The Jacksonville Jaguars didn't qualify for the postseason in 2023. To add insult to injury, they had to watch the Houston Texans beat the Cleveland Browns in Wild Card Weekend. If they want to avoid missing the playoffs again in 2024, they'll need to get to work in the offseason.
Last year, the Jags opted to take a conservative approach in free agency and chose to make any splash signings because they would use their cap for 2024. Now, it's time to put the money where their mouth is. Already, they have their work cut out for them, and these four decisions could turn out to have big implications in the regular season.
4. Moving on from RG Brandon Scherff
After watching Trevor Lawrence get pummeled behind the line of scrimmage in his rookie season, the Jags vowed to give him a better supporting cast and prioritize fortifying their offensive trenches. Among the moves they made in 2022 to accomplish the goal, they gave right guard Brandon Scherff a three-year $49.5 million contract.
While pricey, there were reasons to believe Scherff would solidify the right side of the offensive line next to Jawaan Taylor. A first-round pick in 2015, Scherff was a five-time Pro Bowl selection during his seven-year stint with the Washington Commanders. On the other hand, he came with questions about his durability, having last played a full season in 2016.
Then again, it wouldn't have mattered if the former Iowa Hawkeye had missed two or three games a year if he played at a Pro Bowl level. Unfortunately, that's not the way things have played out. Even though Scherff has managed to stay healthy and make 34 consecutive starts, he hasn't been nearly as dominant as he was in Washington. He hasn't been outright bad, but the Jaguars aren't paying a premium for his services just to be solid or average.
Granted, Scherff played better in 2023, giving up two sacks and 15 total pressures. Moreover, he posted a Pro Football Focus overall grade of 73.6. That said, the Jaguars need him to play even better to justify paying a premium for him.
The veteran guard is currently set to have a cap hit of $23.9 million in 2024 but Jacksonville could create $9.09 million in savings with a dead cap hit of $14.8 million if they release him. At 32, he could still have a few years left in him but there's an equal chance he could experience a decline. If the team's brass released him, they could acquire a cheaper and younger option in the open market.
But if the Jags think he'll build on last season, they could then look for a way to lessen his cap hit for 2024, whether it's a contract restructuring or a short extension.