haskins and Co. were flustered by Penn State’s pass rush, and it led Haskins to panicking into decisions. It didn’t lead to turnovers, luckily, as his only interception came on a well-placed pass that bounced upwards out of his receivers hands and into a nearby defenders. But, in the above play, Haskins is forced to abandon the pocket from interior pressure (two angles). That’s fine and dandy, but Haskins escapes contact and has tons of room to work with to patiently throw to an unrushed read, and instead he panics into a tightly-covered middle of the field throw that sails incomplete.
However, here comes the previously mentioned growth. Just last week against Michigan, Haskins flashed comfort against pressure on a more consistent basis, trusting his reads and side-stepping his way into this throw to the middle of the field, with a quick rush coming from the right interior. Haskins moves in sync with the linebackers biting on the underneath game, specifically the crosser, which opened up the middle of the field that Haskins struck like an arrow in archery despite the enclosing pressure from his right and a block happening right in front of him.
Before putting his mobility on display, Haskins senses pressure immediately off of the right edge but still completes a half-field progression before sliding through the gap. Before crossing the line of scrimmage, Haskins keeps his eyes downfield to monitor anything opening on his roll-side before finally taking off. The maturity on this play is much improved from his earlier games, and without seeing these recent games, it’d be hard to expect a first-year starter to have grown this quickly – but here we are.
Later on, there will be a section with Haskins’ “wow-you” type of plays, and while this one deserves to be in that category, it’s one of his recent great plays against pressure. Once again, Haskins doesn’t shake from anticipated pressure coming off of his right side and continues to scan the field before taking advantage of a running lane to step up into the pocket. However, that lane begins to close as Haskins is on the move, which he simultaneously picks up on while noticing a WR opening up on the sideline. He delivers a front-foot laser to his receiver, which he catches and taps two feet down. However, the receiver previously stepped out of bounds on his route, negating the play, but that doesn’t negate the impressive play Haskins put together while, at the same time, displaying pocket maturity.
Room to grow: Consistent deep-ball footing and full-field progressions
When Haskins gets all of his pressure onto his front foot while heaving a deep pass, he normally puts the ball on the money, as seen above…
…However, there are inconsistencies with Haskins’ footing on deep balls.
On occasion, Haskins will leave too much pressure on his back foot through his windup while going deep, which takes juice off of the ball to push it deep and in stride. Now, this is a fixable issue and far from a concern that should drop Haskins down draft boards. At the same time, nailing down his front foot when shooting his cannon will only broaden his ability to be a complete quarterback. Because when Haskins is “on it” while delivering a deep ball, it looks something like this:
Perfect footing, perfect placement on the deep wheel : 28 air yards, 36 yard touchown. Piece of cake.
Haskins can make very impressive deep throws, he just needs to improve his consistency in this area. Some sound logic that can breed hope for Haskins’ ability to grow in this area: Ohio State doesn’t run a ton of vertical passing concepts, and focuses a lot more on short to intermediate throws with the occasional deep throw and play-action, so Haskins’ experience with going deep isn’t large. But considering the flashes he has shown when doing so, there’s a lot to be inspired by. With the right QB coach, this fine-tuning should be pretty easy to develop Haskins’ game.
Another aspect of Haskins’ game that he could grow in is full-field progressions. Ohio State runs a lot of half-field primary reads in their passing game, which Haskins has proven he can handle. However, although he does make full-field reads from time to time, he could use more experience in that field. That will just take time to pick up in whatever offense he goes to in the NFL, and he can’t be blamed for not getting many called at Ohio State. But, this is certainly something to consider early in his NFL career.
The placement Haskins puts on a lot of his passes is absolutely fantastic. Lofting this over the slightly underneath safety, this ball is kept out of reach of the draping #30… the drop from the WR sucks, no doubt, but this is a legitimate NFL throw that scouts drool over.
Once again: Placement, timing, accuracy, zip… the whole nine yards while driving the field into field goal range, down a point in the two-minute drill. ‘Nuff said.
Play-action, Haskins drops like a left-handed passer in which his body is open completely to the left. He flips his hips and body smoothly to return to his strong side, plants his foot to step up slightly to the right and away from double containing-pressure, and Haskins delivers a ball across his body without every setting his feet to the left-middle of the field. This ball has enough zip to prevent the down-coming safety from jumping it, and considering Haskins threw this off his back foot, across his body, with no set base, you can’t help but be impressed. His ability to put juice on the ball, even in unorthodox situations, is uncanny.
