The Jacksonville Jaguars have done a good job of revamping the defensive front in the offseason. After making a few additions in free agency, they took USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele with the first pick in the fourth round, the 106th overall pick, of the 2021 NFL. The unit now has talent and depth, so the team’s decision not to exercise the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Taven Bryan didn’t come as a surprise.
A first-round pick in 2018, Bryan is one of the few first-round players from that year that didn’t have his fifth-year option picked up. Although he will remain with the Jags in 2021 he will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason and the odds of him staying in Jacksonville have decreased considerably.
When the Jaguars drafted the Florida product, they were coming off an AFC Championship appearance and had the second-best defense in the NFL, so Bryan looked like the cherry in the top and someone who could help turn their defensive line from dominant to unstoppable. Alas, he has been a non-factor over his three-year career, logging 71 total tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, and one forced fumble in 48 games.
Even though the defensive tackle hasn’t missed a single game in his NFL career, he’s never played more than 46 percent of Jacksonville’s total snaps on defense, and the only reason he saw that amount of playing time in 2020 was because DaVon Hamilton and Doug Costin missed time with injuries. Had they been healthy, Bryan would’ve probably had even fewer snaps.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been preparing
The fact Hamilton and Costin outplayed Bryan last season was the first sign the Jags weren’t pleased with his performance. They signed defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris and also traded for Malcom Brown this offseason, so it was clear the team wanted an upgrade at defensive tackle and after taking Tufele, Bryan may have a hard time seeing the field in 2021. While he’s not done just yet, he’s running out of time and will need to have a strong training camp for him to have a shot at remaining with the team beyond this season.
Maybe Jacksonville wasn’t a fit. Perhaps the Jaguars’ front office didn’t evaluate Bryan correctly but regardless of the reason, the writing is on the wall for Bryan.