Jaguars cannot neglect their running back room this offseason

RB James Robinson #30, RB Travis Etienne Jr. #1 and RB Carlos Hyde #24 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Imagn Images photo pool)
RB James Robinson #30, RB Travis Etienne Jr. #1 and RB Carlos Hyde #24 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Imagn Images photo pool) /

Last offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ running back backfield looked like a position of strength with the addition of Travis Etienne and an ascending James Robinson. However, the unit will need a boost with both players suffering serious injuries in 2021.

Not long ago, Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus talked about every NFL team’s offseason needs and believes that the Jags have to make upgrades for every position but running back and quarterback. Treash notes that Jacksonville has one of the worst in the league but has a promising quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, who is entering his second year in the league. Moreover, he notes that the organization will have several resources to make changes to the roster.

"The bad news for the Jaguars is that their roster is one of the NFL’s worst. The good news is that Trevor Lawrence is an incredibly promising quarterback and the team ranks second in total cap space available and owns the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Jaguars have the firepower to sign one of the premier free agents this offseason."

Threash wrote his assessment before the Jaguars hired Doug Pederson as a head coach but it remains mostly the same. The Jaguars will have around $60 million per cap space and 12 draft selections, including four in the first three rounds. That should be more than enough to infuse the roster with a few playmakers.

The Jaguars need to add depth to their running back room.

Treash doesn’t talk in detail about the Jags’ running back backfield but the truth is that they do need to add depth. Etienne sustained a Lisfranc injury in the preseason and went on to miss his rookie campaign. Barring any setbacks, he should be back for training camp. On the other hand, Robinson tore his Achilles late in the year and may not be available for the start of the 2022 season.

Even if Etienne is full-go in 2022, the Jaguars need to add another running back. Carlos Hyde has one year left on the contract he signed last offseason but wasn’t productive when he saw the field, averaging 3.5 yards on 72 carries. Releasing him would create almost $2 million in cap space with a moderate $450,000 cap hit. The Jags could then use the savings to sign someone like Chase Edmonds or Sony Michel in free agency or use a third or fourth-round selection on someone like Cincinnati’s Jerome Ford.

At worst, the Jags would have insurance Etienne has to miss time and Robinson’s recovery takes more time than expected. At best, the Jaguars would have a pretty solid running back group, and you can never have enough good players, right?

Of course, running back isn’t the only need the Jaguars need to address this offseason. They also need to solidify their offensive line and add a playmaker to their wide receiver corps. While nobody should expect them to become a contender in Pederson’s first year at the helm, they could improve considerably if they make the right moves. Then again, the bar isn’t set particularly high after winning a combined two games in the last two years.

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