Eye maturity to manipulate defenders. Haskins keeps his eyes on the outside-slot receiver post, keeping the safety honest rather than jumping on the crosser from the outside WR. The safety breaks outside, and it’s game over – Haskins hits the crosser in stride and it goes for six points.
Eye maturity times two, this time being even more impressive than the last. Haskins keeps his eyes on the slot seam just inside of the numbers, at the time out of the mid-field safeties zone and in the boundary cornerback’s third. When the nickel and outside cornerbacks dedicate themselves to the seam from Haskins’ eye manipulation, the outside curl becomes wide open and Haskins gets the ball out on the very top of the route. Everything happens so quick that the dropping linebacker turns around to get a clue of what’s happening and doesn’t even realize the ball is in the outside WR’s hands. All in all, Haskins manipulates the entire top third zone and takes advantage, gaining 18 yards on what could have been a simple short curl.
Defensive holding on the top receiver takes away what would have been one of the more impressive throws Haskins has made all year. A deep fade route from the 14 yard line, Haskins puts insane touch on this pass with fantastic zip and places this ball just where it needed to be if the receiver was able to separate and not held up at the 11 yard line. This would have been a touchdown. Damn shame.
Pros and Cons
- Short/intermediate accuracy and velocity is top notch
- Sense of pressure improved tremendously over 12 game stretch
- Processes and scans half-field reads well
- Mobile and can take a hit
- Short/intermediate touch throws are very consistent
- Times drops/release with receiver route breaks well for a first-year starter
- Eye discipline and manipulation is very advanced
- Inconsistent footing when throwing deep
- Sometimes reluctant to scramble when it’s best to run
- Can try to hard to play “hero-ball” in less than ideal situations
- Lacks experience with full-field progressions
- One-year starter
Is Dwayne Haskins the typical Tom Coughlin type of QB prospect, based on the Parcells’ QB rules? No, he doesn’t meet most of the requirements as a one-year starter and redshirt sopohmore. But, Haskins possesses the tools and has grown as a quarterback so much during his first year as a starter that make him worth abandoning the Parcells’ method of scouting.
It all depends on who declares in this upcoming draft at the QB position, but there’s a real solid chance that Haskins will be available when the Jaguars are on the clock in the first round. Ideally, the team will have a bridge QB in place (perhaps Cody Kessler) who can start for the year or until Haskins is ready to debut as he takes more time to develop as a complete quarterback. And considering his ability to grow throuhgout just one season as he’s shown, he should be able to step in and perform very well when the time is right.
If Haskins were forced to start right out of the gate, the Jaguars could keep the identical offensive philosophy they have now with emphasis on power-running and West Coast passing concepts – a scheme Haskins would be incredibly comfortable throwing in. Over time, as Haskins matures at the NFL level, the Jaguars could begin to incorporate vertical passing concepts and more advanced aspects of their playbook at Haskins’ pace.
Pull the trigger, Jacksonville. With a solid floor and a very, very high ceiling, Dwayne Haskins can be the franchise QB the Jaguars have been looking for.
Jaguars sign Josh Lambo to contract extension, per report
The Jacksonville Jaguars have extended Kicker Josh Lambo’s contract according to John Reid of Jacksonville.com. Lambo was set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Lambo was originally signed during the Jaguars 2017 season after giving up on Jason Myers.
Lambo has excelled greatly in Jacksonville. In 2017, Lambo missed only one field goal and two extra points. Last season Lambo missed only two field goals and one extra point. It is safe to say that the contract extension was well deserved.
#Jaguars have signed kicker Josh Lambo to a contract extension.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 13, 2019
It is not currently known the terms of Lambo’s contract. We will update this story as more information becomes available.
Josh Lambo has confirmed the extension was for four years.
— Josh Lambo (@JoshLambo) February 13, 2019
Lambo was signed to a four-year $15.5M contract with $6.5M in full guarantees.
