Jacksonville Jaguars offseason has gone according to plan
Heading into the third year of his rebuilding plan, Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell had a lot of resources at his disposal to try and improve a team that won 7 games in the last 2 seasons. With high draft selections in each round and the most salary cap space of any team in the entire NFL, Caldwell was aggressive in filling needs and providing the Jaguars with much needed talent.
Heading into free agency, the Jaguars had 5 big name targets and they managed to sign 3 of them (Julius Thomas, Jermey Parnell, and Jared Odrick). The two players they missed out on (Randall Cobb and Devin McCourty) didn’t even reach the actual market, as they re-signed with their teams before the free agent signing period began. Caldwell scattered in a few other low-risk, high-upside signings and utilized the team’s abundant cap space to lure in starting-caliber talent.
Caldwell went into the draft with fewer needs thanks to his free agent haul, and he ended up with what many considered to be the best draft class in the league. Losing first round pick Dante Fowler Jr. was a tough blow, but the other 7 draft selections have a chance to be contributors in the short and long term.
In yet another offseason fluff piece, Conor Orr of NFL.com disagreed with my assessment, as he listed the Jaguars as a team that didn’t have their offseason go according to plan:
"Like the Raiders, the Jags loaded up on space and wanted to go big. After a rigorous free agency period, they only ended up with three of their top five targets, missing out on Randall Cobb and Devin McCourty. They also forked over a hefty salary to linebacker Dan Skuta, who inked a deal worth more than $20 million. The biggest blow, however, came when first-round pick Dante Fowler tore his ACL weeks after the draft. Gus Bradley had planned a lot more for his defense than just Jared Odrick."
It’s true that the Jaguars missed out on two of their free agent targets, but that really isn’t that big of a deal considering how many other guys they signed. Even taking into account those two misses, what were the Jaguars, or any other team for that matter, supposed to do? Cobb and McCourty both re-signed before the free agency period. Consequently, I don’t see how signing Dan Skuta to a contract is “not according to the plan” since the Jaguars mentioned him as one of their second-tier free agent targets. He’s likely going to start at the OTTO, so I think signing him was definitely part of the plan.
And yes, losing Fowler is a big deal, but injuries are part of every team’s season – the Jaguars just happened to have their big injury happen in their first practice.
I think if you talked to Caldwell and the rest of the front office and coaching staff, they’d probably say this offseason has gone according to plan for the most part.
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