With the NFL season officially coming to an end, the Jaguars will have many decisions to make. Thus, it is time to look forward to who the Jaguars should keep on the roster, and who they should simply let walk.
Although there are not many names on this list which would qualify as notable, there are still many of which have had some playing time either due to injury or because they were starters at some point.
The Jaguars currently have around 16 contracts which are set to expire at the start of the league year on March 14th. If they decide to, they could re-sign them prior to this deadline, or let each player test free and loop back around if their market is slim sometime after that date. The Jaguars have already re-signed veteran safety Jarrod Wilson to a 3-year deal prior to his contract expiring and becoming an RFA.
All but one of the pending free agents for the Jaguars come via the offense. The only defender on the team slated to be a free agent is Tyler Patmon.
Of all their impending free agents, only a few are truly worthy of an extension immediately. This includes perhaps the most important free agent, Josh Lambo. For this reason, I have broken the group down into three categories: must retain, on the bubble, and let ’em walk.
K — Josh Lambo — Josh Lambo was signed during the 2017 season after the Jaguars grew tired of a struggling Jason Myers. Luckily, that paid off and Lambo went on to nail 95% of his field goals in ’17 and 90.5% in 2018.
If I am the Jaguars, this is a no-brainer decision, and he should be paid nicely. Currently, Graham Gano is the highest paid kicker on a per-year basis at $4.25M per year. I expect the Jaguars to land Lambo somewhere between $4-5M.
Projection: 4 years $16 million
TE — James O’Shaughnessy — The Jaguars have a decision to make with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and if that decision goes as many expect, they will need a replacement. O’Shaughnessy is not necessarily the Jaguars starting tight end long term, or even short term for that matter, however, depth is needed and he should be able to be re-signed for cheap.
The Jaguars can address the number one tight end position in the draft or via free agency if they would like. But cleaning house on every tight end in the room is simply out of the question.
Projection: 2 years $4 million
CB — Tyler Patmon — Patmon has been a staple within the Jaguars cornerback depth for a long time now. Although he is not a starter, he is valuable as a player on defense. Patmon played 22.6% of the Jaguars defensive snaps last season and has been a versatile backup for the Jaguars the past two seasons. The Jaguars will likely want him back as he can play both outside and inside as well as some special teams. Although the defensive backs group for the Jaguars is one of the most talented, the depth is still a question mark.
Projection: 2 years $6 million
C/G — Tyler Shatley — Although Shatley may not be a starter either, the depth at the center position is completely barren. Besides Brandon Linder, the Jaguars have no other options at center as Chris Reed will become a restricted free agent.
Shatley at the very least has provided some depth at the position and while Brandon Linder is very good, he is also very injury prone. Linder has missed a total of ten games the past two seasons. Bringing back Shatley will ease the mind of the Jaguars brass as they will not feel the need to force a pick at center during the 2019 draft. If any offensive lineman is brought back to the team for next season, it needs to be Shatley.
Projection: 2 years $5 million
On the Bubble:
T — Ereck Flowers — Flowers was initially brought in by the Jaguars after being released by the Giants in week six of the regular season. Although he came in with very low expectations the tackle actually held his own reasonably well. The Jaguars could use some depth at the position with Josh Walker, and Josh Wells also slated to be free agents.
If the Jaguars can retain Flowers on a reasonable short-term low pay deal, then they likely will at the very least have a potential swing tackle to replace injury-prone Josh Wells with.
Reasonable new contract: 1 year $2 million
WR — Donte Moncrief — Moncrief is an interesting free agent for the Jaguars. Last offseason they signed him to a one-year $9M contract and he certainly did not live up to it. However, Moncrief finished the season with 48 receptions, 668 yards, and three touchdowns. Although those stats are not overly impressive, given the Jaguars Quarterback situation is it worth debating whether or not he should stay.
If the Jaguars can somehow get Moncrief to sign for much less than what he originally accepted last season then they should do it. Moncrief will at the very least provide some depth to the receiver room in which will only include Marquise Lee (torn ACL), Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and D.J. Chark at the moment.
The likely situation with Moncrief is he will walk in free agency and the Jaguars will address the situation in the draft.
Reasonable new contract: 2 years $10 million
T — Josh Wells — Josh Wells has served the Jaguars quite well over the past few seasons as a swing tackle, however, his level of play simply has not been acceptable. Quite frankly, the Jaguars might want to retain Wells, but they likely should not. Wells will be entering his fifth season with the Jaguars and the Jaguars may value his experience at the very least.
