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. Earlier in the week I graded the first few moves in free-agency, but Caldwell has made a handful of signings since then.
Sign LB Dekoda Watson – 3 years, $6.25M, $1.5M guaranteed: A
I talked about this move in the last post, and after looking at the contract I’m thrilled with this signing. The Jaguars needed to upgrade the linebacker position, specifically with faster players, and Watson is a guy who can provide a pass rush on certain downs. If Gus Bradley can get the kind of improvement from Watson as he did from a guy like Alan Ball last year, then this might be one of the best moves of the offseason.
Sign DE Chris Clemons – 4 years, $17.5M, $5.475M guaranteed: B
This move was essentially a foregone conclusion once Clemons was cut by the Seahawks. Gus Bradley got the most out of Clemons when he was the defensive coordinator in Seattle, and this move makes defensive end less of a desperate need in the short term. Clemons is 32 and likely won’t play at a high level for more than another year or two, so this should not keep the Jaguars from drafting a pass rusher at number 3 if they want to. Still, this is a smart move that gives Caldwell the freedom to take whoever he feels the best player is in the first round.
Sign DT Ziggy Hood – 4 years, $16M, $5.5M guaranteed: C+
This is probably the most questionable free agent signing so far by Caldwell, but it really isn’t something to fret about. Ziggy Hood has not been very good for the Pittsburgh Steelers since being drafted in the first round in the 2009 draft, but the logic here is that Hood was playing out of position in the 3-4 scheme as an end. He’ll be playing defensive tackle in Jacksonville and there’s a chance he could flourish in a new situation with some coaching. Even if he doesn’t work out, this isn’t a move that will strap the salary cap in the future.
Re-sign DE Jason Babin: Grade TBD
In another unsurprising move, the Jaguars re-signed veteran defensive end Jason Babin after he opted out of his contract earlier this week. Babin was effective as a pass rusher last season, but he had entirely too many silly penalties in the first half of the year. Like Clemons, Babin is an older guy who probably won’t provide a high level of play for much longer, but he certainly helps bolster the pass rush in the short term.
The Jaguars still have plenty of cap room and could continue to make low key moves, one of which might be signing former Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
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