2 Jaguars players pop up on early list of 2024 free agents (and that's a good thing)

• The Jaguars did a good job of retaining their own free agents in 2023

• They have a favorable chance of keeping their top two next year

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) hydrates Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023 at Miller Electric.
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) hydrates Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023 at Miller Electric. / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars have built a well-rounded roster over the last two years. However, keeping their core together next offseason could be a bit more challenging, with some of their most prominent players scheduled to hit the open market. Just recently, Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports included two of them in his early list of free agents for 2024.

Benjamin took a look at the top 10 players set to hit the open market next year and two Jaguars players made the cut, outside linebacker Josh Allen and wide receiver Calvin Ridley. The former is one of many passer rushers who could be available in 2024 that can line up in 3-4 or 4-3 schemes. The others are Brian Burns (Carolina Panthers), Montez Sweat (Washington Commanders), and Rashad Gary.

Given the demand for pass rushers, all of them could have a robust market and request an annual salary of at least $15 million if they hit the open market. In Allen's case, the Jags exercised the fifth-year option of his rookie contract last offseason but seemingly want him to play out his contract before committing to him long term. He's been Jacksonville's best pass rusher the last couple of years and is expected to have a huge impact next season.

On the other hand, Benjamin points out that the 2024 receiver class looks promising on paper. Alongside Ridley, Tyler Boyd, Gabriel Davis, Michael Pittman Jr., Mike Evans, and Tee Higgins are set to hit the open market. Of the bunch, Evan might be the one with the best track record but he's also the oldest. Boyd and Higgins are proving commodities while Pittman is a solid No. 2. It's worth noting that some of them will re-sign with their team, so the market might not look as enticing as it does right now.

Ridley. a first-round pick in the 2018 draft, is entering his first season with the Jaguars. He became a star early in his sting with the Atlanta Falcons. However, he decided to step away in 2021 to recover from the toll football had taken on him. During his retirement, the Alabama product was suspended indefinitely for betting on football games. He spent the 2022 season away from football but was reinstated in March.

Since joining the Jags, Ridley has put in the work to return to greatness. He's made a strong impression in training camp and seems poised to have a huge role on the Jaguars' offense in 2023.

Calvin Ridley and Josh Allen are core players for the Jaguars

The team's brass opted for a conservative approach this past offseason because they knew they were going to need lots of space to re-sign their own players next year. Having locked up tight end Evan Engram in June, the Jags now need to turn their attention to Calvin Ridley, and Josh Allen, their top two players slated to hit the open market next year.

Working in the Jaguars favor is that they have the cap room to keep both Ridley and Allen. It's true that Trevor Lawrence is eligible for a contract extension in 2024 but Jacksonville still have ample time to give him a long-term contract. For the time being, Ridley and Allen should be their priority.

Josh Allen and Calvin Ridley enter the 2023 season with high expectations and if they meet them (or exceed them, the Jags will gladly throw bags of cash at them. Also, they won't appear on Benjamin's list of free agents.

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