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2019 NFL Free Agency: Which free agents should the Jaguars target?

Demetrius Harvey

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Feb 27, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell speaks to media during the 2019 NFL Combine at Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

NFL free agency is quickly approaching, and while the Jaguars may not be major players this year in terms of signing several big-money free agents, there still are a few positions the Jaguars would like to upgrade.

After missing the postseason in 2018, the Jaguars have holes to fill. This is not only due to the injuries along the offensive line but also due to a total lack of talent at certain positions, particularly at quarterback, tight end, and the OL.

The Jaguars, currently, are set to enter the 2019 season with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler as the two primary quarterbacks. However, that can change quickly depending on what occurs during free agency and the draft. Blake Bortles will likely be released, although general manager Dave Caldwell has suggested otherwise recently. Either way, the Jaguars will be addressing this position at some point and it very well might come via free agency.

The Jaguars struggled to get anything out of the tight end position after Austin Seferian-Jenkins landed on injured reserve and was recently released earlier this month. The Jaguars will enter 2019 with receiver-turned tight end Pharoah McKever, and Ben Koyack at the tight end position. This position needs fresh bodies, to say the least.

As for the offensive line concerns for the Jaguars, they recently released long-time right tackle Jermey Parnell. During the season they lost three out of five starting offensive linemen due to injury, including Cam Robinson (week 2 — ACL), Brandon Linder (week 10 — knee), and Andrew Norwell (week 12 — foot).

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the offensive line, and in particular at right tackle and right guard. After the release of Jermey Parnell on Friday, the Jaguars have only Will Richardson — 2018 4th round pick — as an option.  Richardson played a whopping 0 snaps last year in the regular season and will be looking to compete this summer for the position.

The other completely uncertain position along the offensive line is at right guard. With guard A.J. Cann likely moving on from the team, the Jaguars are completely baren at right guard making it one of the most important positions the Jaguars have to fill. Whether it be via draft or free agency, they will have to figure this out.

There are several players that may fit the Jaguars criteria in free agency, and although there may only be one or two big signings this time around, I still expect the Jaguars to be active as they have always been active in free agency during the Dave Caldwell era. Although there may only be offensive players listed here, that is for a reason. The Jaguars may address a couple of depth positions on defense this offseason, however, they are unlikely to be major players in that area. The offense will be, and should be, the priority for the Jaguars.


Quarterback

Nick Foles — Eagles

The Jaguars will be searching far and wide for a quarterback this offseason and one quarterback who continuously is brought up is former Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.

Foles began his career in 2012 as a 4th round pick out of Arizona to the Philidelphia Eagles. In his career, Foles has completed 61% of his passes for 11,165 yards, 68 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions. He has had success in the past two seasons winning the Superbowl for the Eagles in 2017 and taking them to the divisional round of the playoffs in 2018 after multiple injuries to starting quarterback Carson Wentz.

For the Jaguars this signing makes sense. Not only due to the connection to new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo but with his success and leadership ability the Jaguars desperately need to regain control of the huddle. Foles *should* be able to do this.

What makes this move less than ideal is absolutely the price tag. The Jaguars recently cleared ~$30M in cap space by releasing Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Carlos Hyde, Jermey Parnell, and Carson Tinker. Although that will be enough to sign the quarterback, considerations need to be made for the rest of the team.

Projected salary: 3 years, $56M, $20M guaranteed

Teddy Bridgewater — New Orleans Saints

Teddy Bridgewater is another quarterback the Jaguars have been reportedly interested in. Bridgewater was originally the 32nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft to the Minnesota Vikings. During his two seasons with the Vikings, he compiled a completion percentage of 64.4% with 6,268 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.

Before Bridgewater could enter his third year with the team, he suffered a devastating knee injury which set him back for the next two years of his deal until he was eventually allowed to walk in free agency.

Last season, Bridgewater made his first start since prior to his injury completing 63.6% of his passes for 118 yards with one touchdown and one interception. One of the major reasons why the Jaguars may be interested in Bridgewater is his potential. Although he has not played long in the league due to his knee injury, he has still been efficient enough to become a bridge-type (no pun intended) quarterback while the Jaguars draft someone to eventually take over the starting role.

The biggest issue is with Bridgewater is his durability. Although he has yet to be injured since his catastrophic knee injury during the 2016 offseason, he has also yet to be able to play much at all regardless. The Jaguars will likely still have the issues they had with him that they have always had.

