The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a busy offseason, hiring Doug Pederson as the head coach after an exhaustive search and going into a shopping spree in free agency. While it will be a while before the Jags can become a viable playoff team, they have taken steps in the right direction. This is reflected in the grade they got from Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report.
Wharton graded every NFL team’s offseason moves ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft and gave the Jaguars a B. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans got a D+ and the Tennesse Titans earned a C. The Indianapolis Colts were the other AFC South team to get a B and that was mostly because they traded for Matt Ryan, who should give them stability at quarterback for at least a couple of years. Regarding Jacksonville, Wharton notes that they upgraded several positional groups but overspent while doing so.
"The offensive line will be better with Brandon Scherff added and Cam Robinson retained. The receiver room improved after acquiring Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram. The defense will benefit from key additions Foyesade Oluokun, Folorunso Fatukasi, and Arden Key. However, the money matters for these deals, too. The Jaguars completely reset the linebacker and receiver market by recklessly throwing cash at the top names. 2022 will be better for this franchise, but some of these top deals will likely look worse over the next 24 months."
While it wasn’t considered in the grade, the hiring of Pederson has to be brought up too. After all, Wharton is talking about ‘offseason moves’, and having a head coach that has previously won the Super Bowl and can help Trevor Lawrence reach his potential will help the Jaguars head in the right direction.
The Jaguars had to overspend in 2022’s free agency to acquire talent.
The Jaguars had no other choice than to spend their abundance of cap space this offseason. While they could have brought back wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. and left guard Andrew Norwell, neither one was a priority on their offseason list. The money they would have spent to re-sign them was allocated to Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Brandon Scherff. Moreover, most of their position groups received a boost, so it’s hard to pan the Jags’ free agency strategy.
Sure, the Jaguars paid a premium for most of the players they sign but that’s what happens when you are routinely in the cellar of the NFL. Sometimes, players will take a discount to join a contender. That’s not Jacksonville’s current situation, which means that they need to lure free agents with piles of cash.
Keep in mind that this was likely a one-year thing. General manager Trent Baalke has said he hopes the Jags get to a point in which they don’t have to heavily rely on free agency. Now, this may be a long process and it may be a while before Jacksonville has a realistic shot to make the playoffs but this free-agency class will lay the foundation for the future.
The Jaguars’ roster was in need of an infusion of talent and the best way to get it was through free agency, regardless of how expensive it was. The Jaguars will now need to add a few different makers in the draft. If they do, they won’t have to depend on free agency as much to get better.