Reasonable new contract: 2 years $6 million
G/T — Patrick Omameh — Omameh is a familiar name to Jaguars fans as he was signed away from the team by the Giants during the 2018 offseason. Although his 2018 season with the Giants did not work out — as he was released by the team only nine weeks into the regular season — he was able to come back to Jacksonville and provide depth at both the guard and tackle positions. Omameh is not a household name, however, he would be appreciated depth if the Jaguars were to go ahead and re-sign him.
Reasonable new contract: 2 years $6 million
FB — Tommy Bohannon — The Jaguars seem to like what Bohannon brings to the table as far as punt protection as well as in the fullback role. Although the Jaguars will likely bring in some competition for him, do not be surprised if they bring Bohanon back on a 1-year deal to have some continuity in the running back room which will likely be fully revamped.
Reasonable new contract: 1 year $2 million
WR/PR — Jaydon Mickens — Mickens is set to become an exclusive rights free agent. What this means is the Jaguars hold all the cards here. Although Mickens is coming off of an unimpressive and injured season, the Jaguars might as well tender Mickens as there is very little reason not to do so. The ERFA tender will allow the Jaguars to retain Mickens for one final season as a player who will compete at wide receiver as well as punt returner.
Reasonable new contract: ERFA Tender (1 year deal)
Let ’em walk:
RB — Corey Grant — Corey Grant is probably one of the more unfortunate Jaguars free agents. Just a few months after signing a 2nd round RFA tender he, unfortunately, landed on IR with a reported lisfranc injury. Due to the nature of the injury and his inability to be an early down back, I do not see the Jaguars re-signing Grant.
Potential landing spots: Eagles, Bills, Jets
RB — T.J. Yeldon — Yeldon is going to get paid, somewhere. It just will likely not be with the Jaguars. Although he has never had a 1,000-yard season, Yeldon has proved to be a capable every-down back. Yeldon has accounted for 104 carries, 404 yards, and one touchdown last season. That does not look great as far as running back numbers go, however, his full career body of work looks better.
Over the course of four seasons, Yeldon has averaged a respectable four yards-per-carry. Some team will want to invest money into the 25-year-old running back. A change of scenery is needed for Yeldon and some team will want to pay him more money than the Jaguars would be willing to part with. Add on to this statement made by Tom Coughlin, and I believe Yeldon’s career in Jacksonville is effectively over.
Potential landing spots: Jets, Colts, Bills
RG — A.J. Cann — A.J. Cann has been the Jaguars starter at right guard for the past four seasons. Although he has had his ups and downs, I believe it is time for the Jaguars to move on. Simply put, Cann isn’t good enough to start anymore. He has been consistently beaten in the passing game and has been one of the reasons why the Jaguars have opened up so few holes on the right side of their offensive line.
Although the Jaguars will not want to pay Cann, it does not mean he won’t be paid somewhere else. He has been an ironman of sorts for the Jaguars missing only four games in his entire career. Two of those games were in 2018. Cann has shown flashes of improvement even early on this season, however, a change of scenery is needed.
Potential landing spots: Falcons, Raiders, Bills
TE — Blake Bell — Blake Bell was brought in as the Jaguars tight end depth dwindled. He was not able to really get on the field might to provide anything. The Jaguars will look to the draft or outside free agents to acquire more depth.
WR — Rashad Greene — The time has come for the Jaguars to move on from Rashad Greene. He has not been able to live up to his rookie season expectations and has not provided the Jaguars nearly enough at receiver to warrant re-signing.
T — Corey Robinson — Robinson was brought in as depth last season. The Jaguars will move on and acquire more capable depth this offseason.
T — Josh Walker — Walker was able to step in and play left tackle for the Jaguars after Cam Robinson and Josh Wells went down. Unfortunately, he allowed too many pressures to be considered as a re-sign priority.
K — Kai Forbath — Forbath will not be back with the Jaguars. He was brought in to replace an injured Josh Lambo, and although he did an admirable job in his position, the job is Lambo’s for the (hopefully) long term future.
LS — Matt Overton — Overton likely retires after this season. Although he has been able to replace Carson Tinker for the past two seasons, the Jaguars will move on.
G — Chris Reed — Reed has underperformed his entire career in Jacksonville and has routinely been beaten against the run and in pass protection. The Jaguars will finally need to move on even though Reed is a restricted free agent.
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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