Back in early February, ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky posted a fantastic link to an interactive infographic from The Guardian. The post allows you to see how much money each team spent and at which position the team spent it. Spend some time with it, play around with it for a bit, it’s pretty interesting. What is particularly interesting is seeing the different approaches teams take to paying their players. As we all know, teams cycle through where they are spending their money based on need and tenure of certain players at certain positions, but there’s no denying that the Jags are pretty unique in comparison to their contemporaries.
Despite the Jaguars having the fourth highest payroll in 2012, the team failed to get in the playoffs. Part of that is where the money was spent. According to Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union,
“The Jaguars salary cap was inflated by $27 million in signing bonuses for just three players. Rookie Justin Blackmon got $11.9 million and wide receiver Laurent Robinson and defensive end Jeremy Mincey got $8 million each. Kicker Josh Scobee got a $3.75 million signing bonus and quarterback Chad Henne got $3 million. And second-round pick Andre Branch got $2 million.”
The biggest impact player of those five players was Blackmon and he, along with Scobee, may be the only players worth the money. Despite monster holes at guard, right tackle, and defensive end, the Jaguars didn’t spend too much money, comparatively, at those positions. In fact, outside of center, guard is the least valued position by the Jaguars at just $5,977,124. There is more dead money with the team from just two players, Mike Thomas and Clint Session ($3.6 million each), than the Jags have spent at every player playing guard. The team has $9.95 million in dead money this season largely due to Session, Thomas, and Aaron Kampman.
On the 17th, I advocated for signing guard Brandon Moore in free agency. Would it be expensive? Yes. Would it be worth it? Compared to other positions, I think so. There has been a string of poor financial decisions as regards player personnel during the Gene Smith era. There is no reason that Guy Whimper, Jason Spitz, and Eben Britton should all be making over $1.2 million annually when they are backups, and bad ones at that. Bringing in top talent along the offensive line, namely guard and right tackle, would allow the Jags to spend money on real talent and keep young guys like John Estes, Michael Brewster, Will Rackley, and Cameron Bradfield all for about the amount it costs to keep Spitz.
But the Jags aren’t really in trouble with the salary cap. They have about $22 million in cap space for the 2013 offseason, so a big move shouldn’t be out of the question. With big signing money likely due to the number two overall pick, it may be wise to use discretion in free agency, but there should be a chunk of change available to spend. That money should be injected where it is most deficient: the interior offensive line.
Guards and centers aren’t flashy, but when they are a need it goes noticed. I’ve been harping on the need to spend in the middle of the line for a while and you all may be tired of me saying it (thanks for sticking by, though!) but it would be nice to see the problems properly addressed. There’s money to be spent, now spend it in the right places.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims