Does signing defensive tackle Chris Jones fit into the offseason plans for the Jacksonville Jaguars? Is there a way to make that work the team’s salary cap issues?
How would the Jacksonville Jaguars look on defense if they did not sign Yannick Ngakoue to a long-term deal and instead opened the vault to offer money to Kansas City defensive tackle Chris Jones? The Jaguars, 6-10 last season, have major issues in the middle of their defensive line and as FanSided.com’s Russell Baxter suggests, adding Jones to the roster makes this defense better even before the season starts.
Jacksonville was one of five teams that Baxter targets as possible destinations for Jones, who the team from North Florida saw first hand in a 40-26 loss to open the 2019 season. It was also Jones who hit quarterback Nick Foles on the 11th play of the season and knocked him out for the next 10 weeks with a broken clavicle.
I guess you could say Jones helped to usher in the Gardner Minshew Era in Jacksonville.
Jones would be an immediate upgrade. Given the team does not expect to keep defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on the roster because of salary cap issues, the front office would have to work wonders to make this happen. Also, the Jaguars may be thinking having Josh Allen on the roster is enough to let Ngakoue, who wants to be paid like one of the top pass rushers in the NFL, walk in free agency.
“Some would say the Jacksonville Jaguars have had one of the better defenses in the league over the past three seasons,” Baxter writes. “That may be true in terms of getting after the quarterback. And in 2017, a team bound for the AFC Championship Game was one of the most opportunistic in the league. But all of that aggressive play has resulted in the team being substandard against the run.”
The decision to keep Ngakoue – either with a long-term deal or with the franchise tag – has been a discussion dating back to last season. It continues to fester and a decision looms. NFL teams can start assigning the franchise and transition tags to players starting next week.
The defense has been in decline, especially against the run, as Baxter points out.
“Dating back to ’17, Doug Marrone’s club has ranked 21st, 19th, and 28th, respectively, in the league in rushing yards allowed per game the past three seasons.” he writes.
And during a five-game losing streak, the defense was gashed by opponents who ran right at them. Finding help on the defensive line is one of the top priorities for this team in the offseason.
Jones would be a huge help, but at what cost? Baxter likes the idea of Jones and Calais Campbell on the field at the same time. But the team would also need to find a replacement for Ngakoue’s production.
“He’s [Ngakoue] produced an impressive 37.5 sacks and 14 forced fumbles in four seasons in Jacksonville but is slated to become a free agent and could be tagged before a trade,” Baxter said.