5 contract decisions that will pay off for the Jaguars in 2023

The Jacksonville Jaguars took a conservative approach in free agency to avoid handicapping their ability to make big moves in future years. Yet, they still managed to make a handful of smart contract decisions. Here are the best five.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan talks with the team's first round draft pick Anton Harrison as they walk.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan talks with the team's first round draft pick Anton Harrison as they walk. / Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY
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No. 3 Jaguars decision that can pay off: Drafting Anton Harrison to start at RT

Jawaan Taylor is a prime example that some players need time to hit their stride. A second-round pick in 2019, Taylor made 66 consecutive starts for the Jaguars. That streak is impressive when you consider that injuries are an inherent part of sports and can happen at any time. But let's be honest, Taylor wasn't very good early in his NFL career.

Besides struggling in pass protections, he got flagged at an alarming rate. In his first three NFL seasons, he tallied 133 total pressures and 32 accepted penalties. That's simply too much and if Jacksonville rolled with him, it's because they had no one else to lean on. This is why Taylor had to compete with Walker Little in training camp last year to keep his job. He ended up prevailing and went on to have a career season.

The downside is that Taylor showing out in 2022 is that he priced himself out of Jacksonville. The Jaguars' brass made him an offer but knew they could lose him in free agency, which is precisely what ended up happening. The Florida native took a four-year, $80 million contract from the Jaguars, and needing to replace him, the Jaguars took Anton Harrison in Round 1 of the 2023 Draft.

Taylor was a proven commodity but one that commanded a top-market contract. Meanwhile, Harrison is slated to have a manageable cap hit of $2.399 next season. It's true that he'll have to make the adjustment to the NFL (and switch sides) but the Jaguars' brass believes he's up to the task. Otherwise, they wouldn't have drafted him, right?