Is there a chance the Jacksonville Jaguars will make another free agent move or two prior to the start of training camp?
I’ve asked this question a few months ago, but I think it bears repeating. Have the Jacksonville Jaguars done enough this offseason to help this team escape the AFC South basement?
The question isn’t worded the same, but the implication behind it has myself and many Jaguars fans wondering if there is another chess piece the team brings in before training camp begins to add in the transition from the 6-10 season last year to the optimistic 2020 campaign.
I’m curious if the moves the front office made on defense are enough – especially with the interior defensive line. Also, since there are only a few days before the Jaguars front office will know the fate of Yannick Ngakoue, is there a chance general manager David Caldwell makes another move should the pass rusher decide to sit out all of 2020?
There are two moves I would make this week, which have no bearing on Ngakoue, but they would help both the run defense and the play at linebacker this year.
First, I would kick the tires on bringing back Marcell Dareus for one more season at a reasonable dollar figure. The next move would be to sign Donald Payne to a deal that strengthens the middle line of defense.
Dareus’ worth to the team was evident the moment he suffered a core muscle injury and was lost for the season. The run defense was never the same. Much like the 2017 season when the team added the former Buffalo Bills player to help aid the interior defensive line, the unit played better with him in the lineup.
Last season, his injury created a crater-sized hole opposing running backs walked through with ease.
Payne’s play for the Jaguars, especially in the final five weeks of the season, was a blessing. Filling in for the injured Myles Jack, Payne became a tackling machine and showed he could cover running backs and tight ends across the middle. While Joe Schobert is the MIKE linebacker and potential leader of the defense, Payne’s energy is something this team should welcome back.
As of right now, according to Spotrac, the Jacksonville Jaguars have more than $19.4M in available cap space, which includes the $17.8M allocated for Ngakoue’s salary this season. If he does not sign the franchise tag offer this week, the Jaguars would be amongst the top three NFL teams with money left to spend.
The defensive roster is quite different from just three months ago when Caldwell and the front office began the purge to change the identity of this franchise. Many Jaguars fans, including myself, have questioned certain moves – both addition and subtraction. The one thing everyone should be able to agree upon is this team is more athletic, younger, and faster than it was in January.
Maybe that is my way of easing the pain of seeing fan favorites leave under difficult circumstances.
Don’t be surprised if the Jaguars’ front office does nothing more to tinker with the current roster. But don’t be shocked if there is another move or two to strengthen the defense. It might not be the addition of Payne or Dareus, but here’s one fan who hopes the team reaches out to make that kind of decision.
Adding one or both players helps this team get better in a shorter amount of time. Sitting and doing nothing may do the same, but fans would like to think the front office exhausts all possibilities before the Jaguars walk into training camp at the end of the month.