Even as the Jacksonville Jaguars continue to address their salary cap situation, with all of the recent contract restructuring, there is still one big question looming in the building, what should the Jags do with 25-year-old right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who is set to become a free agent? If you ask me, they should look to move on from the young tackle.
Taylor comes into the offseason ranked as one of the offseason’s top free agents. With this comes a hefty price tag. Pro Football Focus predicts Taylor will command $16 million per year on the open market, and the Jaguars have other priorities currently waiting in the locker room. Tight end Evan Engram is at the top of the list.
The offense soared to new heights this year as Trevor Lawrence began to blossom, and Engram had a huge part in that. We also cannot forget the cap hit that suspended wide receiver Calvin Ridley will assume once reinstated. Trent Baalke hasn’t, and he mentioned that at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, via John Shipley of Sports Illustrated:
"We’ve already planned for that. We understand that at some point, he’s going to be reinstated. Those dollars are dollars we’re not spending. Those are dollars that we have in the bank to make sure that when he is reinstated, it’s accounted for."
The Jaguars also have holes to fill on defense, particularly along the interior of the defensive line and at the nickel corner position. Players with similar salary projections, such as Javon Hargrave and Jamel Dean, could also land in the open market with similar salary projections, so the team’s brass might be better served to allocate the money they would spend on Taylor.
Having a 23-year-old tackle who’s currently under contract for two more years makes this decision a little easier. Walker Little. the 45th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is making a little under $2 million dollars annually, and when he played in relief of the injured Cam Robinson, he impressed.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are ‘ok’ with Jawaan Taylor becoming a free agent
Walker Little finished the regular season with his strongest pass-blocking effort per PFF’s grading, and he is two years younger than Taylor. To develop a young tackle, you need to play him. Having said that, Little won’t be the Jaguars’ only option.
Mia O’Brien of 1010 XL reported that if things do not work out between the two sides, Trent Baalke has no problem looking to the draft for depth. As a matter of fact, draft analysts have been mocking multiple different offensive linemen to the Jaguars at No. 24, including one another from the University of Florida: O’Cyrus Torrence.
All signs point to a departure for Taylor, but the organization has preached continuity from the start. I don’t think they can continue the theme here.