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Previewing the Jaguars 2018 Season: Week 1 @ New York Giants

Ruairi Songer

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Dec 31, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning passes against the Washington Redskins during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 season should be an interesting year for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coming off their first playoff campaign since 2007, they will finally have their chance to prove that they are not just a “one-year wonder.” However, the 2018 schedule will bring lots of challenges and unfamiliar opponents.

In this article, we will be breaking down the first enemy of the 2018 season, the New York Giants.

Series History: 

Series tied 3-3

Last meeting: 11/30/2014 @ Everbank Field (Jaguars 25 – Giants 24)

Preview:

Although the Giants and Jaguars don’t meet enough to form an interesting rivalry, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about this game. Tom Coughlin has spent considerable amounts of time with both teams, and will faceoff against the Giants for the first time since being fired by the organization in 2016. Fans will get to witness the long-awaited match-up of cornerback Jalen Ramsey vs. wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., as well as running back Saquon Barkley’s first regular season NFL game.

Game Information:

9/9/18, 1:00pm @ Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Quarterbacks

(* indicates projected starter)

Eli Manning*, Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta

Dec 31, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning passes against the Washington Redskins during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After a mediocre 2017 performance by Eli Manning, many Giants fans called for a replacement such as Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold. However, Giants GM Dave Gettleman made it clear early-on that the Giants were committed to Manning and believed in his abilities.

While Manning has shown signs of decline, he is still a seasoned veteran who could test the Jaguars secondary. He has posted a completion percentage above 60% over the past four seasons, and posted passer ratings of 90+ in two of the last four years. Interestingly, Manning excels while playing in September. Over the last two years, Manning’s completion percentage is 12.2% higher in September than in other months. He also recorded an average of 13.5 points higher passer rating while playing in September. This is unfortunate for the Jaguars, as they will be facing a fresh Eli.

Kyle Lauletta is an interesting project quarterback. Coming out of Richmond college, Lauletta was one of the most accurate QBs in college football and had an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. It is unlikely that the Jags will face Lauletta, but he could be a name to remember for the future.

Running Backs

Saquon Barkley*, Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins

Sep 17, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Temple Owls at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Temple 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Saquon Barkley will create a unique challenge for the Jaguars defense. The former Penn State RB, and #2 overall pick, has a remarkable combination of athleticism and instinct that makes him a big-play threat on every down. He is just as much of a threat as a pass-catcher as he is a runner. Telvin Smith and Myles Jack will be tasked with containing the explosive rookie RB.

Jonathan Stewart could possibly see playtime as a 3rd down back. However, the veteran RB’s play has been declining since 2015, and shouldn’t create much of a prevalent threat excluding at the goal line.

It is very possible that the Giants offense attempts to make this a “statement game,” by attempting to establish the running game early. New York hasn’t been able to effectively run the ball since Ahmad Bradshaw’s breakout year in 2012. Finding success with the running game could take pressure off Eli Manning, both against the Jaguars and future opponents.

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham Jr*, Sterling Shepherd*, Cody Latimer, Roger Lewis, Amba Etta-Tawo

Sep 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) makes a one handed touchdown catch past Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills (31) during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The superstar match-up between ‏Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Jalen Ramsey will undoubtedly be the biggest headline of the game. Ramsey will be coming off his first Pro-bowl, and Beckham will play his first regular season game since he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in October of 2017. The two ultra-competitive players should produce a handful of highlight-worthy plays.

Sterling Shepherd has been a productive slot receiver over his first two NFL seasons, and could find success against the soft-spot in the Jags defense: Slot Corner. This will be an important game for Jalen Myrick, DJ Hayden and Quenton Meeks who will be competing for a the third cornerback spot.

After Beckham and Shepherd, the Giants receiving talent takes a huge dip. Roger Lewis was formidable in a pinch last year after injuries took out Beckham and Shepherd. Amba-Etta Tawo, former Jaguar, will get a chance to face off against his old team. Cody Latimer, former 2nd rounder for the Broncos, showed small flashes of production in 2017.

Tight Ends

Evan Engram*, Rhett Ellison, Kyle Carter, Shane Smith

Second-year tight end Evan Engram is one of the better receiving tight-ends in the league. Despite being part of an anemic Giants offense, he managed to post 700 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns in his rookie season. While Engram is a talented pass-catcher, the Jaguars may be able to exploit his poor blocking in run situations. Engram garnered one of the lowest grades run-blocking grades among tight ends in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus.

Aside from Engram, the Giants tight end depth is devoid of talent. Rhett Ellison has played in the NFL for six years and has yet to post over 250 receiving yards in a season. Carter and Smith aren’t locks to make the final roster.

Offensive Line

Nate Solder* LT, Will Hernandez* LG, Brett Jones* C, Patrick Omameh* RG, Ereck Flowers* RT,  Chad Wheeler, John Greco

Dave Gettleman reconstructed the Giants offensive line in the offseason by adding LT Nate Solder and rookie LG Will Hernandez. While these players are certainly talented, the line isn’t completely fixed. Justin Pugh, the Giants most essential and versatile offensive lineman, signed with the Cardinals in the offseason. Solder has never fared exceptionally well in pass protection and Hernandez, while promising, is still a rookie. Ereck Flowers, John Jerry, Brett Jones, Chad Wheeler, and ex-Jaguar Patrick Omameh are all possible starters with below average talent.

