3. The Jaguars cannot watch free agency from the sidelines in 2024
Last year, the Jaguars opted not to make any big signings in free agency because they expected several players to improve. That isn't inherently a bad strategy, the trouble is that they didn't have a contingency plan in place when things didn't work out the way they expected.
For example, they didn't make any meaningful additions to the interior offensive line because the team's brass thought that a) Center Luke Fortner was going to improve and b) left guard Ben Bartch was going to be 100 percent healthy for the opener.
When Bartch showed he wasn't 100 percent and Fortner showed he was the weakest link up front, the Jaguars couldn't do much. They tried to plug in veteran Tyler Shatley at left guard but he wasn't particularly great, so they bumped offensive tackle Walker Little inside. Also, they had no adequate replacement for Fortner, so they just kept him in the starting lineup.
Something similar happened to the pass rush. The Jags could've added Danielle Hunter, Calais Campbell, or Jadevon Clowney but they didn't because they expected players such as K'Lavon Chaisson, and Yasir Abdullah to step up. Neither did and the only players who routinely brought the heat were Josh Allen and Travon Walker. Had the front office rounded out their rotation, their defense would've been much better.
It's true that kicker Brandon McManus and running back D'Ernest Johnson turned out to be solid additions, but the Jaguars shouldn't have stopped with them. They could've bolstered both their interior line and the pass rush. They didn't, and both issues remain unaddressed in 2024. If they want to challenge the Houston Texans next season, Trent Baalke will need to be aggressive in both free agency and the draft.