Recently a report surfaced from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport regarding free safety Tashaun Gipson and a potential trade market for the 28-year-old. For the Jaguars, they are in a position in which they need to clear some cap space not only for the future but also for any other potential free agents they want to sign this year. It is also worth noting the Jaguars re-signed safety Jarrod Wilson earlier this offseason which could have had an impact on the decision to trade Gipson.
If the Jaguars are going to compete in 2019, they are going to need to figure out a way to get an influx of talent on the offensive side of the ball. This means a few sacrifices on the defensive side of the ball. The Jaguars have already begun this by releasing Barry Church during the 2018 season and are rumored to be shopping defensive tackle Malik Jackson.
Teams have called the #Jaguars to inquire about starting S Tashaun Gipson, sources say, and the belief is he’s available. Due more than $8M and Jax is in a cap crunch, but Gipson has played at a high level and is only 28.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 6, 2019
One difference in the report regarding Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson is that teams are reportedly calling the Jaguars about Gipson. If that is the case, his market could be better than Jackson’s based on a level of interest alone. Gipson originally signed a 5-year $36M contract with $12M guaranteed with the Jaguars during the 2016 offseason. During his three seasons with the team, Gipson accounted for 159 combined tackles, six interceptions, and 16 pass defenses.
Gipson was an instrumental part of the Jaguars 2017 playoff run. With four interceptions and over 50 combined tackles, he was easily one of the best in a group of immense talent. He also has been a sort of ironman since joining the Jaguars after an injury-plagued career in Cleveland. Gipson has started 48/48 games for the Jaguars rarely ever getting injured. If a team would like to acquire his services they know exactly what they are getting. A relatively young safety in his prime with a minimal injury history as of late.
If the Jaguars were to part ways with Gipson they would only have around $1.6M in dead cap space for the 2019 season, and they would save around $7.45M. The team that trades for him will owe him zero guaranteed money for the remaining two years on his contract. This contract is similar to the one Malik Jackson signed which included all of the money up front (within the first two seasons), with an easy out after afterward.
That being said, what would the market look like exactly for Gipson? Although there are several safeties hitting the free agency market there are very few without faults. Eric Weddle is 34 years old, Tyrann Mathieu has had some injury concerns recently, and Earl Thomas has been injury prone and may be pricy.
San Francisco 49ers
2019 Cap Space: $68,295,872
The 49ers have a ton of cap space entering the 2019 season. The safety position may be the biggest need on their roster currently besides defensive end. D.J. Reed — a fifth-round pick from 2018 — is set to be their starting free safety, and his backup has one career interception. It is safe to say there is a need here. Not only is the need, and cap space there, the 49ers also have a former Jaguars coach on their staff. Robert Saleh — the 49ers defensive coordinator — was the Jaguars linebackers coach from 2014-2016 during the Gus Bradley era. Although it was only for one season, there is some familiarity there.
One issue regarding a trade here would be the 49ers current draft capital. They only have five draft picks in this upcoming draft. With no 5th or 7th round picks they may be hesitant to engage in a trade. It may be possible for the 49ers to trade away a 4th round (#105 overall) pick for Gipson, however, it is unlikely.
I expect his value to be anywhere from a 5th to 7th round pick considering the Jaguars will likely be releasing the safety if there are no trade partners in an effort to save cash. Considering all of these factors, it may be possible the 49ers decide Gipson is worth surrendering one of their picks as the rookie safety class is relatively barren.
2019 Cap Space: $27,468,675
The Dallas Cowboys are another team which should be on the radar for Tashaun Gipson. Currently, they are set to have over $27M in cap space and have a huge need at free safety with Byron Jones moving back to Corner. The Cowboys do not have much in the way of depth at safety with Xavier Woods — a rookie draft pick in 2018 — slated to start.
It was reported that prior to the trade deadline the Cowboys were very interested in Seattle’s Earl Thomas. It is safe to say the Cowboys are looking for help in their secondary, and Tashaun Gipson would be the perfect man for the job. With only a $7M cap hit for 2019 after the Jaguars trade him, Gipson would count for roughly half of what Thomas is reportedly expecting to receive on the open market.
