Will the Jacksonville Jaguars look to sign former Cincinnati Bengals players who are familiar with new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s system?
The Jaguars figure to be active in free agency this offseason, but to what degree is unknown yet because the salary cap is impeding any progress the team could make in bringing in veteran players.
That all should change once the 2020 NFL season begins and the salary cap is adjusted and the front office decides what to do with key veterans with high salaries. Marcell Dareus, Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, Geoff Swaim, Marqise Lee, and Brandon Linder could all be affected if there are sweeping changes to this roster.
It won’t get to that point for some.
There are factors that will affect how the team plays its cards in free agency and how players will be receptive to offers made to them, making the move to Florida and the thought of no state income tax.
London may weigh heavily in the decision now that the team will spend two weeks across the pond and will be taxed more heavily on two game checks. Also, the thought of being away from families may be part of the equation to sign on the dotted line or not.
Another factor may how defensive coordinator Todd Wash makes adjustments to a defense that was considered elite just two seasons ago and is now one of the worst in the league in terms of stats. Also, how will offensive players view the signing of new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who was the head coach in Washington for five-plus seasons before being fired in 2019?
Gruden is a strong offensive mind who used the west coast offense to get the most out his players while he served in the same capacity in Cincinnati prior to being with the Redskins. It also stands to reason, with key Bengals free agents on the market, will the Jaguars look to add anyone who has a familiarity with Gruden’s system?
Tight end Tyler Eifert, although riddled with injuries the past few seasons, might be a target for Jacksonville, possibly as a low-risk, high-reward player. It was successful with wide receiver Chris Conley this past season.
A.J. Green, the talented veteran wide receiver, will be on many wish lists. He is an expensive player in terms of contract cost, but if the Jaguars somehow were able to reel him in, he would be a definite boost to the passing game. A combination that included Green, DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook and Conley could be one of the better pass-catching units in the NFL.
The other possibility, as Sayre Bedinger of NFL Mocks, wrote, centers around Andy Dalton, who has been the Bengals starter and had his best seasons with Gruden in Cincinnati. Would the Jaguars consider him, if they were to move on from Nick Foles or have him compete with the veteran for the starting job?
“The Bengals are now poised to use the top overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Joe Burrow, so Dalton will obviously be gone. I think teams will wait for him to be released with a base salary of $17.5 million this season and almost no dead money charged to the Bengals,” Bedinger writes.
The Jaguars have given no indication they will part ways with Foles, who is owed $22 million his season, but the team would have a cap hit of almost $34 million if they release him. Jacksonville would need to find a trade partner to absorb the majority of the salary for this coming season.
“Jay Gruden, the new offensive coordinator in Jacksonville, was once Andy Dalton’s offensive coordinator in Cincinnati,” Bedinger adds. “He coached Dalton to a Pro Bowl in his rookie season and some of his better years as a pro from 2011-13 before he got his head coaching gig with the Redskins in 2014.”