The Jacksonville Jaguars could no longer take a passive approach in free agency and after years of inactivity and minimal spending, they made several splash signings this offseason. Wide receiver Christian Kirk might have gotten more attention due to the blockbuster contract he signed but offensive guard Brandon Scherff could have the biggest impact of all the players the Jags acquired in free agency.
In his national column, Matt Lombardo of FanSided asked several executives and coaches around the league to weigh in on the most impactful free-agent signings this year. Regarding Scherff, an AFC coach believes he’s one of the best guards in the NFL.
"Scherff is one of the top two or three offensive guards in the game… He’s physical. He’s smart. He’s the best puller and out in space guard that there is in today’s NFL."
A first-round pick by the Washington Commanders in the 2015 draft, Scherff signed a three-year, $49.5 million contract to join the Jags after getting the franchise tag in consecutive years. Over the last seven seasons, he’s made 89 starts and has earned four Pro Bowl selections and a First-Team All-Pro designation. But Scherff wasn’t the only Jaguar that got praise. An NFC personnel director also liked the signing of defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi, whom he described as a “big body to drop into the middle of their defensive line” and a “really solid run defender”.
Signing Brandon Scherff comes with a caveat for the Jaguars.
There’s no doubt Scherff will improve the Jaguars’ offensive line and although general manager Trent Baalke had to pay him top-market money, it will be worth it if Trevor Lawrence’s jersey stays clean for most of the game. Having said that, Scherff hasn’t started a full season since 2016 and the Jags coaching staff should be prepared in case he misses time.
If Scherff has to sit out a few games, the Jags could plug in Tyler Shatley in the lineup. He recently signed a two-year deal to return to Jacksonville and has started 18 games over the last two seasons. He should probably be the first in line if Scherff can’t go. Another alternative is Will Richardson, who also came back this offseason on a one-year deal. Although he’s played offensive tackle throughout most of his career, he lined up at right guard last season, so he could play there once again if needed.
At this moment, it’s hard to tell how the Jaguars’ depth chart will look in Week 1 but it’s possible that Ben Bart will start at the other guard spot, which would rule him out as a candidate to step in Scherff’s place if he has to miss games.
The Jaguars are committed to building around Trevor Lawrence. Instead of going for half measures in free agency, they swung for the fences and signed Scherff.