With free agency officially underway, David Caldwell and the Jacksonville Jaguars have made a handful of moves that on paper seem to improve the roster significantly. Let’s take a look at the moves so far and how much they might affect this team. I already gave my thoughts on the Red Bryant signing over here.
Sign G Zane Beadles – 5 years, $30M, $13M guaranteed: B
This seems like an awful lot of money for an interior offensive lineman coming off of an average year, but the amount he upgrades the guard position by simply taking Will Rackley off the field is immeasurable. Odds are that this contract is front loaded and the Jaguars have an absurd amount of cap space this year, so this contract probably doesn’t harm the roster in any way long term. Solid move overall.
Resign CB Will Blackmon – 2 years, $1.875M, $500,000 guaranteed: A+
This is a bargain for Will Blackmon, a guy who played at a very high level last year at multiple positions in the defensive backfield. Blackmon is only 29 years old, and the Jaguars can reevaluate his status with the team in 2 years if he is still playing well. This is a terrific move that keeps a blossoming position group on the team intact.
Sign RB Toby Gerhart – 3 years, $10.5M, $4.5M guaranteed: B
This is an interesting move that I can’t imagine many people saw coming. While this effectively ends Maurice Jones-Drew’s stint with Jacksonville, Gerhart is a curious choice to replace him. Stuck behind arguably the best running back in the league in Minnesota, Gerhart saw limited action despite being a second round pick. His fresh legs are likely one of the big reasons Caldwell targeted him, as his 276 total career carries are a far cry from Maurice Jones-Drew’s 1,804 total carries. Gerhart could flourish in the same way Michael Turner did when he signed with Atlanta several years ago and emerged from LaDainian Tomlinson’s shadow. Overall, this is a very reasonable contract for a young player who has potential.
Sign LB Dekoda Watson: Grade TBD
The terms of the contract aren’t out yet, but this seems like a terrific move for the Jaguars given their desperate need for speed at the linebacker position. Watson is an outstanding athlete who has elite speed for the position and can rush the passer from the LEO position on certain downs. We’ll give a final grade when the numbers come out.
Trade QB Blaine Gabbert to San Francisco 49ers for a 2014 6th round pick and conditional pick in 2015: A++++++
I’m honestly still awestruck by this deal. I can barely believe it actually happened. Blaine Gabbert is arguably one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the history of professional football, and David Caldwell somehow managed to get a draft pick for him. Gabbert was almost assuredly going to get released at some point this offseason, and I feel pretty confident that any player the Jaguars get in the 6th round will be better than him. Besides being a terrific personnel move, this is a huge boost for a fanbase that wants to move on from one of the worst eras in franchise history.
We’ll update as more moves are made, but Caldwell is doing pretty good job so far. All of these signings are low key and really don’t hamstring the team’s salary cap situation.
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