No. 1 free agent the Jacksonville Jaguars must pursue in 2024: Mike Evans, WR
Since becoming the general manager full-time in 2021, Trent Baalke has shown that he's not afraid to make splash moves. For instance, he signed wide receiver Zay Jones and Christian Kirk. But he wasn't yet pleased, so he traded for Calvin Ridley at the deadline. While Jones and Kirk have gone on to become integral pieces in the Jacksonville offense, the jury is still out in Ridley.
When the Jags acquired Ridley, he was serving a suspension for betting on football games. Having last played football in 2021, there were questions about his capablity to perform at a high level. Throughout the offseason, the Alabama product showed he was in great shape. However, he's been hit and miss in 2023.
Although Ridley has done a great job of rolling coverage away from his teammates, his on-field production leaves a bit to be desired. So far, he's only had two 100-yard games and he's on pace to finish the season with around 900 receving yards. That's not the kind of production, you want from a WR1.
Given that this is the last year of his rookie deal and the Jaguars will need to give the Atlanta Falcons a second-round pick if they sign him to a contract extension, they could opt to let him walk in free agency. If that's the course of action Trent Baalke and the front office chose, they could then pursue Mike Evan in the open market.
Evans requested an extension before the start of the season but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't give him one, and instead are letting his contract play out. Even though he's only 30, it feels like he's played forever and he'll have a robust market for his services if he hits the openr market.
A first-round pick in the 2014 draft, Evan's on pace to post the 11th 1,000-yard season of his career. In Jacksonville, he would fill the potential void left by Ridley and join another Texas A&M alumnus, Christian Kirk.