There’s a chance some of the signings the Jacksonville Jaguars have made in this year’s free agency won’t pan out. And while it will be a while before the Jags find out what kind of impact their mos recent additions will or won’t have, giving former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones a top-market contract hasn’t gotten a favorable review.
Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report recently ranked the eight worst moves of the 2022 free-agency period and the Jones signing landed at No. 4 Wharton believes the Jaguars got better with the additions of guard Brandon Scherff, linebacker Foyesade Oluokun, and wide receiver Christian Kirk. On the other hand, he doesn’t see the acquisition of Jones in a favorable light.
"The same can’t be said for the $24 million signing of Zay Jones. The journeyman has little explosiveness, profiling as a possession receiver who does his best work out of the slot. But Jacksonville last year signed Marvin Jones Jr. for $12.5 million as a possession threat, and Kirk is best suited to the slot as well. Signing Zay Jones likely took receiver off the Jags’ list of needs heading into the draft. But no one will be scared of a corps of Kirk and the Joneses. Their lack of physical upside and WR1 traits is an eyesore."
It’s true that Jones hasn’t done had the best numbers throughout his five-year NFL career. A second-round pick in the 2017 draft by the Buffalo Bills, he was traded to the Raiders in 2019 and has had 50 receptions o more in a season just once, and that was back in 2018. Given his past production, it’s hard to justify giving him a three-year $24 million deal. Having said that, general manager Trent Baalke probably compensated him based on what he can do and not what he did. It still doesn’t dispel the notion that the Jags paid him a premium for his services. But all things considered, the contract might not be as bad as it seems.
The Jaguars will need Zay Jones to play at a high level in 2022.
The Jaguars can get out of Jones’ contract after just two seasons with a manageable $1.8 million in dead money, per Over the Cap. However, if they move from him by then, it will have been a bad deal. Although he won’t be asked to be a WR1, he needs to have a career year or have a significant impact on Jacksonville’s offense if he doesn’t want to go down as a bust.
After all, the Jags were the ones that offered Jones that amount of money but he accepted it and a certain level of expectations come with that kind of contract. That’s the nature of this business. You need to demand the most from those that get the better compensation. Also, he will have to stand out in the Jags’ crowded wide receiver room.
Currently, Marvin Jones Jr., Christian Kirk, and Laviska Shenault Jr., are at the top of the depth, and if Jones wants to get playing time, he will need to earn it, which may not prove to be an easy task.
Trevor Lawrence is entering his second season in the pros and he will need as much support as he can from his coaching staff and his teammates if he wants to succeed. Due to the amount of money Jones will get, he could be under a lot of pressure to perform and will be counted on to contribute right off the bat.