Projected salary: 2 years, $10M, $5M guaranteed

Honorable mentions: Josh McCown (Jets), Tyrod Taylor (Browns)

Offensive Line

Andy Levitre — Atlanta Falcons

Levitre is an impending free agent who last played with the Atlanta Falcons after being traded to the team from the Tennesee Titans in 2015. He was not able to stay healthy with the Falcons incurring a triceps injury in both 2017 and 2018. While he was injury-prone during his time there, the Falcons were still able to have success with him as a major contributor to an otherwise average offensive line.

The issue with Levitre is his injury history as well as his regression of his play in the past couple of years. However, with A.J. Cann likely departing in free agency the Jaguars need to address the right guard position in any way they possibly can. Levitre would be an experienced guard on a team lacking serious depth or experience.

Projected salary: 1 year, $2.5M

T.J. Lang — Detroit Lions

Lang was recently released by the Detroit Lions due to cap ramifications as well as his injury history. Lang has suffered multiple concussions throughout his career as well as a neck injury. If Lang can come to the Jaguars and stay healthy he would make for a very reliable and consistent guard in an effort to replace A.J. Cann. The Jaguars will surely be signing some sort of offensive lineman. Lang has the added benefit of being versatile. He can play tackle as well as guard.

Projected salary: 1 year, $3.5M

Honorable mentions: Billy Turner (Broncos), James Carpenter (Jets)

Running Back

Latavius Murray — Vikings

Latavius Murray may be one of the most obvious players for the Jaguars to sign. The Jaguars currently have Leonard Fournette, David Williams, and Thomas Rawls. Williams carried the football 8 total times for 36 yards, and Rawls has played 0 snaps for the Jaguars.

Murray also has strong ties to the Jaguars with their new offensive coordinator being John DeFilippo who coached Murray in Oakland (2013-2014) and in Minnesota during last season before Defillippo was fired as offensive coordinator.

Murray would bring more of a supplement to Leonard Fournette in the same way the Jaguars hoped Carlos Hyde would during last season. He has accumulated 3,698 yards for 4.1 yards-per-carry and 34 touchdowns. He also had 128 receptions and 883 yards.

Projected salary: 2 years, $8M

Mark Ingram — Saints

Mark Ingram is more of a longshot for the Jaguars, however, he would also be a great compliment to Leonard Fournette. Ingram has had a sort of resurgence to his career with the addition of Alvin Kamara in New Orleans accounting for over 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons. If the Jaguars are searching for a good mentor for Fournette, Ingram would be a fantastic fit.

Projected salary: 3 years, $18M

Honorable mentions: Frank Gore (Dolphins), Bilal Powell (Jets), Alfred Blue (Texans)

Tight End

Jesse James — Steelers

As stated before, the Jaguars are in desperate need for a tight end this offseason. Jesse James has been an above average blocker for the Steelers the past few seasons and has had some success in the receiving game accounting for 120 receptions for 1,189 yards and nine touchdowns thus far in his career.

James makes the most sense for the Jaguars, and there are some rumors the Jaguars may be interested as well.

Projected salary: 5 years, $30M

Tyler Eifert — Bengals

Eifert is a player the Jaguars may have a little bit of interest in as he would come cheap due to his injury history. Eifert entered the NFL in 2014 with the Cincinnati Bengals but has been snake-bit with injuries throughout his career. If the Jaguars were to sign him he would be cheap.

Eifert has a ton of upside with his best season coming in 2015 accumulating 52 receptions for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. If the Jaguars can muster some amount of success with him, it would be a major win for them and Eifert himself.

Projected salary: 1 year, $2M

Honorable mentions: Demetrius Harris (Chiefs), Jared Cook (Oakland), Luke Wilson (Detroit)

Wide Receiver

Golden Tate — Lions

Although it may seem like a reach, the Jaguars will likely want to target a wide receiver or two during the offseason. With Marqise Lee coming back from a devastating knee injury, and Keelan Cole regressing a bit last season the Jaguars need to add something there. Golden Tate would be an ideal fit at receiver in my opinion. Tate last played with the Philadelphia Eagles after being traded midseason by the Detriot Lions.

Tate has accumulated 611 receptions for 7,214 yards and 42 touchdowns over his 10-year career. Tate is more known for his aggressive nature at receiver playing similarly to a running back at receiver like Anquan Boldin. If the Jaguars want to add a veteran presence to their receiver room, Tate would make the most sense.

