5 early free agents the Jaguars must target in 2023 to round out roster
No. 4 early free agent the Jaguars must consider: Damien Harris, RB
The Jags have one of the best running backs in the NFL in Travis Etienne. However, the coaching staff must avoid overworking him if they don’t want his wheels to fall off. To prevent that from happening, the Jaguars’ brass could sign New England Patriots running back Damien Harris.
Even though Harris doesn’t have a high profile, he’s been highly productive for the Pats over the last three seasons, toting the rock 410 times for 1,922 yards with 20 touchdowns. With the emergence of Rhamondre Stevenson in 2022, there might no longer be room for Harris.
While there will probably be other more well-known running backs in the open market next offseason, Harris doesn’t have much tread on the tires and could form a dynamic duo alongside Etienne in Jacksonville.
No. 3 early free agent the Jaguars must consider: Jessie Bates, S
The Jags have a rising young star in sophomore Andre Cisco and fellow safety Rayshawn Jenkins has rebounded after having a down season in 2021. However, they’ve struggled to defend the pass and create turnovers in recent weeks.
Jenkins will still have two years left in his contract in 2023 but the Jags can release him and free up $6.2 million in cap space with $4 million in dead money. They could then use the savings to sign Jessie Bates III, who would be an upgrade at safety.
A second-round pick in 2018, Bates was scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason but couldn’t reach a long-term deal with the Cincinnati Bengals and was instead slapped with the franchise tag. He’s once again set to hit the open market and if he does, the Jags might need to consider upgrading their safety room.
In 72 career games, Bates has registered 38 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and eight interceptions.