Although the Cowboys do not have a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, they do have the rest of their picks. With the Cowboys slated to be a major contender in the NFC East, it would behoove them to acquire as much talent as possible. With the need and urgency, the Jaguars may be able to get at least a 5th round (#106 overall) pick from the Cowboys for Gipson. Gipson would greatly improve their already growing secondary and the Cowboys will have a playmaking safety for the first time in many years.
2019 Cap Space: $33,033,157
With the Seattle Seahawks officially losing All-Pro Safety Earl Thomas to free agency this offseason they are likely in the running for a potential replacement.
Although Tedric Thompson, a 3rd-year safety out of Colorado, played relatively well last season in place of an injured Earl Thomas, the position still needs to be upgraded. What the Seahawks were missing in their secondary was a ball hawk. And although Gipson’s interceptions were down a bit last year, he still has the prowess to make game-changing plays around the ball which is what made him a priority for GM Dave Caldwell and Head Coach (at the time) Gus Bradley.
The Seahawks have enough cap space to take on Gipson’s contract who would come in much cheaper and a year younger than the person he will ultimately be replacing — Earl Thomas. The Seahawks have been attempting to replicate their dominance in the secondary, and Gipson would absolutely fit in their defense and. One issue the Seahawks have is their lack of late round picks. Currently, the latest pick the Seahawks are set to have is their 5th round pick. It is possible the Jaguars would be willing to acquire a 2020 pick for Gipson, however, it is more likely they want to acquire a draft pick in this year’s draft.
2019 Cap Space: $71,240,680
The Raiders have one of the highest cap numbers in the entire NFL this offseason at over $71M. This means, regardless of the contract, Gipson wouldn’t even make a dent in their cap space. Currently, the Raiders are slated to start journeyman Marcus Gilcrest with Reggie Nelson as his backup at free safety for this upcoming season. If the Raiders want to improve their 19th rank pass defense from last year they may want to start at the safety position. Head Coach Jon Gruden is notorious for preferring experienced veterans on defense which Gipson absolutely qualifies for.
The Raiders are also rich in draft capital this offseason with 10 total picks including seven five picks in the first five rounds. Given that, the Raiders may be more likely than any other team to offer a draft pick for Gipson’s services. One likely pick is around the 5th round range again at pick number 142. Even though the Raiders are rebuilding this offseason they still have an opportunity to rebound quickly given their cap space and draft capital.
2019 Cap Space: $18,609,190
The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of decisions to make this offseason. Not only did they have to decide whether or not to retain Quarterback Nick Foles, but they also had to re-sign Defensive End Brandon Graham. The Eagles have the least amount of cap space available from this list of teams, and will still have to look forward to re-signing starting Quarterback Carson Wentz in the very near future.
Although this may seem to indicate the Eagles would likely opt to draft a safety instead of trading for one, their window of opportunity to compete in, or win the Superbowl might be closing sooner rather than later with aging players and expiring contracts. If the Eagles want to compete in the NFC East yet again this season they could use a playmaking safety in their secondary and Gipson would provide that. This also may be one of Gipson’s more preferred choices in landing spots along with the Seahawks and Cowboys.
Fortunately, the Eagles also have a decent amount of draft picks with 8 total. The Eagles could be willing to surrender a 5th round pick for Gipson’s services, or they could send over one of their two 6th round picks if his market is lower than expected.
*All cap space figures in this article are via OverTheCap.com and are updated as of 3/7/2019*
REPORT: Jaguars re-sign tight end James O’Shaughnessy
The Jaguars have re-signed tight end James O’Shaughnessy according to a report released by the team. O’Shaughnessy now re-joins a group that includes newly signed tight end Geoff Swaim, Ben Koyack, and Pharoah McKever.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) March 21, 2019
This is great news for the Jaguars tight end group. O’Shaughnessy was a reliable receiving threat for the Jaguars last season, although he was horribly underutilized.