There is a connection here. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey:

Projected salary: 3 years, $27M

John Brown — Ravens

Brown began his career with the Arizona Cardinals. He had a breakout year in 2015 accumulating 65 catches for 1,003 yards and 7 touchdowns. Due to injuries, Brown’s play tapered off after that until his resurgence in Baltimore just last year. Brown had 42 receptions for 715 yards and five touchdowns. If the Jaguars would like some depth in the same vein as Donte Moncrief was last season they could turn to Brown. Brown at the very least is a much better route runner than Moncrief with similar speed on the outside.

projected salary: 2 years, $10M

Honorable mentions: Adam Humpries (Buccaneers), Randall Cobb (Packers), Pierre Garcon (49ers), Jermaine Kearse (Jets)

Demetrius Harvey is the lead editor for the Locked on Jaguars website covering breaking news, breakdowns, and more. You can follow him at @Demetrius82 on twitter.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

What should the Jaguars do at linebacker with Myles Jack?

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 14, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) warms up prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Due to the unexpected leave of absence by Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, the Jaguars have found themselves in a precarious situation. Telvin Smith had been the Jaguars starting weak-side linebacker since his rookie year in 2014. Starting 69 games since 2014 Smith has accumulated a total of 445 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and nine interceptions.

The Jaguars are going to absolutely struggle to replace his production, regardless of how anyone felt about how he played during the 2018-2019 season. The first name which comes to mind in discussing what should happen at the weak-side linebacker position is Myles Jack.

Prior to 2018, Jack started all over the field for the Jaguars. During the 2017 season, Jack was the Jaguars starting middle linebacker in nickel situations — splitting time with former Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny in base formations. Finally being allowed to start full time for the Jaguars, Jack had a solid season by all accounts accumulating 107 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception — his best season statistically as a Jaguar.

One of the primary issues the Jaguars have had on defense has been communication issues. Communication issues can come from any level of the defense, however, the middle linebacker is essentially the quarterback. He calls the plays in the huddle or just prior to the snap, and lines everyone up. Having someone more experienced or as experienced as Jack at this position is crucial. This begs the question — should Myles Jack move to weak-side linebacker?

Jack recently spoke out against the idea of moving to Will talking to John Reid of Jacksonville.com and other local media members at Calais Campbell’s second annual bowling classic event, “I’m playing Mike ’backer, there’s no question about it,” Jack stated. “Obviously, there’s no secret we’re going to have to find a Will (weak-side linebacker). As for me, I’m playing Mike until my time up here in Jacksonville is done.″

It is completely understandable why Jack would not want to change positions as he has his entire career thus far in Jacksonville. The Jaguars should think long and hard about which configuration is best for the football team. Having to throw in someone new such as Jake Ryan immediately into the fray could potentially ruin any good momentum you already had at the position.

One of the best possible outcomes would be for rookie third-round pick Quincy Williams to win the weak-side linebacker battle outright. Although he is obviously very raw coming out of Murray State, the Jaguars stated in their post-draft presser that Williams has “starter traits”. If they have to move Jack, there will be potentially three completely new starters for the Jaguars at the linebacker positions on opening day. The Jaguars will likely want to keep the defense intact going into the 2019 season.

Jake Ryan was signed by the Jaguars earlier this offseason. And although he has plenty of experience at inside linebacker — two years starting with the Packers –, he is not even one year removed from a torn ACL. Not only will Ryan be behind in terms of on-field play, but he is also brand new to the Jaguars defense — although it is someone vanilla. All of the struggles Jack had at MLB last year may be amplified with Ryan this year.

Potential Starting Combinations:

WLB — Quincy Williams
MLB — Myles Jack
SLB — Jake Ryan

Pros:

  • Myles Jack stays at one position for longer than a season
  • Jaguars can get Jake Ryan on the field in some capacity

Cons:

  • Rookie weak-side linebacker

WLB — Quincy Williams
MLB — Myles Jack

SLB — Josh Allen

Pros:

  • Myles Jack at a consistent position
  • Josh Allen playing a primary role on defense
  • The speed at the LB position

Cons:

  • Lack of experience at two LB spots
  • Myles Jack possibly not at “natural” position

WLB — Myles Jack
MLB — Jake Ryan

SLB — Josh Allen

Pros:

  • Myles Jack moves back to his natural position
  • Jake Ryan offers veteran experience and leadership at MLB position
  • Josh Allen gains experience at linebacker in year one

Cons:

  • Myles Jack moving positions again
  • Jake Ryan first-year Jaguars MLB coming off a torn ACL

Solution: 

The Jaguars may feel the best configuration for their initial starting lineup at linebacker will be to allow Myles Jack to start his contract year at middle linebacker. Jack — having a full year starting at MLB — will be much more comfortable and allow the Jaguars to have some continuity at the position for the first time in three years. This leaves Quincy Williams as the starter at weak-side linebacker in his rookie year.

