The Jacksonville Jaguars made a big splash by signing top free-agent cornerback A.J. Bouye, but not everyone thinks it’s a home run.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have made waves in free agency for the second straight year, but this time they’ve focused exclusively on the defensive side of the ball. After locking up Barry Church and (narrowly) Calais Campbell, the front office went all out to secure cornerback A.J. Bouye.
After letting Prince Amukamara walk, the Jaguars were clearly going to target one of the defensive backs hitting the market. They set their sights on the top guy and they got him.
Bleacher Report thinks Bouye is a good player, but the Jaguars might’ve been better served investing in a different position:
"Five years, $67.5 million with $26 million guaranteed [Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle]Including franchise-tagged Rams corner Trumaine Johnson, only four cornerbacks are slated to have higher salaries than A.J. Bouye will under this deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.That’s a little dicey considering the 25-year-old has been a starter for just one season, but Bouye appears to be emerging in a major way. He was graded by PFF as the ninth-best corner in football last season, surrendering completions on just 54.5 percent of the passes thrown his way.And numbers don’t do justice to some of his late-season showings, especially the dominant performance he put together in a Wild Card Game victory over the Oakland Raiders.The Jags certainly had the money to spend, and a defense that gave up 25.0 points per game last season can use the help. But this is probably a boom-or-bust signing, which is risky with so many other holes to fill and Jalen Ramsey already on the roster.Grade: B-"
Bill Barnwell starts off talking about how terrifying the Jaguars are at cornerback now, but then devolves into his usual pessimism:
"CB A.J. Bouye, JaguarsGrade: C+If you were picking two cornerbacks 25 or younger to build around, you might very well choose Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, who will be teaming up at corner for the Jags the next few years. Bouye came on as an undrafted free agent for the Texans and had a strange career…Both Ramsey and Bouye have experience playing in the slot, which will allow Jags defensive coordinator Todd Wash plenty of flexibility in how he wants to use his two corners. Although Wash is a holdover from the old staff, he might choose to play more man coverage than Gus Bradley did during his time in Jacksonville, and Ramsey and Bouye should be able to hold up relatively well. With the addition of Calais Campbell up front, this is a scary defense, arguably one edge rusher away from ranking among the best in football.There is some risk with Bouye, given that this was really the first season he played at a high level. The Texans evaluated him after a season as their third corner in 2014 and used a first-round pick on a cornerback anyway, which reveals what they thought of him at the time. Bouye’s five-year deal is for $67.5 million with $26 million fully guaranteed and $44 million the first three years, which compares favorably with the $39.7 million Janoris Jenkins received on his five-year, $62.5 million deal with the Giants last offseason. If Bouye plays at the same level he did last year, the Jaguars might have the best pair of young corners in football. “If” can be a very lucrative word."
Pro Football Focus unabashedly loves the signing, and also thinks the Jaguars got a below-market deal:
"Actual: Five years, $67.5 million, $20 million guaranteedPFF play-earned contract: Five years, $68.9 million, $25.1 million guaranteedGrade: AA year ago, A.J. Bouye was an unknown quantity, but he finished the season as PFF’s third-ranked CB with an overall grade of 90.9. Bouye allowed just 54.5 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught for only 9.8 yards per catch, and showed legitimate No. 1 corner upside."
In my opinion, it’s hard to be down on this signing. Barnwell’s write-up is almost comical, as he spends a majority of it talking about how great it is and how good a player Bouye is. PFF has it right – this is absolutely an ‘A’ signing.
For the second straight season, the Jaguars went after the top defensive free agent and they got him. Kudos to Tom Coughlin, David Caldwell, and the rest of the front office.