The #Jaguars signed K Josh Lambo to a 4-year extension worth $15.5M, source said. He gets $6.5M in full guarantees. 💰💰💰
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 13, 2019
2019 NFL Draft: Locked On Jaguars Mock Draft 1.0
The 2018 NFL season is officially over, and the draft order has been set. Although free agency is a very popular topic, the NFL draft is arguably more popular, and what a better way to express that than yet another mock draft?
While there will be many Jaguars-centric mock drafts from this website, we decided to take a crack at the entirety of the first round with the majority of our contributors. We split up the mock draft in seven parts with each person getting 4-5 picks.
Prior to the draft, we decided to change it up a little by including no trades in the draft itself, however, we did have one pre-draft trade. The Arizona Cardinals sent Josh Rosen to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for their first round pick (15th overall).
So without further adieu, I present to you the Locked On Jaguars Mock Draft 1.0:
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Christopher Thornton: Let’s blow the roof off this [redacted] place.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Zach Goodall: Duh.
3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, EDGE, UK
Noah Thomas: Allen is probably the second-best edge rusher after Bosa, and it is only fitting he goes one pick later.
4. Oakland Raiders: Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU
Zak Dewitt: The Raiders desperately need a pass rushing presence off of the edge after getting rid of Mack last year. Burns provides elite bend at that position.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Demetrius Harvey: The Buccaneers took a defensive tackle in the first round last year, and they will quite possibly do so again this year if Williams falls to them. He possesses incredible strength in the interior to hold up against the run and provides a more than adequate pass rush to boot. He’s a slam dunk pick for the Bucs considering their situation with Gerald McCoy who is a potential cap casualty this offseason.
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Ruairi Songer: As much as I would like Haskins to fall to the Jaguars, I just don’t think the Giants would let that happen without the Jaguars having to trade up. Haskins is a very efficient pocket passer, who would be an immediate upgrade over an aging Eli Manning. This will also allow the Giants to fully utilize weapons such as Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: T.J Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Dylan Goldman: I know this pick might not be the “sexy” pick, but without the two best QBs in the draft available, the Jaguars can plug another vacant hole here. Hockenson can fill the void left by Austin Seferian-Jenkins (if they do not pick up his option) at an already weak position for the Jags.
8. Detroit Lions: Jachai Polite, EDGE, UF
Christopher Thornton: Detroit lands one of the best edge rushers in the class to finally give them a longterm edge rusher with Ansah likely gone in free agency.
9. Buffalo Bills: N’Keal Harry, WR, ASU
Zach Goodall: The Buffalo Bills badly need to add weapons for second-year QB Josh Allen. While D.K Metcalf is widely viewed as WR1, he is fresh off of a neck injury that could move him down draft boards. Harry provides excellent size at 6-4, and athleticism to win contested matchups and create yards after the catch in the short game.
10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Noah Thomas: Everyone seems to be placing Lock and Elway together in a marriage. This pick is a little bit of dot connecting and need. Drew Lock is likely the third QB picked regardless.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, LSU
Zak Dewitt: With the Bengals looking to move on from Burfict, they desperately need a hard hitter in the middle and White will do well in today’s NFL.
12. Green Bay Packers: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Demetrius Harvey: Montez Sweat might have improved his draft stock tremendously at the senior bowl, and what better of a team to draft him than the Packers. For years they have lacked an edge rusher to match the production of Clay Matthews and now that Matthews is getting a little older, it is time for them to invest.
13. Miami Dolphins: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Ruairi Songer: Greedy Williams would be an excellent addition to a rapidly maturing Dolphins secondary. Adding Williams would allow the Dolphins to have more flexibility with Minkah Fitzpatrick, and would give Xavien Howard a dynamic counterpart.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Dylan Goldman: Ed Oliver is a physical freak, who Atlanta would be lucky to get and plug their hole at defensive tackle.
15. Arizona Cardinals (via WAS): Jonah Williams, LT, Alabama
Christopher Thornton: Arizona’s OL was a mess for Rosen and the Cardinals offense last year. Now, after drafting another QB top 5, they look to actually protect him and get a line for David Johnson. Williams comes in and starts day one at either left tackle or left guard.
16. Carolina Panthers: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
Zach Goodall: Panthers badly need to address their offensive line, across the board. Risner is a durable, experienced offensive lineman who can play center, right guard, and right tackle and is relatively scheme universal.
