Defensive end Roy Roberston-Harris was a key cog for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year but he’s entering the last year of the contract he signed in 2021 and could potentially be a cap casualty this offseason. While releasing him is a realistic possibility, the Jags would be better off trading him.
Adam Rank of NFL Media recently discussed five potential blockbuster trades this offseason and Roberson-Harris’ name was brought up. Rank notes that the former UTEP Miner isn’t a bonafide start but believes he could be a solid acquisition for teams in need of defensive line help.
"The Jaguars spent a whole lot of money last offseason. Now, the waiter just dropped off the check at the table. Currently deep in the red when it comes to cap space, Jacksonville is going to have to move on from some players. Robertson-Harris isn’t a “STOP THE PRESSES!” type of trade chip but he’s the kind of low-key acquisition that a smart from office grabs to help out the defensive line. Especially one that needs to get better against the ground game."
Robertson-Harris signed with the Chicago Bears after going undrafted in 2017 and he inked a worth $24 million over three years with the Jags in 2021. He’s set to count $10.1 million against the cap this season in 2023 but releasing him or trading him would create $7.8 million in space with a manageable $2.3 million in dead money.
The Jaguars are currently $22.7 million over the cap and will need to restructure a few contracts and shed others to get out of the red. And Robertson-Harris, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and offensive lineman Tyler Shatley are among the players the Jags could be released to free up space.
Moving on from Roy Robertson-Harris is a tough decision for the Jaguars
Make no mistake, Roberston-Harris is seen as a potential trade/release candidate because of the way his contract is structured not because his play left something to be desired. He was a key contributor for the Jaguars last season and one of their top defensive linemen, making 17 starts and registering three sacks, 45 total tackles, 13 pressures, and seven tackles for a loss.
Before releasing Robertson-Harris, the team’s brass will probably try to explore every other alternative. They will first attempt to rework his deal and push some of his cap hit into the future. If that’s not possible, they could then look for a potential trade partner. After all, it makes more sense to ship him to another team and get something in return — even if it’s a late-round pick– instead of outright releasing him and getting nothing.
The downside of trading or releasing Robertson-Harris is that Jacksonville doesn’t currently have someone on the roster who can step up in his place. If they part ways with him, defensive line would then become an offseason priority. As it is, the Jags could lose defensive end Arden Key in free agency, and moving on from Robertson-Harris would leave their defensive front depleted.
Cutting ties with Roy Robertson-Harris seems like a necessary evil. Even though the Jaguars might have no other choice, the potential disadvantages are too hard to overlook, so they must assess the pros and cons before they come up with a resolution.