Jacksonville Jaguars address defensive needs in free agency

The Jacksonville Jaguars addressed two critical needs on the defensive side of the ball on Tuesday by signing LB Joe Schobert and CB Darqueze Dennard.

For all the worry from Jacksonville Jaguars fans on the first day of “legal tampering” in free agency that the Jacksonville Jaguars had not signed any big-name players, the second day proved to be the one where the organization laid the groundwork for its 2020 NFL season.

The front office decided to lean toward the defensive side of the ball and raided the state of Ohio by inking Cleveland middle linebacker Joe Schobert to a five-year deal and then followed it up by bringing in cornerback Darqueze Dennard of Cincinnati.

Each player is expected to come in and help a defense that has fallen on hard times and could not stop the run last season. Dennard is going to be asked to come in and fill the slot left open by the trade that sent A.J. Bouye to Denver. Schobert will replace Myles Jack in the middle. Jack, who is a natural outside linebacker, was out of position last season.

Schobert, 26, and the Jaguars agreed to a five-year deal that is worth $53.75 million. The Dennard deal is for three years and $13.5 million. The linebacker unit lost Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith in consecutive seasons. The secondary was rocked by the trade that sent Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams during the season.

The Jaguars announced the Bouye trade last week. Over the weekend, the team also traded Calais Campbell to the Baltimore Ravens for a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was hit with the franchise tag this past week, which will pay him more than $17 million this season. In the final year of his rookie deal, Ngakoue made just over $2 million in 2019.

Those were not the only moves the team made on Tuesday, according to Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser.

“Wide receiver Keelan Cole and linebacker Austin Calitro, a pair of young players who have made key contributions in recent seasons, each received tender offers from the Jaguars Tuesday,” Oehser explains. “Cole received a second-round tender as a restricted free agent and Calitro received a tender offer as an exclusive rights free agent.”

The front office also announced it has released tight end Geoff Swaim who was injured a good portion of the 2019 season and finished the year on injured reserve after signing with Jacksonville in free agency.

While there are issues on both sides of the ball that the Jaguars must fix, the defense may be the most pressing issue. With the majority of the team’s 2017 roster gone, defensive coordinator, Todd Wash will have to redesign a unit that was one of the best in the NFL in 2017. Signing both Schobert and Dennard are the first two steps this week to potentially revamping a defense that needs to be a stout force in the NFL once again.

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