This adds some continuity into the room with Ben Koyack as the only Jaguars tight end with in-game experience with the team. O’Shaughnessy accounted for 24 receptions for 214 yards last season. O’Shaughnessy’s only other reported interest in free agency has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Look for the Jaguars to continue to upgrade the tight end position during the draft later this offseason.
2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson
After months of quarterback scouting that have all become relatively moot, it’s time to start going in-depth at other positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars here at Locked On Jaguars.
With quarterback Nick Foles in the fold after signing a four year, $88 million deal with the Jaguars last week, it’s safe to assume quarterback is just about out of the picture for the team’s seventh overall selection in next month’s NFL Draft. Sure, the Jaguars could elect to draft a QB to backup Foles and eventually utilize the two-year “out” to usher in his heir, but that seems highly unlikely at this point. Jacksonville paid Foles to be their franchise quarterback, and they must build around him immediately to get things back on track.
In which case, the Jaguars need to add weapons on offense. During his time in Philadelphia over the past two years, Foles has targeted tight ends on 33% of his 296 passing attempts. It helps that the Eagles had multiple talented TEs on their roster during that time in Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Brent Celek, and Dallas Goedert, but the Jaguars must attempt to replicate the tight end production Foles had that helped him find so much success.
T.J. Hockenson from the University of Iowa can immediately provide a spark at the tight end position and replicate that formula.
The redshirt sophomore burst onto the scene during the 2018 season, hauling in 49 receptions for 760 yards and six touchdowns in Iowa’s 52.9%-to-47.1% run-to-pass offense. Iowa ran a ton of multiple tight end sets, mainly 12-personnel (1 RB/2 TE), in order to add bodies to the tackle box for the run game and best utilize both Hockenson and fellow Hawkeyes tight end Noah Fant – who, like Hockenson, is a projected first round pick. The two tight ends combined for 88 receptions, 1279 yards, and 13 touchdowns in 2018.
The differences between Hockenson and Fant, which were drawn out well by my friend Ryan Keiran of PatsPulpit.com, are their playstyles at the same general position. Fant is going to be a dynamic receiving tight end on a bit of an NFL learning curve as he is far from a polished blocker, who is best utilized as the new “big-slot” TE that the NFL is beginning to transition towards.
I’ll do a full film review on Fant at another time here at Locked On Jaguars, but my early take is he’s an Evan Engram-style of tight end who would benefit from a pass-happy, vertical offense. Not all of these teams need a tight end, but the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be great fits for Fant who could move him around and play him vertically.
Hockenson is much more universal in terms of scheme fit. He’s athletic enough to play vertically, like Fant, fluid and explosive enough to win in the underneath game, and is the best run-blocking tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated. And that last nugget is something that will undoubtedly catch the eye of the power-run heavy Jacksonville Jaguars.
Let’s get to the film. Be prepared – there’s really no negative aspects to his game.
I typically don’t clip up a lot of run blocking plays for film reviews, because you can usually get a good feel for a player’s ability in that aspect from a couple of early-down reps.
But good lord, T.J. Hockenson makes run blocking a sport of it’s own – and he’s a first-team All Pro in it.
Hockenson’s pure strength and explosion into his block is enough to “wow” you from an entertainment perspective, but his technique makes the difference between a “good” block, and the “great” block that leads to him driving the defensive end 10 yards backwards and into the turf. His fluid explosion through contact out of his three point stance creates instant pad-level leverage by getting the DE vertical. Hockenson maintains the lower pad-level and his strong hands stick in the chest frame despite the defender attempting to wiggle himself free like a fish in a fishnet.
You’ll never, ever see Hockenson quit on a block until the whistle is blown. His rep is won by the time the standing EDGE defender crosses the numbers at the top of the field, but Hockenson drives him out of bounds and into the sideline area a yard behind the line of scrimmage. When Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin stated “I suggest we adopt the term ‘grit’ as a way to define ourselves,” at the Jaguars’ State of the Franchise press conference in 2017, plays like this are what he was referring to.
