The Jacksonville Jaguars will be big spenders in free agency, but they should bow out of the Johnathan Cyprien sweepstakes.
When he took over as general manager in 2013, David Caldwell had a nice bit of draft capital to start his rebuild of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately, the second overall pick in that draft (and the subsequent first or second pick of each of the following rounds) didn’t have the same value in what was a historically awful draft.
After taking their presumed left tackle of the future in Luke Joeckel at number 2 overall, the Jaguars took Johnathan Cyprien with the first pick of the second round. Many lauded both selections, claiming the Jaguars got arguably two top-15 players in the draft class.
Fast forward to 2017 – Luke Joeckel has been a massive draft bust and Cyprien is walking into free agency without much chatter of a contract extension.
Joeckel has objectively been terrible given his draft status, but you can at least say Cyprien was a respectable player in 2016. Granted he was maybe one of the worst starting safeties in the NFL over his first three years, but Cyprien clearly played better last year when he was asked to cover less.
Pro Football Focus gave him a very good grade for his play last year, but they still think he’s going to be one of the most overpaid free agents this offseason:
"More from Jacksonville Jaguars News3 potential trade partners for Jacksonville Jaguars CB Shaquill GriffinJaguars should explore trading for Michael Thomas amid Calvin Ridley suspensionJacksonville Jaguars named best fit for CB James Bradberry in 2023 NFL free agencyJacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram highlights discrepancy in WR and TE salariesJacksonville Jaguars land DeAndre Hopkins in trade proposal to stop the KC Chiefs3. John Cyprien, S, Jacksonville JaguarsCyprien showed his potential in the 2016 season, finally reconciling the NFL player with the first-round draft status his college career earned him. The trouble is, though, that the NFL isn’t struggling to find that type of player. Closer to the line of scrimmage, Cyprien was excellent this past season, trailing only Giants S Landon Collins in defensive stops, with 38. Cyprien’s coverage has been a problem in the NFL, though, and he will struggle if asked to play deeper off the line. Some team will likely fall in love with his impact plays at the line of scrimmage, and Cyprien’s 98.8 run-defense grade is the highest we have seen from a safety over the past decade. This brand of play is easier to find than a coverage specialist, however, and likely isn’t worth the cost."
The best thing I could say about Cyprien last year is I rarely was outraged at him allowing a huge play in the passing game. That’s almost completely attributed to the fact that the Jaguars kept Cyprien in the box and levied all the coverage responsibility to Tashaun Gipson.
As PFF says, it’s much easier to find a box safety than it is to find an effective back-end coverage safety. Cyprien was legitimately horrific in his first three years and I don’t think he’s at all a playmaker. Let some other team overypay Cyprien and give anyone else a shot (see: James Sample, a free agent, or a draft selection).