Whether it be Jake Ryan starting out at SAM or Josh Allen, the Jaguars should be happy about the production coming from the strong-side linebacker position. Josh Allen may not start out right away due to being primarily in a pass-rushing role during his rookie year, however — with experience –, he may be able to give the Jaguars no choice in the matter.

The most uncomfortable part of this formation would be the Jaguars starting two rookies on their defense. Inexperience on the Jaguars defense could be their Achilles heel. If the Jaguars were to start both rookies at linebacker, the Jaguars would have a combined 10 starts between four starters in the Jaguars defense. Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison have started 10 games together.

Whatever the Jaguars choose initially with their starting combination at linebacker, it could very easily be changed before the regular season begins. The Jaguars did not want to have to make this many changes to their defense in such a short period, however, Telvin Smith has forced their hand.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars workout free agent RB Mike Gillislee

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 9, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee (35) stiff arms Washington Redskins linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (51) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

As the Jaguars prepare to open up voluntary OTAs next week, they are still forming their ideal 90-man roster. A position which has been completely revamped has been the RB position. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Jaguars brought in former Patriots and Saints RB Mike Gillislee for a workout.

Gillislee most recently played for the New Orleans Saints only seeing action in four games accumulating 43 yards on 16 attempts and zero touchdowns. His most successful season came as a member of the Buffalo Bills where he accumulated 576 yards on 101 attempts and nine touchdowns.

The Jaguars attempted to sign him last year, however, he signed with the Saints. The Jaguars may want to simply do their due diligence on a running back they had a prior interest in, just in case.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars 53-Man Roster Prediction: Undrafted city of the south?

Connor Neal

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Sep 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; A view of the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium during the second half of a football game at EverBank Field.The Green Bay Packers won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

May 9th was a busy day for the Jaguars. On top of Telvin Smith announcing that he will step away from football for the 2019 season, they also finalized their 90-man roster. I wanted to take a deeper dive into each position to see who will make the final roster. There is a lot of talent the Jaguars will have to part within these coming months.

I will be breaking down each position individually.

Quarterback (3): 

Nick Foles (Starter), Gardner Minshew (Backup), Alex McGough (3rd String)

The true battle here is between Alex McGough and Tanner Lee for a roster spot.

Runningback (4):

Leonard Fournette (Starter), Ryquell Armstead (Backup), Alfred Blue (3rd String), Benny Cunningham (4th String)

I believe Ryquell Armstead will earn the backup position to Leonard Fournette before the season starts. Once Fournette goes down with an injury, don’t be surprised if Armstead blows you away with his talent. Thomas Rawls isn’t likely to make the roster but the Jaguars could give him a roster spot over Benny Cunningham if they so choose.

Wide Receiver (6):

Dede Westbrook (Starter), Marqise Lee (Starter), Chris Conley (Starter), DJ Chark Jr (Backup), Keelan Cole (3rd String), Tyre Brady (4th String)

Tyre Brady is a player who could jeopardize Keelan Cole’s roster spot if he shines in rookie camp. Cole’s performance last year was disappointing, especially after he stood out as an undrafted rookie. Chris Conley, currently, is better than DJ Chark. DJ Chark has the potential to be a good starting wide receiver in the NFL, but he has to develop first.

Tight End (3):

Josh Oliver (Starter), Geoff Swaim (Backup), James O’Shaughnessy (3rd String)

Josh Oliver, Jaguars third-round pick out of San Jose State, will likely be the starter. However, because Oliver has virtually no blocking skills Geoff Swaim will be the lead blocking tight end on the team.

Offensive Tackle (4):

Cam Robinson (Starter), Jawaan Taylor (Starter), Will Richardson (Backup), Josh Wells (Backup)

There aren’t many surprises at this position. The Jaguars former second-round pick, Cam Robinson, and this year’s first-round pick, Jawaan Taylor, will be starters. Jawaan Taylor will compete with Will Richardson for the starting right tackle position. However, it shouldn’t be hard for Taylor to secure that starting spot.

