The Jacksonville Jaguars underwent an impressive turnaround in 2022, going from last to first in the AFC South and making the playoffs for the first time since 2017. If the Jags want to avoid taking a step back, they’ll need to take care of a few things in the offseason, and that includes getting under the cap.
ESPN put together a “way too early” power ranking for the 2023 NFL season and not surprisingly, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles claimed the top two spots. Meanwhile, Jacksonville landed at No. 10 and Michael DiRocco, a trusted voice when it comes to Jaguars football, believes getting fixing the cap is at the top of their to-do list in the offseason.
"The Jaguars are $30.1 million over the salary cap. GM Trent Baalke is going to have to make some cuts (CB Shaquill Griffin is almost certainly one) and restructure some contracts to get under the cap. Getting this done will make re-signing TE Evan Engram and possibly RT Jawaan Taylor a little easier, though expect the Jaguars to be careful wit how much money they’re pushing into the future because they’ll need to start at least talking about a long-term deal for QB Trevor Lawrence after the 2023 season."
This isn’t the first time the cap has been brought up when discussing the Jags’ offseason needs. As DiRocco noted, cornerback Shaquill Griffin could be a cap casualty. Similarly, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris and offensive linemen Tyler Shatley could be released or have their current deals restructured.
The Jacksonville Jaguars should have no trouble getting under the cap
There are many ways the Jacksonville Jaguars can get cap relief. Giving outside linebacker Josh Allen a multi-year extension is one possibility. Another path involves restructuring the contracts of wide receiver Christian Kirk and linebacker Foyesade Oluokun to push some of their salary into future years.
Once the Jags free up cap space, they’ll need to decide whether they’ll re-sign tight end Evan Engram, right tackle Jawaan Taylor and/or defensive end Arden Key, their top three players set to hit the open market. Then, they’ll need to decide which players they’ll pursue in free agency, but given the limited amount of cap space they’ll probably have, they’ll probably refrain from making a splash signing.
Even if the team’s brass isn’t able to bring back Engram or any of their key free agents, they should be able to restock the roster in the 2023 NFL Draft. They currently hold the 24th overall pick and should be in a position to take a cornerback, a tight end, or even a pass rusher. They can also address another need with their second and third-round picks.
It would be great to see the Jacksonville Jaguars give Engram, Taylor, and Key long-term arrangements but it’s simply not feasible for cap reasons. Either way, they have enough talent on both sides of the ball to compete for a playoff berth and potentially appear in Super Bowl 58.