17. Cleveland Browns: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Noah Thomas: Byron Murphy would be an excellent pairing with Denzel Ward. The Browns can afford this luxury after finally getting their quarterback last year.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Zak Dewitt: The Vikings will likely run the ball more in 2019 and Cousins needs a good OL to prosper. Ford gives them a great right tackle that could play guard if needed.
19. Tennessee Titans: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
Demetrius Harvey: Mullen is the type of cornerback to perfectly fit in with Mike Vabrel and the Tennessee Titans defense. He offers enough length and physicality to match up against big corners and enough quickness in the short area to match the quick-twitch receivers in the AFC South.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Ruairi Songer: The Pittsburgh secondary desperately needs help, and luckily for them, Baker falls right into their lap at pick 20. Baker isn’t the flashiest corner, but he is technically refined and does a good job at diagnosing routes. His lack of athleticism is extremely exaggerated, as he should test as a middle of the road athlete. Baker should be able to contribute right away and should be a solid starter for years to come.
21. Seattle Seahawks: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Dylan Goldman: The Seahawks need to keep rebuilding their ever-changing defense, and Lawrence –who was a huge part of Clemson’s dynamic defense over the past few years– could really help them.
22. Baltimore Ravens: D.K Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Christopher Thornton: It seems the Ravens have been chasing that elusive WR1 for years now and they might *finally* find their man. D.K Metcalf is my WR1 and the Ravens front office should be sprinting to the podium if Metcalf is there at 22.
23. Houston Texans: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Zach Goodall: Much like my Carolina pick, Houston might need OL more than any team in this draft to protect Deshaun Watson. Taylor is a highly athletic right tackle who improved drastically this past season at UF, and he can take over right tackle duties as Kendall Lamm’s contract is up. Lamm also allowed the 2nd most pressures across the Texans OL in 2018.
24. Oakland Raiders: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Noah Thomas: Daniel Jones has to go somewhere, and Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden seemed to be very impressed with the Duke alum during the senior bowl. If the Raiders decide to get rid of Carr soon, they need someone to take over. Having three first round picks doesn’t hurt either.
25. Philidelphia Eagles: Jeffery Simmons, iDL, Mississipi State
Zak Dewitt: The bread and butter of the Eagles defense the past couple of years has been their defensive line. They add a top 10 prospect who just happens to play a “devalued” position.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
Demetrius Harvey: Besides T.Y. Hilton, the Colts have basically nobody at receiver. Butler’s stocks have been rising throughout the league, and the Colts would be pleasantly surprised if he fell to them at 26. Butler offers the size and catch radius to be Luck’s go-to receiver and complements Hilton’s quickness very well.
27. Oakland Raiders: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Ruairi Songer: The lifeless Oakland Raiders offense is in need of some playmaking wide receivers, and Jordy Nelson, Marcell Ateman, and Brandon LaFell won’t cut it. Enter Marquise Brown, the electrifying speedster out of Oklahoma, and cousin of NFL superstar Antonio Brown. Marquise is an impressive route runner, and possess elite speed and acceleration. If small size doesn’t impede his NFL development, he should be able to become a playmaker for Derek Carr (or any Quarterback) and company immediately.
28. Los Angelas Chargers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Dylan Goldman: Mack Wilson was an integral part of Alabama’s dominant defense in 2017 and 2018, and Wilson is an intriguing player to help bolster old friend Gus Bradley’s defense in Los Angelas.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Christopher Thornton: The Chiefs had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL last year, somewhat neutralizing the powerhouse of an offense they had at times. Thompson is an athletic pure safety that should fill in beautifully next to FS Eric Berry if he ever returns to his old self.
30. Green Bay Packers: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
Zach Goodall: I can’t stop lovin’ on this OL class. Aaron Rodgers should bounce back with an innovative offensive mind in Matt LaFleur as head coach, but he needs two new guards to give him time to throw. Lindstrom is the best pure guard in this class.
31. Los Angelas Rams: Jalen Jelks, DE, Oregon
Noah Thomas: Jalen Jelks is a project, but given how his senior bowl went, he could easily be the guy who makes it to the bottom of round one. He brings a versatility to the Rams defensive line which will need to be revamped given their salary cap situation coming up.