Offensive Guard (4):

Andrew Norwell (Starter), AJ Cann (Starter), KC McDermott (Backup), Donnell Greene (Backup)

AJ Cann could make right guard the biggest need for the Jaguars this coming season. Cann is a bad offensive lineman, who will have the starting role because of lack of competition. It was surprising the Jaguars didn’t draft a guard during the 2019 NFL Draft. Keep an eye out for Donnell Greene, an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota.

Center (2):

Brandon Linder (Starter), Tyler Shatley (Backup)

Brandon Linder, a converted guard, has been outstanding thus far through his career as a center. His starting spot will not be at risk.

Defensive Tackle (5):

Calais Campbell (Starter), Marcell Dareus (Starter), Taven Bryan (Backup), Abry Jones (Backup), Dontavius Russell (3rd String)

In this scenario, I have the Jaguars pushing Calais Campbell inside to defensive tackle. If they chose to start Josh Allen at EDGE, Campbell should be pushed inside as he will beat out Taven Bryan with ease. It isn’t likely the Jaguars chose to do this, but if they do, their defensive line will be scary good.

Defensive End (4):

Yannick Ngakoue (Starter), Josh Allen (Starter), Dawuane Smoot (Backup), Lerentee McCray (Backup)

As I mentioned earlier, I have the Jaguars starting Josh Allen at EDGE instead of Campbell. If the Jaguars decide to start Campbell at EDGE, which is likely, Allen could start for the Jaguars at linebacker if they want to utilize him instantly.

Linebacker (5):

Myles Jack (Starter), Jake Ryan (Starter), Quincy Williams (Starter), Leon Jacobs (Backup), Joe Giles-Harris (Backup)

Quincy Williams, the shocking third-round pick, has a good chance to start since Telvin Smith will not play football in this upcoming season. If the Jaguars choose to play Josh Allen at linebacker, he would fit best at strong-side linebacker. So, they could shift Myles Jack over to weak-side linebacker and have Jake Ryan start at middle linebacker instead. If that happens, Quincy Williams will not start. Once Telvin Smith broke the news that he will not return this year, the chances of Joe Giles-Harris’s chances of making the roster skyrocketed. Giles-Harris is a player I personally would have been fine with the Jaguars taking in the third-round over Quincy Williams.

Cornerback (6): 

Jalen Ramsey (Starter), AJ Bouye (Starter), DJ Hayden (Starter), Quenton Meeks (Backup), Saivion Smith (Backup), Tre Herndon (3rd String)

The Jaguars starters here are incredible, that can’t be said about the depth. Quentin Meeks was an undrafted free agent last year who, last season, started in 1 game and played in 8. If the Jaguars chose to sign Saivion Smith and Tre Herndon after rookie camp, there would be 3 undrafted free agents that would be serving as the Jaguars depth. Two of those free agents, Meeks and Smith, were expected to be drafted in the mid rounds of their respective drafts.

Safety (4):

Ronnie Harrison (Starter), Jarrod Wilson (Starter), Cody Davis (Backup), Zedrick Woods (Backup)

Ronnie Harrison played great last season after he beat out Barry Church for the starting strong safety position. Jarrod Wilson is an intriguing player as he has only started 2 games for the Jaguar in his 3 years on the team. Free safety was a position many expected the Jaguars to address in the 2019 NFL Draft, but the Jaguars felt safe with Wilson as the starting free safety. Wilson has the potential to be a good starter, but we will have to wait and see how he turns out.

Kicker (1):

Josh Lambo (Starter)

Punter (1):

Logan Cooke (Starter)

Long snapper (1):

Matt Overton (Starter)

Kick Returner:

DJ Chark (Starter)

Punt Returner:

Dede Westbrook (Starter)

Moves I wouldn’t be shocked to see happen:

QB: Tanner Lee as the 3rd string quarterback over Alex McGough.

RB: Thomas Rawls beating out Benny Cunningham for the 4th string running back position.

WR: The Jaguars dropping Keelan Cole and keeping undrafted free agents Tyre Brady or Dredrick Snelson to fill in his role as a 3rd string wide receiver.

OL: Donnell Greene beating out AJ Cann for the starting right guard position before the season is over with.

DL: The Jaguars utilizing Josh Allen at both EDGE and linebacker.

LB: Joe Giles-Harris starting at weak-side linebacker over Quincy Williams.

CB: The Jaguars signing undrafted free agent Tae Hayes over fellow undrafted free agent Tre Herndon as the 3rd string cornerback.

S: The Jaguars choosing to keep Andrew Wingard over the speedster, Zedrick Woods, as a backup safety.

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