The Jacksonville Jaguars are certainly a more talented team after some free agent signings, but they paid the highest price to get their guys.
“The Jacksonville Jaguars have the most salary cap room in the NFL.”
That’s a phrase we’ve heard many times over the past three years as the Jaguars went through a comprehensive (and painful) rebuild. With a renewed commitment to build their foundation through the draft, general manager David Caldwell purged all the dead weight (bloated veteran contracts) and hoarded as much money as he could in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
The team started handing out big contracts last year, but they stepped it up even more in 2017.
Kevin Seifert over at ESPN tallied up all the dollars teams have given out so far in free agency, and shockingly the Jacksonville Jaguars ranked number 1.
"1. Jacksonville JaguarsSum of guarantees to UFAs: $68.75 millionPlayers signed: cornerback A.J. Bouye, defensive end Calais Campbell, safety Barry Church, linebacker Lerentee McCray.More from Jacksonville Jaguars NewsJacksonville Jaguars should welcome Derrick Henry into the kingdomJaguars Rumors: Trent Baalke seems to be getting respect nowJaguars News: This division rival might be making a big moveFormer Jacksonville Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien: “New Profession, Same Standards”Jacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram officially gets the franchise tag: 3 takeawaysAnalysis: The Jaguars led the NFL in total money committed to unrestricted free agents from 2014 to ’16, and their approach did slow after a front-office reorganization. Now led by executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars signed the top cornerback (Bouye) and also one of the few veteran pass-rushers (Campbell) who were available. The fickle nature of heavy free-agent activity has been well-documented. But on paper, the Jaguars look stronger up front with Campbell joining veterans Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr., Abry Jones and Yannick Ngakoue. Bouye and Church, meanwhile, will bolster a secondary that also includes cornerback Jalen Ramsey and safety Tashaun Gipson."
The Jaguars spent over $10 million more than the second spendthrift-iest team (the Cleveland Browns), mostly because the Jaguars went for the top of the market. Bouye and Campbell were by far the best players available at their position (sorry Stephon Gilmore) and Barry Church was likely more coveted by teams than most would expect.
I like this approach far more than what the Jaguars were doing early in the Caldwell era – if you are going to spend money on free agents, sign a few high-end guys instead of numerous middling guys and hope one of them pans out.