32. New England Patriots: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Zak Dewitt: Ferrell will give the Patriots a solid rusher off the edge who will allow them to still be creative with their defense.
The Jaguars should pursue running back Le’Veon Bell in free agency
The Jacksonville Jaguars enter the 2019 offseason needing to address virtually every position along the offensive side of their roster. Not every position necessarily needs a new starter, but after what was an abysmal offensive showing during the entirety of the 2018 season, nothing should be ruled out.
In which case, how about totally canning the Leonard Fournette experiment at running back and making a huge, unexpected free agency splash in targeting former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell?
It sounds really crazy at first, and many fans would hate the idea of giving up on the former 4th overall pick so quickly, but when you connect some dots and really think about the idea, it can make sense.
With the quarterback position being the biggest need this offseason, the idea of chasing Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles in either free agency or via trade is popular amongst Jaguars fans and media alike. He’s a former Super Bowl MVP who has filled in and won games when starter Carson Wentz went out with injuries. As former Jaguars and current Eagles beat writer Mike Kaye wrote on the Foles/Jaguars rumors the other day, “Foles would be the biggest celebrity in the city once he put pen to paper, even with All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey on the roster”.
However, acquiring Foles will not be cheap, and comes with a lot of risks. Sure, he played some of his best football under new Jaguars offensive coordinator and former Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo, but he’s a bit of a journeyman who’s had an up-and-down career as a whole. His first three years in Philadelphia provided flashes, including a 27 touchdown and two interception sophomore season, with 2891 passing yards and a 64% completion percentage in 13 games. However, he was traded to the St. Louis Rams after his third year with the Eagles after throwing 10 interceptions in eight games and going on the injured reserve with a broken collarbone in Week 9.
Foles looked no better in one season with the Rams than he did the year prior, throwing only seven TDs and 10 INTs in 11 games, then requesting to be released after the Rams traded up and selected QB Jared Goff with the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent the 2016 season as Alex Smith’s backup with the Kansas City Chiefs, starting one game against the Jaguars where he threw for 187 yards and a TD. Foles made his way back to Philadelphia as Wentz’s backup, and the rest is history: He’s thrown for 1950 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions in 12 games filling in for Wentz, and won the Super Bowl 52 MVP Award.
While recency bias would say Foles is a prime candidate for the Jaguars starting QB job, his shaky career history should keep Jacksonville from breaking the bank on the 30 year old signal-caller. And as mentioned previously, he’s going to be expensive. Reports broke after he bought out his team-option that the Eagles were planning on franchise tagging Foles in order to trade him away before free agency. That provides a ton of risk for Philadelphia if no team is willing to pay his franchise tag price plus trade away assets for Foles, as the tag is projected at $25 million in 2019 for quarterbacks and the Eagles reportedly are asking for a third round pick in return for Foles services.
Considering the Jaguars are currently projected to be $4,316,311 under the cap, and have so many needs on offense, it doesn’t make much sense to spend that much on a 30 year old quarterback who’s never consistently played well as a starter in the NFL.
However, the Jaguars are going to be trimming fat anyway this offseason to get into a better position with cap space. Whether it’s to go after Foles or not, the team is expected to release players such as defensive tackle Malik Jackson (clearing $11 million in cap space), right tackle Jermey Parnell ($6 million), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins ($4,328,125), running back Carlos Hyde ($4.7 million) and possibly more to get back “into the green” and be able to sign/extend players.
So, if the Jaguars are to create a bunch of cap space, chances are they’ll spend some to improve the team. But instead of going after a somewhat inconsistent and expensive quarterback, why not utilize that money on other positions and draft a young franchise quarterback instead?
Why not go after running back Le’Veon Bell?
The Jaguars are in limbo at running back, more than fans are willing to admit. Starting running back Leonard Fournette has missed 11 games in his first two seasons from a mix of lower body injuries (which were a red flag for the LSU product before he was drafted) and suspensions. When he was actually on the field, he averaged a mere 3.7 yards per carry and only 740 rushing ards per season. The team waived his guarantees in his contract following the 2018 season for his behavior – he now has to earn every penny on his originally fully-guaranteed rookie deal. In all honesty, his situation has become a real headache, and the team has the ability to move on from his deal easier now than before his guarantees were waived.
