Jacksonville Jaguars In a Better Position Than Raiders?


The Jacksonville Jaguars finished the 2014 NFL season with a 3-13 record, tied with the Oakland Raiders for the third-worst record in pro football. By that definition, the Jaguars are exactly the same as the Raiders.

Both teams finished near the bottom in most statistical categories and both teams had flashes of potential.

Neither of them looked like they would be contenders in the near future, especially the 2015 season.

So why, when it came to time for 2015 NFL  Free Agency did the Jacksonville Jaguars manage to bring in better, big-name talent than the Oakland Raiders?

I was recently reading a piece over at Just Blog Baby about why the Raiders can’t attract top-tier talent that made me think of the similarities and difference between the two franchises. Writer Patrick Fouhy attributes a lot of it to the relative-pauper status of Raiders owner Mark Davis being unable to offer large guaranteed money contracts:

"In the case of Mark Davis, he is the “least wealthy” of all NFL owners, with a net worth of around $500 million. To the average middle class man like myself, that’s a mind boggling amount of money. To an NFL owner, it is a handicap when it comes to securing big name Free Agents."

Meanwhile, Jags owner Shahid Khan is one of the wealthiest owners in the league, with billions to his name. He’s shown he’s more than willing to spend big both on free agents and on stadium upgrades and community support.

That’s good news for the Jaguars and when comparing the two major rebuilding teams it’s an important area to note.

It isn’t the only factor, though. Both teams are dedicated to building through the draft, so the big free agency spending by the Jaguars in 2015 isn’t really quite part of that plan. The Jags had plenty of cap space, though, and had to spend it. You may as well get some premiere free agents when you’ve got to spend the money anyway. The Raiders were in a similar position.

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So, if you’ve got to spend it, even if you have less money to guarantee like Mark Davis, you must do a good job of selling your team to potential free agents. The Jags went after some and the Raiders went after some. In the case of DeMarco Murray, they both went after him.

While the Raiders and Jaguars both lost out on Murray, the Jags managed to bring in Julius Thomas, one of the top available free agents this offseason. It was part of their plan, managing to bring in three of their top five targets. The Jags locked up the players they wanted with big money, both guaranteed and over long-term contracts.

The Raiders have wrapped up a slew of free agents as well. Guys like Roy Helu, Rodney Hudson, Curtis Lofton, Christian Ponder, and Dan Williams. I like what the Raiders have done in free agency, actually. But they aren’t exactly headline-grabbing additions. They are game-changing options they’ve brought in.

Free agents are free to sign with whomever they want when they become available, free of their current contracts. Is there something that is more appealing to them about the Jaguars instead of the Raiders?

While I would like to say that Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell are a far more engaging, upbeat pair than Reggie McKenzie and Jack Del Rio (both of whom I respect), that is likely at least partly biased on my part. For my money, what makes the Jaguars “better” at this point in the respective rebuilds is the ownership.

Comparing Shad Khan to Mark Davis is almost an unfair comparison, but both of them are in comparable roles with their teams. Whether because of money or because of other reasons, Khan has shown to the Jacksonville community, the NFL, and international sports scene that the Jaguars are committed to excellence, to making changes to improve, from the fan experience to personnel decisions, the Jaguars are following their owner’s lead: making the organization a world-class franchise regardless of sport.

That type of brand management and development is appealing to everyone and it is infectious for players who take the time to pick up the phone when the Jags call.

I’m excited to see where the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars end up at the end of the 2015 season and I wish them both the best, but at this point I think the Jaguars are in a better position than the Oakland Raiders for the foreseeable future. I credit Shad Khan for putting them in that situation.

Next: Latest Jaguars Free Agency Signings

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