There was a 99.9 percent certainty the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to take quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, it was unclear what they planned to do with their second first-round selection, the 25th overall. In the end, the Jags threw a curveball at everyone and chose running back Travis Etienne. Whether the former Tiger starts or not in Week 1, he’s one step closer to being ready for the season opener after signing his rookie deal.
Although the Jaguars haven’t announced the signing, Etienne agreed to the standard four-year pact with a fifth-year option, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. Michael Ginnitti of Spotract reports that the deal is worth $12.89 million with a signing bonus of $6.74 million. Keep in mind that there isn’t much room to negotiate in today’s rookie contract. Nevertheless, it’s great to know the Clemson product has cleared another hurdle ahead of the 2021 season.
Lawrence, along with most of the Jaguars’ 2021 draft class, has already signed his rookie contract. Only cornerback Tyson Cambell and offensive tackle Walker Little remain unsigned.
The Jacksonville Jaguars expect big things from rookie Travis Etienne.
James Robinson was a revelation in the 2020 season, racking up 240 carries for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns. Furthermore, he totaled 1,1414 yards from scrimmage, the most by an undrafted rookie in NFL history. Had he not missed the last two games of the season with an ankle injury, his numbers would have been even better. On the other hand, the need to lessen his workload was clear but few foresaw the Jags taking Etienne.
Think about it, Jacksonville had a stud in Robinson. Moreover, they signed veteran Carlos Hyde, who had a 1,000-yard season in 2019, so running back wasn’t a pressing need. At the time, the decision to draft E-T-N was kind of surprising, especially when you take into account the Jaguars could have taken an offensive tackle or a safety with the 25th pick.
Looking back, the move makes a bit more sense. The Jaguars believe Etienne is more than just a running back. They think he can be a dual-threat the way he was in college. Besides racking up 686 carries for 4,952 carries and 70 touchdowns over his four-year collegiate career, he hauled in 102 receptions for 1,155 for eight touchdowns.
Etienne lined up at wide receiver in rookie minicamp and the Jags expect him to play a key role in the passing game. As good as Robinson was last season, the Jaguars’ offense ranked 28 in rushing yards and 31st in rushing touchdowns. Etienne’s addition will give the running game a boost and add another dimension to the passing game.
You can always find a good running back in the later rounds of the draft. However, Jacksonville couldn’t pass up the chance to take Etienne with the 25th pick. If he becomes a difference-maker right out of the gate and scores a few touchdowns, will it really matter which round the Jags took him in?