The Jacksonville Jaguars chose to keep their offensive line together and bring back all their starters from last year. This decision could pay off in 2021 and next offseason.
The Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t very good at protecting the quarterback last season. The offensive line gave up 44 sacks and often failed to give whoever was behind center enough time to throw the ball. So what did the team’s brass do to address the situation? They brought back all their starters from 2020 and the only meaningful addition they made to the unit was Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little in Round 2 of this year’s draft.
The Jags believe that keeping the unit together will help them build cohesion, which in turn will lead to a better performance. It seems like a sound idea on paper, but it’s uncertain if it is going to work until they take the field. Based on the early results though, the team might have made the right call. Jacksonville already had a stout interior of the offensive line. They just need more consistency from both offensive tackle spots.
Left tackle Cam Robinson and right tackle Jawaan Taylor struggled last season, allowing 40 and 58 total pressures, respectively. Nevertheless, the Jaguars believe they can get it together in 2021. Instead of letting Robinson hit the free-agent market, they applied the franchise tag on him. After not reaching a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline, he will play the year under the tag, so he and Taylor are set to become free agents next offseason.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will have options next offseason.
Both Robinson and Taylor have had a solid training camp thus far. Maybe the presence of Little served as a wake-up call, or maybe they just needed more time to develop. Regardless of the reason, it looks like they flipped the switch. They still need to play actual football games but it looks like both tackles and trading in the right direction. Also, they will benefit from having a good year, as they will be able to increase their salary demands in free agency.
The Jaguars should have no trouble keeping at least one of them, as they aren’t hurting for cap space. The other side of the coin is that they might not want to allocate so much cap space to the offensive tackle position. Instead, they could let either Robinson or Taylor walk in free agency and let Little take their place in the lineup. The Stanford product has played both tackle positions throughout training camp, so he could step in either spot.
Another alternative would be to let Robinson and Taylor walk away and draft another tackle in the first or second round of next year’s draft. The Jags could then be able to invest more money in other positional groups.
Then again, if Taylor or Robinson (hopefully) play at a high level, why would the team want to move on from them? It may be difficult to keep both but they would most likely be able to keep at least one. Who would it be? Robinson or Taylor? Will this be their last season in Jacksonville? It’s too early to tell but the Jaguars would surely love them to exceed expectations and worry about any potential contract negotiations later.