The No. 2 RB T.J. Yeldon, who played well in place of Fournette during the 11 games he has missed, won’t be returning to the team as things stand. His rookie contract is up, and he will likely cash in on the free agency market beyond what the Jaguars would be able to pay him for his No. 2 role. A team will pay him to be their starter after he averaged 5.7 yards per touch and scored five total touchdowns in a reserve role in 2018. Also, his “liked” tweets on Twitter are pretty damning:
If I’m TJ Yeldon, I clean my locker out today and say toodles to the Jags for good.
— Matt Foreman (@FattMoreman) December 30, 2018
The Jaguars could easily shake up their RB room this offseason, and Le’Veon Bell could come in and provide elite ability not only as a runner but as a receiver and pass blocker – he’s arguably the best all-around running back the NFL has seen in recent history. He sat out the entire 2018 season due to contract issues, but he had back-to-back 1200 rushing yard seasons in 2016-17, with 16 rushing touchdowns and averaging 4.45 yards per carry. On top of that, Bell caught 160 passes for 1271 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He literally had the 10th most receptions in the NFL in 2018 (85), among wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs. That’s insane.
Le’Veon Bell would walk into Jacksonville as one of the team’s best running backs in franchise history. Obviously, he’d be behind Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, but he’s far ahead of the team’s third all-time leading rusher James Stewart by almost 3000 rushing yards. In only two more career games.
Let’s get down to the money: Bell sat out during the 2018 season because he demanded high guarantees in his next long-term contract, as well as being the highest-paid RB in the league – but the Steelers wouldn’t give him what he wanted. Here’s a quote from his agent that makes Bell’s demands appear well-thought out:
“The Steelers have a unique way of structuring deals,” Bakari said. “These contracts are not fully guaranteed. Le’Veon plays a position that has one of the shortest lifespans in the league. We have to focus on the guarantee. It’s safe to say he’ll get a guarantee [as a free agent] that is more traditional, and he’ll be protected for the balance of his career.”
Based on these statements and how running backs are currently paid, Bell is in line to make a boat-load this offseason. Todd Gurley, the NFL’s highest paid RB, averages $14.3 million a year on his new deal with $45 million in guarantees, including a $21 million signing bonus.
So, one should expect Bell to come in around $14.5 million a year with frontloaded guarantees. My personal projection: Five years, $72.5 million, with $50 million in guarantees spread out over the first three years of the deal, and a large signing bonus around $20 million to knock out 40% of the guarantees. And if the Jaguars release the players stated above, and perhaps a couple of others, they could afford this – in fact, he’d be cheaper than Nick Foles on a year-to-year basis from all angles.
This type of move would be an earthquake across the NFL, but while it seems crazy, it could reap benefits. The Jaguars would hold onto the draft pick they’d have to send to the Eagles for Foles, and save an average of about $10 million in contract value per year (before guarantees factor in). In doing so, the Jaguars would land one of the leagues best running backs and a player who puts up top-20 production as a receiver, all in one, while holding onto funds to pay players such as cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue down the line.
In this situation, it would become clear the Jaguars would want to draft their own quarterback, and Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins would make sense. The Jaguars would likely have to trade up for Haskins, with the 4th overall pick being the sweet spot in order to not give up many assets and still solidify themselves above other quarterback-needy teams, but trading up in the draft to land a quarterback on the slotted-rookie contract (which would be around $7-8 million a year) makes a lot more sense than trading away assets to pay an inconsistent QB $25 million a year.
And for Fournette, it’s safe to assume he’d be traded away in this situation. While he could net the Jaguars something like a late third round/early fourth round pick, it’d be interesting to see if they could package him into the draft-day trade up for a quarterback. But if not, at least they can regain some draft day value by shipping him away and continue to address the offense.
Imagine a Jaguars offense with Dwayne Haskins under center, and Le’Veon Bell handling not only running back duties, but providing a legitimate receiving option for the young quarterback? Plus whoever else they draft, as well as in-house weapons such as Dede Westbrook and second-year WR D.J. Chark.
It’s far-fetched, and these moves would take the entire NFL by storm, but this would be a fantastic way to fix the Jaguars offensive woes heading into the 2019 season, while also saving more money than what it would take to pay Nick Foles.
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