No. 1 free agent the Jaguars should’ve signed: Chandler Jones, OLB
The Jaguars’ defense ranked fifth in applying pressure last season but were among the teams with the least sacks in the league. Basically, they had a good scheme but not enough playmakers to get to the quarterback. That’s why they focused on upgrading their pass rush this offseason. They signed defensive end Arden Key and later selected Travon Walker with the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Key logged a career-best 6.5 sacks last season and Walker has plenty of upside. Both of them will bolster the Jaguars’ pass rush in 2022 but general manager Trent Baalke should have also considered pursuing outside linebacker Chandler Jones in free agency. Key has only had one good season and Walker will be making the transition to outside linebacker. Meanwhile, Jones has been one of the top edge defenders in the league since the New England Patriots drafted him in 2012.
Jones has recorded 10 or more sacks in seven of his ten NFL seasons. Last season, he logged 10.5 and forced six fumbles. He would have been the perfect bookend opposite outside linebacker Josh Allen while Walker adjusts to his new position. Also, Jones would be joining defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, his position coach with the Arizona Cardinals for the last two years.
If Jacksonville had signed Jones, they might not have had enough money to ink Key but the former would have been a bigger upgrade to their front seven.