General manager Trent Baake failed to deliver in 2023. Fair and simple. While there are many reasons the Jacksonville Jaguars didn't make the playoffs and paved the way for the Houston Texans to seize the AFC South, Baalke most certainly played a huge role. Instead of continuing to load up on talent to ensure the Jags stayed competitive, he took a conservative approach last offseason. Even though that's not a bad strategy in theory, it didn't work in practice.
Many of the players the Jaguars expected to improve ended up regressing, and without a safety net in place, the whole team took a step back. Having said that, the 2023 season is in the books and the Jaguars must get to work if they want to return to the postseason and challenge the Texans for the No. 1 place in the division. For his part, Baalke has to take care of these four things.
4. Pay OLB Josh Allen
The Jaguars wanted outside linebacker Josh Allen to play out his rookie contract because they wanted to make sure he was the playmaker they expected when they drafted him seventh overall in 2019. Allen lived up to his end of the bargain, setting up a new team record for sacks in a season with 17.5. Similarly, he was able at last to find the consistency that evaded him in previous years and was routinely the best Jacksonville defender on the football field. It's time the Jags call a Brinks truck full of cash.
Allen is set to become a free agent in March and the Jaguars could easily tag him to buy themselves more time to get a deal done. However, they should give an extension as soon as possible, and get it out of the way. By giving the 2023 Pro Bowl nod a new deal, they'll ensure he'll attend all offseason activities. This will be of utter importance when you take into account that recently hired defensive coordinator Ryan Neilsen will be installing his scheme.
Last year, Allen didn't attend organized team activities. While voluntary, the Jaguars would most definitely want their best defensive player to be around setting the tone in practice this time around. Another benefit of giving the former Kentucky Wildcat a new deal before free agency begins is that they could use the franchise tag on Calvin Ridley. Speaking of...