The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently going through a soft rebuild. While they moved on from Urban Meyer and brought in Doug Pederson to take his place, they kept general manager Trent Baalke around. Pederson and Baalke seem to be working well together but Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report doesn’t think the duo is doing a good job.
Ballentine recently drew up a list of five teams that are failing their rebuild plan and the Jaguars made the cut. Although he thinks Jacksonville will “certainly be better” with Pederson at the helm, he isn’t particularly thrilled with their free-agent acquisitions, specifically wide receiver Christian Kirk and tight end Evan Engram.
"Christian Kirk (four years, $72 million) will be expected to be the No. 1 receiver despite having just one season with more than 75 catches and not eclipsing 1,000 yards in any of his first four campaigns. Evan Engram has the sixth-highest cap hit at tight end in 2022. He hasn’t topped 700 yards since his rookie campaign in 2017.Paying a premium to get talent when you are a rebuilding franchise is one thing. Overpaying mid-tier players hoping to get premium production is wishful thinking. Putting second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence behind an offensive line that ranks 26th in PFF’s preseason rankings and hoping players like Kirk, Engram and Zay Jones can all have the best seasons of their careers isn’t a sound plan."
The other four teams Ballentine included on his list were the Chicago Bears, the Houston Texans, the Carolina Panthers, and the New Orleans Saints. But the truth is that the Jaguars might have the best quarterback of the bunch. Similarly, Doug Pederson gives Jacksonville an edge at head coach, having helped the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
The Jaguars have taken several steps in the right direction in the offseason
You might have liked the amount of cash the Jaguars forked out for Kirk and Engram but the truth is that bargain shopping wasn’t going to help them win games in 2022. Maybe signing Zay Jones might have been unnecessary but Jacksonville needed to upgrade Trevor Lawrence’s supporting cast and went on to sign some of the best players available in free agency. After all, the roster had many holes and the best way to address them was in the open market.
Also, Ballentine only focused on two signings the Jags made when putting his list together and failed to mention the improvements they made to their defense. Not only did Baalke make sure Lawrence had better overall talent around him but he also put outside linebacker Josh Allen in a position to succeed.
Besides paying a premium for certain players and taking a gamble on Travon Walker, most of the moves the Jaguars made in both free agency and the draft will most likely have a positive impact in 2022. Furthermore, the presence of Pederson should stabilize the organization and help foster a player-friendly environment, so it’s hard to say Jacksonville’s rebuild isn’t headed in the right direction.