Hockenson plays with grit on every snap.
Hockenson is more than just an in-line blocker. He’s equally as dominant as a space blocker, which will reap benefits for a team that will use him in pass protection vs. loaded boxes and blitz. Diagnose this look as Cover 2-man underneath with the MIKE linebacker responsible for Hockenson (hovering over the left tackle behind the DE). The MIKE reads pass from the QB – the play was a QB draw – and gets his eyes up to Hockenson quickly, but even with eyes on the tight end, the MIKE was unable to stand his ground from the bulldozer of a blocking tight end and eats dirt. It’s the same thing over and over again, whether it’s in-line or out in space – Hockenson wins with a fantastic combination of athleticism and technique which cements his high floor as a blocker at the NFL level.
Hockenson’s technique becomes important when taking on rush and disengaging moves from opposing rushers and defenders. Hockenson wins with initial leverage and hand placement, but the defender gets an arm free to attempt top rip out Hockenson’s arms. But with the lower pad level, Hockenson can get his disengaged arm back up-and-under through the rip and back into the defenders chest, and turn him 180 degrees away from the play.
The next six clips will be the last of Hockenson’s blocking breakdown before moving to his receiving ability, all displaying his ability to seal-block on designed runs and backfield throws to completely open up the field. This obviously requires the previously stated technique and strength through blocks, but the processing speed to diagnose his responsibilities and time his blocks, as a lead-block from H-back/fullback, in-line, and out in space. He can do it all.
Simply put: Enjoy.
You’ve probably had a lot of fun watching T.J. Hockenson, the blocker, so far… (or maybe not, and maybe I’m just a football nerd).
But I promise you, that’s not all the Iowa product has to offer. The Jaguars prioritize the ability to run block in their tight ends, but in today’s NFL, tight ends need to contribute significantly as receiving threats in order to be considered dynamic.
Hockenson hasn’t mastered all nine routes of the route tree, but he’s proven he can win multiple routes in all three levels of the playing field. His athletic testing results (see below) also offer promise that Hockenson can develop on just about any route there is, too. It’s not that Hockenson struggled with certain routes – he just wasn’t asked to run them in Iowa’s run-heavy offense.
His high-pointing ability wasn’t often utilized at Iowa given their run-heavy philosophy, but the talent, size, and technique is there for Hockenson to be the redzone threat the Jaguars have desperately been searching for.
Hockenson squeezes through a tight, two-defender gap on an outside release with explosion off the line in order to breeze by the coverage LB and separate despite little field room in the redzone. The QB lofts a ball to the back of the endzone, and Hockenson’s mix of technique and athleticim finishes the rep. He identifies the ball and times his full-body extension at the top of his vertical jump in order to get both hands on this ball and bring it down in bounds without ever letting the closing defender have a chance to make a recovery play.
In order to win in contested areas such as the redzone, fighting through contact and adjusting to throws is as important as anything. Being nearly 6-5 with a 90th percentile vertical jump (see his athletic profile later in the report) is obviously a benefit in this category, but Hockenson has the natural ability to fight for and win contested throws across the field.
Hockenson releases inside to draw the linebacker off of the seam that he intends to get vertical before breaking into a post on a deep mesh concept to keep the safety modest. This is a well-run, pro-style yet schemed-open route that Hockenson can win on at the next level, but the play turns into a YOLO-pass. The QB scrambles left with pressure closing in, and lets this ball rip back towards the middle of the field where Hockenson is playing the scramble drill back towards the left side of the field. He tracks this underthrown ball while navigating back to the side he came from, fights through contact and comes down with a huge gain on what was on pace to become a 4th-and-long punt.
If the Jaguars intend on running the similar, if not the same, passing concepts with Foles in the fold, then plays like this are important in Hockenson’s evaluation – winning in the short-to-intermediate levels of the passing field. Otherwise known as the routes that make a West Coast offense operate.
