To say the Jacksonville Jaguars have dominated 2017 free agency so far would not be an inaccurate statement, making moves in every possible way to improve.
The headlines are glaring across the NFL right now and every minute seems to bring more news of a team making a big move. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been in the thick of that excitement, bringing in players from anywhere and everywhere while also trimming the roster.
Without further ado, let’s recap how this has been going by section: acquisitions, re-signings, and departures.
Calais Campbell, defensive lineman
One of the two biggest additions for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Calais Campbell comes to the team via a $60 million deal over four years with $30 million guaranteed. He is a force to be reckoned with and has 56.5 career sacks.
The big takeaway with Campbell is that he both versatile and also productive. Whether rushing from the inside or further out as a 5-technique, the defensive lineman gets the job done. The Jags can use that to their advantage, rotating in players like Yannick Ngakoue, Dante Fowler Jr., and Abry Jones to get the best matchup along the line.
Still in the prime of his career, Campbell will dominate for at least a few more years and also open up opportunities for other players on the line. He doesn’t take plays off. As written by Michael Sheppard, with Campbell, the Jags D-Line will be a “force of nature.”
A.J. Bouye, cornerback
The other big-name addition to the Jacksonville Jaguars, A.J. Bouye comes to Jacksonville from the division rival Houston Texans. Bouye was the biggest free agent on the market according to some estimates and he will instantly improve the secondary.
In a contest against the Tennessee Titans, the Jags ultimately pulled ahead and landed Bouye for $67.5 million over five years with $26 million guaranteed. It’s big money but for a player that should be worth every penny. Bouye had the sixth lowest passer rating when quarterbacks threw toward him, per NFL Research.
“I could tell they really wanted me,” Bouye said. With that kind of money, it’s certainly true.
Barry Church, strong safety
The first announced deal for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Barry Church fills in for Johnathan Cyprien. Cyprien has never been much better than a mid-level safety and Church immediately offers an upgrade.
"And the six million per year may be well spent on Church. Since becoming a full time starter in 2013, Church has five interceptions, 16 passes defensed, seven fumbles forced, and 330 tackles. That’s some solid production from Church and will instantly improve the Jags secondary. For comparison, Johnathan Cyprien (hitting the market on Thursday) had two interceptions, 15 passes defensed, four fumbles forced, two fumbles recovered, two sacks, and 339 tackles. Church has made bigger plays in that same time period and can be relied upon to do so while Cyprien has struggled to be more than just a guy on the defense."
It appeared the Jags may only walk away with Church, but the team fortunately managed to string together some other deals. Church is coming to Jacksonville on a four-year deal worth more than $6 million annually.
Branden Albert, offensive tackle
This was the deal the Jacksonville Jaguars had in the works well before free agency began. Originally a player-for-player trade, the Jags ultimately secured Branden Albert for a 2018 seventh-round draft pick.
The trade was made official after free agency opened. Albert will bring leadership to the offensive line and will put his head down to do his job well each and every day. He’s excited to be with the team and get his job done.
While Albert may be more of a stop-gap at the position, he is an upgrade over Kelvin Beachum, who manned the position the year before. The Jags declined Beachum’s option in 2017.
Lerentee McCray, linebacker
Lerentee McCray is not a household name by a long stretch, but he is a solid special teams player. Joining his former coordinator, Joe DeCamillis, who he worked with in 2015 while with the Denver Broncos, McCray should instantly help the Jags special teams unit improve from being a perennial disappointment.
The $3.5 million deal with $1 million guaranteed isn’t going to break the bank for the Jaguars over the next year. If he plays well, the Jags would be wise to invest further.
Earl Watford, guard
Watford is a versatile player, capable of playing every position on the offensive line. He has starting experience (11 games last season, 13 total games over three years) and can step up for any position as required. With the Jags emphasizing versatility since Tom Coughlin returned to town, this deal makes perfect sense.
Ian Rapoport reports that the deal is worth $6 million over two years making it an absolute bargain for the Jags to add the guard.
Stefan Charles, defensive tackle
Expected to compete for playing time with backups Sheldon Day and Michael Bennett, Stefan Charles adds some ferocity to the defensive line. The line is already going to be quite tough, but having depth that can push the other players to be their best is always a welcome addition.
Audie Cole, linebacker
The Jags continue their rebuild on special teams by adding Audie Cole. The linebacker comes from the Minnesota Vikings and has played as a depth player there but primarily contributes on special teams.