NFL teams need as many blue-chip players as they can get their hands on but you can’t realistically fill a roster solely with All-Pro talent. You also need contributors that can deliver when called upon. Four-year safety Andrew Wingard is one of those players and in Week 12, he played a key role in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Down 19-17 and with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Wingard forced Ravens running back Gus Edwards to fumble and cornerback Tyson Campbell scooped the ball. The Jaguars went on to score 11 points and win the game.
Head coach Doug Pederson met with the local media Wednesday and talked about what Wingard means to the team.
“He’s been through a lot with his team”, Pederson said. “Been here now for a while and hasn’t had the success that he probably had hoped for. He’s one of the guys, he’s a core leader on this team, and he wears his emotions on his sleeve too”.
“And it’s great to see he’s very passionate about the organization as players and teammates and he had a heck of a game Sunday. He came up with a big turnover in the red zone and plays great on special teams. We asked him to do a lot, just means a lot to the organization, to the team, and to the locker room”; Pederson said.
This might be Andrew Wingard’s farewell season with the Jaguars
After going undrafted in 2019, Wingard signed with the Jaguars. Although he was mostly relegated to special teams in his rookie campaign he made two starts. He would continue moving up the depth chart and was named the starter next to Rayshawn Jenkins before the start of the 2022 season.
Wingard went on to make 15 starts and register 88 total tackles and one interception last year. But with sophomore Andre Cisco joining the starting lineup this season, he mostly saw time on special teams and only made his first start until Week 12.
It would be a good idea to keep giving Wingard playing time on defense for the remainder of the season but the Jaguars’ brass also needs to start planning (if they haven’t already) what they want to do with him in 20213. After all, the former Wyoming Cowboy is set to become a free agent next offseason and there could be demand for his services.
The Jaguars already have a pair of starting safeties in Cisco and Jenkins. Moreover, they will be working with a limited budget and might have bigger priorities in free agency, so this could turn out to be Wingard’s last season in Jacksonville. Of course, the Jags and the player known as Dewey could find common ground but it wouldn’t be particularly shocking to see him look for opportunities to start somewhere else.
Wingard may or may not be back in 2023 but there’s no doubt that he’s made the most of his chances since joining the Jags back in 2019.