Hockenson possesses the explosion off the line and agility to maintain speed through his turns in the route to operate in a timing-based passing offense which can be seen in the fluidity of his release from the slot anf through the deep crossing route – a staple of Jacksonville’s offense over the past two years. And with clean footowork, Hockenson cleanly separates with hip fluidity and no wasted movement as soon as the defender begins to pedal vertically again. So long as the QB leads this ball (after years of watching a QB fail to do so, it’ll be a sigh of relief to see that from Foles), this is a yards-after-catch route that Hockenson would wreak havoc with in the Jaguars’ WCO-offense.
Did someone mention yards after the catch?
Hockenson does a great job at keeping his feet underneath him through vertical route breaks, with no wasted movement whatsoever in order to maintain a comfy cushion from the coverage defender. And once again, this is a timing route based off of play action with a relatively immediate release at the top of the route.
And your arm tackles will do nothing to slow down the Hock. He’s a yards after catch and yards through contact machine.
This rep was just disrespectful, and provides another feel for how Hockenson can transcend the offense beyond WCO concepts and integrate some vertical philosophies.
Hockenson lines up in-line in 23 personnel (2 RB/3 TE) – this looks like it’ll be a run play or short-field pass off play-action to get an easy 3rd and 1 conversion, right?
The outside TEs in Hockenson (to the weak side of the formation) and Fant (strong-side – safety help follows) run a Yankee concept that acts like a deep mesh pattern between the most outside players in the formation, getting vertical up the seam and crossing. With the one-on-one matchup and a rub to benefit from, Hockenson gets wide open and the safety tries to recover as the top of the defense is exposed at the rub.
What makes this rep so disrespectful? Watch the second half of the clip. Hockenson wins route-running leverage vs. his man coverage defender by running an inside release. With so many defenders in the box that make an inside release difficult to manuever, Hockenson literally pulls a swim move on the play-action-biting stack linebacker (#14) and breezes to the middle of the field, easily separating from the man-cover #25.
To begin this crucial 4th and 8 rep, with under a minute left in the game tied 28-28, it’s obviously clutch of Hockenson to make a backside sliding catch to get both across the line-to-gain and into field goal range. That’s just a given.
But his explosion off the line of scrimmage is real. Sure, he plays the line at the snap compared to the top outside WR, but to be three yards removed vertically post-snap before the shorter-build, assumptively quicker and nimbler even crosses the line is impressive for any tight end. And Hockenson matches his LOS burst with a fluid hip-turn at the top of this curl to ensure separation from a breaking safety on the most important play of the game up until this point. The QB getting the ball out late eliminates some of that separation, but Hockenson held up to his end of the deal with ease.
Athletic profile (via MockDraftable.com)
Hockenson offers typical height for the tight end position, but based on his NFL Combine testing, he comes in slightly underweight and with below-average length compared to the average NFL TE.
As mentioned while describing his redzone touchdown catch above, however, Hockenson has legitimate athleticism to cover for his lack of elite size at the position. His vertical (37 1/2″) and broad (123″) rank in the 90th and 91st percentiles among NFL TEs in MockDraftable’s database that has collected testing numbers dating back to the 1999 NFL Draft class.
His top speed comes in above average as well, as he recorded a 4.7s 40 yard dash (68th percentile). This is a huge benefit for any team looking to add some vertical field stretching via Hockenson, and if Jacksonville wants to catch teams off guard beyond their traditional WCO passing concepts, Hockensons’s skillset + measurables give them that flexibility.
Last but not least, Hockenson’s 77th percentile, 7.02s 3 cone drill is a cherry on top. A widely praised drill for testing a players ability to change direction, the Jaguars brass is likely salivating at this number. As mentioned previously, Jacksonville’s WCO concepts require short-field route running and the ability to create YAC in a timing-based play. These factors require twitch and quickness from a change-of-direction standpoint. Hockenson’s 3-cone drill proves one thing: He’s anything but stiff, and at bare minimum he can fit the Jaguars current mold as a receiving TE.
