Yet another national media group, this time Pro Football Focus, has declared the Jaguars the winners of free agency.
After one more successful free agency period, the Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be a much better team than they were at the end of the 2016 regular season.
If you’re not buying into the hype, you’re not alone. The Jaguars allegedly had “successful” free agent hauls in 2015 and 2016, but the results on the field haven’t changed much. I can certainly forgive those who aren’t giving a team that won a combined 8 games over the last 2 season very much credit.
Somehow, there are still some that are giving the Jaguars the benefit of the doubt. John Clayton over at ESPN declared the Jaguars the most improved team after free agency and he’s not alone.
In a piece where he ranked the big winners of the free agency period, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus put the Jaguars at the top of list:
"1. Jacksonville JaguarsSignificant moves: Signed DI Calais Campbell, CB A.J. Bouye and S Barry Church; traded for T Branden AlbertThe Jaguars have been active spenders in free agency for several years running now, and though it has yet to translate to on-field success, they are acquiring quality players along the way, and sooner or later that has to produce results. Calais Campbell is one of the league’s most formidable and disruptive interior defenders, coming off the best season of his career despite being north of 30 years old now. Campbell notched 54 total QB pressures in 2016 as well as 34 defensive stops. Only Malik Jackson posted more pressures among Jacksonville defensive linemen, and Campbell would have led the Jags with defensive stops. A.J. Bouye’s play at CB last season was excellent for Houston, earning him a huge contract, and he should pair well with second-year player Jalen Ramsey to form arguably the league’s best young tandem at CB. Barry Church was impressive in 2016 for Dallas, and even Branden Albert has proven to be a quality player in the past and battled through injury last year, so to snag him for barely any outlay is a solid move to see if he has anything left."
It’s easy to forget about Branden Albert (the only significant offensive addition), but he could turn out to be the most important acquisition. The Jaguars quietly had a pretty bad offensive line in 2016, so a potentially huge upgrade at left tackle could do wonders for quarterback Blake Bortles.
The rest of the signings speak for themselves, as the Jaguars managed to get arguably three of the best available players at their position in Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, and Barry Church. All three should come in right away and provide a significant increase in quality at their respective spots.