Yannick Ngakoue could find some success against Solder’s lackluster pass protection, and Dante Fowler Jr. should fare well against an under-performing Flowers. Veteran DL Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, and Marcell Dareus should see a dominant performance against a mediocre Giants interior O-line.

Defensive Backs

Janoris Jenkins* CB, Eli Apple* CB, Landon Collins* SS, Darian Thompson* FS, William Gay, Curtis Riley

A once dominant Giants secondary appears rather weak heading into 2018. On the positive side, Landon Collins is a pro-bowl caliber safety, and Janoris Jenkins can be one of the better corners in the league when motivated to play. Unfortunately for the Giants, former first rounder, Eli Apple, has proved to be an issue in the locker room. He was suspended for a game due to a heated exchange with coaches and has been referred to as a “cancer” by teammate Landon Collins. Apple’s play on the field has been unimpressive, but with the departure of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, he may earn a starting spot as a CB2.

William Gay has only started 10 games in the last two seasons, and will be nearly 34 by September. Darian Thompson earned a PFF grade of 52.2 in 2017, good for only the 69th grade best out of qualifying safeties.

DJ Chark and Keelan Cole could prove to be an unfair matchup if lined up against Apple or Gay. Gay doesn’t possess the speed to keep up with Chark or Cole, while Apple can be stiff in coverage and could get beat if baited into one of Chark’s polished double moves.

Linebackers

Alec Ogletree*, BJ Goodson*, Kareem Martin*, Olivier Vernon*, Lorenzo Carter, Ray-Ray Armstrong

Sep 10, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (84) dives for more yards after a first quarter catch as Los Angeles Rams middle linebacker Alec Ogletree (52) moves in for the stop at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants new defensive coordinator James Bettcher will be introducing a 3-4 defensive set in 2018. This will benefit players such as former-Cardinal Kareem Martin and rookie edge rusher Lorenzo Carter, who are built to be 3-4 edge rushers. Olivier Vernon is one of the brighter spots on the Giants LB core, and should also transition well to the new scheme as a standing rusher. Alec Ogletree will have to improve his play after struggling under the Wade Phillips 3-4 variant for the Rams last year. BJ Goodson will be entering his third season in the NFL and has yet to show anything particularly impressive about his play, despite being on IR the year prior.

Defensive Line

Damon Harrison*, Dalvin Tomlinson*, BJ Hill, Josh Mauro (suspended), RJ McIntosh

Former UDFA Damon Harrison was was one of the best defensive lineman in the league in 2017 and excelled in defending the run. Dalvin Tomlinson outperformed the expectations of many as a rookie and was also a run-stopping force. Newly signed free agent Josh Mauro will be suspended for 4 games. BJ Hill, rookie out of NC State, is an athletic freak with tools and plenty of upside, but will take time to develop.

Although Nathaniel Hackett loves the inside run game, the Giants interior defenders could make finding success with the inside runs difficult. Being able to run to the outside will be crucial to Leonard Fournette’s success.

Overview

The Jaguars offensive game plan should focus on a heavy run-game with an emphasis on outside runs. As far as the passing game goes, targeting Apple and William Gay and staying away from Janoris Jenkins should reduce turnover potential. Establishing a running game early-on would create an opportunity to take a deep shot either to either Cole or Chark.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Jags will have to counter a quick pass or quick screen game. The Giants know that their offensive line is outmatched, and will most likely try to get the ball out quickly on every play. This would likely involve screens to Barkley as well as quick slant throws to Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepherd. Incorporating more Cover 2 looks into their typical man-to-man defensive scheme will give Ramsey and Bouye freedom to make plays against the screen and run.

While the Giants have made some strides in improving their roster, and will have players returning from IR, I don’t believe they outmatch the Jaguars roster. With the state of the Giants O-line, and the Jaguars pass rush, they will have to rely on a dink-and-dunk offense. On the defensive side, their secondary will be constantly challenged by the deep threats of Keelan Cole and DJ Chark, leaving extra room for Fournette to slash through their defense.

Score Prediction:

Jaguars 31 – Giants 13

(1-0)

Keep an eye out for the next article, in which we preview the week two AFC Championship rematch against the New England Patriots…

Ruairi Songer is a lifelong Jags fan and Duval native. You can follow him on Twitter (@ruairi_s) for Jags news, Draft information, and off-season updates.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars sign Josh Lambo to contract extension, per report

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 23, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars punter Josh Lambo (4) looks on during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

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.

It is not currently known the terms of Lambo’s contract. We will update this story as more information becomes available.


UPDATE:

Josh Lambo has confirmed the extension was for four years.

Lambo was signed to a four-year $15.5M contract with $6.5M in full guarantees.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 NFL Draft: Locked On Jaguars Mock Draft 1.0

Demetrius Harvey

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Dec 29, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray (1) scrambles in the 2018 Orange Bowl college football playoff semifinal game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars should pursue running back Le’Veon Bell in free agency

Zach Goodall

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Jan 14, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) carries the ball past Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson (97) during the second half in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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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