What’s nice is that’s just his floor, and his ceiling can provide so, so much more.
Listen, I understand that selecting a tight end in the top 10 is pretty uncommon, but it isn’t unheard of. Eric Ebron (10th overall, 2014), Vernon Davis (6th overall, 2006), Kellen Winslow Jr. (6th overall, 2004) are the most recent to be selected that high.
Winslow Jr. suffered two early setbacks with a broken leg two games into his rookie season and a torn ACL knocking him out of his second season, but currently ranks 31st all-time in receiving yards among TEs. Assuming he met his career average 650 yards per season in those nearly two fully missed seasons, Winslow would rank 13th all-time in the same category. He was worth the selection in hindsight.
Davis, who is still active today and plays for the Washington Redskins (he played his first 9 1/2 seasons with the San Francisco) currently ranks 9th in all time receiving yards among TEs with 7439. He was worth the selection in hindsight.
Ebron… is a bit of a different story. He’s entering his sixth season in the NFL and looked like a bust with the Detroit Lions, recording 186 catches for 2070 yards and 11 touchdowns in four years there. However, Ebron signed with the Indianapolis Colts this past season, and tore his bust label to shreds. He more than doubled his career touchdowns with 13 alone in 2018, along with 66 receptions for 750 yards – both career highs. The jury is not out on whether or not Ebron’s ability and skillset were worth his selection.
Forget what I said in the introduction about run-blocking: T.J. Hockenson is the best tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated, period. He’s also the safest offensive player in this draft, and considering the traditional NFL learning curve at the tight end, it’s really rare to ever hear that label being thrown around at the position.
His combination of poise as a blocker in all facets as well as extremely high floor in the pass game for an offense stylized like Jacksonville’s absolutely makes him worth their 7th overall pick, and the Jaguars’ dire need of a tight end right now only further solidifies that.
Quarterback Nick Foles will need as many weapons as he can get here in Jacksonville to get this Jaguars team steered straight. Considering his success in Philadelphia with tight ends, it’s incredibly difficult to assume T.J. Hockenson wouldn’t be one of Foles’ most trusted receiving targets, and as a whole Jacksonville’s most important non-QB offensive player given his immense skill-set as a contributor to the run and the pass game.
REPORT: Jaguars officially sign former Packers LB Jake Ryan
The Jaguars have officially signed former Packers ILB Jake Ryan. While it was reported on Saturday, the Jaguars would be signing the linebacker, there was still a physical pending. Ryan tore his ACL prior to the 2019 season and is still in the middle of his rehab. Today, the Jaguars made it official.
Officially signed ✒️
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) March 19, 2019
Ryan was signed to a 2-year $8M contract with an option during the 2020 season according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The contract is similar to the contract Austin Seferian-Jenkins deal from last season which essentially boils down to a 1-year prove-it deal.
Jake Ryan (Jaguars), $8M, $1M gtd, $500K signing bonus, salaries $1M ($500K gtd), $5.5M; $31,250 per game active annual, 2020 is option to be exercised prior to 22nd day before 2020 lg yr, if exercised $1M of salary gtd, $1.75M annual playtime incentive
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 19, 2019
Ryan adds another proven veteran linebacker to a group which lacks experience. Before the signing, the Jaguars linebackers on the team were Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, Donald Payne, Blair Brown, Donald Payne, Leon Jacobs, and Nick Deluca. None of them have had much if any experience at the MLB position.
Ryan started 27 games in three seasons with the Packers prior to his injury. He has totaled 213 combined tackles in his career. That is plenty of experience added to the Jaguars linebacker group ahead of the 2019 season. It would not surprise me to see the Jaguars continue to add to the position via the NFL Draft.
It is also worth noting Telvin Smith’s contract cap number reaches its highest point next year ($12.8M). It is possible — if Ryan performs well — for the Jaguars to move on from Smith and move Myles Jack back to his more natural position. Myles Jack will be entering the final year of his rookie contract this season.
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