Signing Arden Key named the Jaguars’ best offseason move in 2022

Jaguars DL (53) Arden Key Jacksonville Jaguars Organized Team Activities at TIAA Bank Field. (Imagn Images photo pool)
Jaguars DL (53) Arden Key Jacksonville Jaguars Organized Team Activities at TIAA Bank Field. (Imagn Images photo pool) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars spent the last few months making upgrades to their roster. While they made several moves that will potentially have a huge impact in 2022, signing former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arden Key is seen as the best they made.

Brad Spieldberger of Pro Football Focus recently talked about the best move each AFC team made in the offseason and believes that the Jags hit it out of the ballpark when they signed Key. Spielberger points out that the former LSU Tiger is coming off a productive six-week stretch in the 2021 season and thinks that he will give Jacksonville’s defensive front a boost.

"Key set career highs across the board in 2021, with a 79.4 pass-rush grade and 36 quarterback pressures on just 260 pass-rush snaps. Most notable was his late-season transition to playing more as a 3-technique and 4i on the interior in passing situations, which led to the best football of his career. From Weeks 13-18, Key’s 90.8 pass-rush grade was the top mark among edge defenders, and his 24 quarterback pressures tied for sixth over that span.Key’s versatility could enable the Jaguars to deploy Josh Allen and Waler on the edge with Key and Roy Robertson-Harris on the interior in obvious passing situations, a potentially strong third-down unit as the season progresses."

A third-round selection by the Las Vegas Raiders in 2018, Key never really found his footing during his three-year stint with the Silver and Black. Not long after being waived last year, the Niners signed him. And even though he didn’t make a single start in 2021, he logged 6.5 sacks after recording a combined three the previous three seasons.

Arden Key was a low-key, solid addition for the Jaguars in free agency

The addition of Key in free agency didn’t get as much fanfare as the Christian Kirk signing but it has the potential to pay off. Last season, the 49ers had the edge rusher play at several spots across the defensive line, and there’s a chance the Jaguars’ coaching staff will use him in a similar manner.

Key is reunited with defensive line coach Brentson Bucker, his position coach back in his rookie campaign. Bucker knows Key’s weaknesses and strengths and he will surely have a big say in how the team uses him this upcoming season. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Georgia native might get plenty of snaps inside.

John Shipley of Jaguar Report said not long ago that Key didn’t get many reps at outside linebacker in the spring, so it’s possible that he will probably see the field at the same time as Travon Walker and Josh Allen, giving the Jaguars’ a terrifying pass-rush trio.

Key’s one-year deal could be worth as much as $7 million. That’s not exactly chump change but if he plays the way he did last year and lives up to expectations, the Jaguars will gladly pay him.

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