TJ Yeldon makes the list of possible Jacksonville Jaguars hitting free agency before the team’s week one tilt at Houston. This shouldn’t be a surprise.
When asked which player he saw as a potential cut, Mike Kaye of WTLV offered up the former second round pick out of Alabama’s name. Yeldon‘s career yards per attempt sit at a paltry 3.9 so far.
Logistically, this shouldn’t shock most Jaguars fans. In fact, there was speculation of a trade on this very site. General manager David Caldwell and former head coach Gus Bradley drafted Yeldon with the idea that he could be a three down, “bell cow” back. As of yet, this has not transpired.
Although Yeldon has flashed at times, the production has simply yet to match the value of the draft pick.
From a draft that gave us both Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, Yeldon’s slow development is disappointing.
Even in the 2016 offseason while playing for the coach who lobbied for him from the very beginning, the Jaguars brass attempted to relieve some of his responsibilities. The answer was free agent Chris Ivory formerly of the New York Jets. The hope was the veteran presence could help Yeldon settle into a more situational role and provide elusiveness and pass catching ability to complement Ivory’s between the tackles, aggressive style.
What the Jaguars got instead was a paltry rushing offense that was good for just 22nd in the league.
The writing was clearly on the wall when the new regime selected Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. There is no more talk of Yeldon as a three down back. Although popular speculation immediately following the drat saw Jacksonville parting ways with the expensive Ivory, reports thus far have bucked the trend. Couple that with effusive praise from current head coach Doug Marrone on Fournette’s ability to catch the ball and it doesn’t look like there is any room left for Yeldon’s skill set.
Still, with plenty of cap room, the Jaguars could easily find roster space and use for three talented players
Why rush to cut a running back before watching him play behind a functional offensive line?
Surprisingly, the biggest threat to Yeldon’s security could be Corey Grant.
In very limited 2016 action, the undrafted second-year player out of Auburn boasted burner speed and showed good elusiveness. There is no guarantee that he will develop into a quality NFL role player. However, his speed could make him more of an asset than Yeldon despite the latter’s draft pedigree. Remember that Grant also flashed as a kick returner.
Say front office wants to take a chance on Grant’s speed. All of a sudden we’re talking about putting Yeldon fourth on the depth chart. Remember the re-emergence of the fullback on the 2017 Jaguars. It’s a long shot that the fourth halfback finds a roster spot, much less a jersey on game day.
What do you think? Is Yeldon’s job in jeopardy? If you had to choose, would you rather hang onto him or take a chance on the speedy Grant?