The Jaguars need to stay young at quarterback
Can the Jacksonville Jaguars fill the biggest hole on their roster by finding a young quarterback to lead the franchise into the future?
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill this offseason. One of the more important decisions, if not the most important is how to handle their quarterback situation – not only for the short term, but for the long term viability of the team.
The general consensus from both the national and even our local media is that it’s time for the team to move on from the oft-maligned fifth-year quarterback Blake Bortles.
What makes that a challenging proposition is the $16.5M in dead money that’s left from a three-year contract extension he was rewarded with after leading the team to their first AFC Championship game in over a decade and a half.
There are three ways that this offseason can play out at the quarterback position.
First, cut bait with the former first-round draft pick, eat the contract and draft a quarterbackearly while picking up a journeyman veteran to ‘bridge’ the gap until the rookie is up to speed, as none of this year’s class seems to be quite NFL ready
Second, drastically cut some of the larger cap eating salaries and use the space to pick up one of the high-profile veterans that are likely to hit the market this coming offseason – led by Joe “Is he Elite” Flacco and then follow that up with later round quarterback to hopefully develop into something that resembles a back-up.
Third, go all in on getting the best rookie in this year’s class and roll the dice with Bortles on the roster to act as the bridge while trying to convince a fanbase that is ready to move on that it’s really the best move for the team in the long run.
This writer believes that our best move going forward is the third option. Completely going against the grain of everything we’ve read and heard. Because I remember that we started the season off 3-1 in a dominating fashion.
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I remember that we had injuries at all levels of our offense essentially left the Jags with a MASH unit that, per Spotrac, had the third highest amount of cap space tied up in players on injured reserve. And we were fielding an offense featuring a rotating array of off-the-street guys and veteran retreads.
The imminent release of Flacco has only increased the volume of the call for us to make him a Jaguars player. And in my opinion, signing him (or Eli Manning or Nick Foles or any other high-priced veteran that will command a $20M+ salary) is probably the worst thing the franchise could do. Let’s bring in a rookie.
If he doesn’t seem to have ‘IT’, then we bring in another next year. And we keep bringing in rookie quarterback until we find “THE” guy. It’s the model of the New NFL.
The times they are a changin’.
It seemed like a lifetime ago when NFL teams were built by paying their rookie QBs a king’s ransom before they ever took a snap. Miss on a 1st-rround signal caller and your franchise was set back for at least 2-3 years to recoup the loss. Gone are the days of seeing huge money: ~$50M – Alex Smith, 2005; ~$60M – JaMarcus Russell, 2007; ~$80M – Sam Bradford, 2010, go to guys who had never played a down in the NFL. That’s a lot of money ($190M) tied up in contracts for two playoff wins and only seven total appearances (all by Alex Smith).
Enter the rookie wage scale era.
After the past seven years of all rookies essentially being ‘capped’ or ‘slotted’ to a designated amount of money based on draft position, it seems that teams are beginning to take a different approach to getting to the playoffs. This year alone, seven of the 12 teams that made the post-season did so with their signal caller still on his rookie deal.
So why would a team waste limited resources on a veteran quarterback? Why not continue to draft and develop the quarterback position at a discount while using the rest of the team’s cap money to surround their signal callers with blockers, playmakers and quarterback disrupting defensive players (ends and cornerbacks)?
How can the Jaguars benefit from picking up one of the soon available veterans, say, Joe Flacco, that are going to command a salary that frankly we can’t afford? It’s simple: We won’t.
The Jags need to stay out of the veteran quarterback business and they need to focus on identifying one of the incoming players who can be decent at the next level. With our defense, we don’t need great, we need consistent. We need a quarterback who’s not going to turn the ball over, who can complete a high-percentage of passes, and who can run when needed.
Based on the opinions of those who cover the draft a lot more than I do, none of the signal callers projected in the draft are NFL ‘starter’ ready. They can play, but they may not be quite ready to take a floundering franchise on their shoulders and raise them up. And that’s OK. Our coaching staff, aided by an offensive coordinator that hasn’t been named (crosses fingers for Darrell Bevell), is going to need to find a way to win with some of the pieces they have while the rookie learns the ropes.
– Live by the sword; Die by the sword –
The people responsible for that contract are still in the front office and the quarterback they extended should stick around for another year – while we give our new signal caller an opportunity to learn about the NFL by holding a clipboard and without being thrown directly in the fire.
We don’t even know who his offensive coordinator is going to be yet. And in addition to quarterback, the front office also needs to find playmakers at wide receiver and tight end. They need to figure out a plan for the RBs going forward. We need depth on our O-Line.
There’s a lot of positions to fill for this coming season and there’s not a lot of cap-room to fill them. Our team definitely doesn’t need to make the process harder by creating more holes than are already there.
One thing’s for sure – it’s going to be a very interesting offseasonfor the Jaguars this year.