The Jacksonville Jaguars should prioritize giving outside linebacker Josh Allen a long-term deal in the offseason. Once they check off that box, they should turn their attention to bolstering their pass rush. One player they should keep an eye on is Khalil Mack, who is still going strong at the ripe age of 32 (maybe 33 by the time you're reading this).
Mack was one of the Los Angeles Chargers' top players last year but they're facing a cap crunch. This could lead them to either trade or release the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year. He's coming off one of his best seasons in a while, registering 17 sacks and five forced fumbles. He's set to have a monster cap hit of $38.5 million in 2024 but the Bolts could free up $23.25 million in space if they move on from him.
Having posted double-digit sacks for the first time since 2018, Mack could have a robust market. Dan Pompei of The Athletic believes a fifth-round pick could get a deal done given that whoever lands him will have to take on his salary for 2024. Having said that, it's not a given Los Angeles will find a trade partner, so there's also a chance he'll be a cap casualty. Either way, the Jaguars should monitor his situation closely.
Mack, the fifth-overall pick in the 2014 draft, began his NFL career with the Las Vegas (then-Oakland) Raiders. He was traded to the Chicago Bears in 2018 and later changed teams once again in 2022. While the Bears acquired the Buffalo product in exchange for two first-round selections, they only got sixth and second-round selections when they sent him to the Chargers.
Since 2014, Mack has appeared in 151 games with 150 starts and registered 101.5 sacks, 33 forced fumbles, and three interceptions.
Why it makes sense for the Jaguars to pursue Khalil Mack
The Jaguars have a dominant pass rush tandem in Josh Allen and Travon Walker but they need to round out their rotation. While Allen and Walker had a combined 27.5 sacks between the two last season, the rest of the defense logged just 12.5. K'Lavon Chaisson, their No. 3 pass rusher brought the quarterback down just twice. Dawuane Smoot also contributed with a sack.
Chaisson and Smoot are both set to hit the open market in 2024. It would be a good time to upgrade the pass rush even if DaVon Hamilton bounces back. Mack would be a huge addition even if the Jaguars had to take on his $23.5 million salary for 2024. One way to lessen the cap hit would be to give him an extension or add a void year to his deal (or both).
The team's brass could also fit him into the cap by giving Josh Allen an extension with a big signing bonus that pushes the biggest cap hits to the later years. Now, there may be other cheaper options in the open market but not many of them will be better than Mack.
Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars failed to adequately address the pass rush. They cannot afford to make the same mistake again. Imagine how much better Josh Allen and Travon Walker would've been if there had been a third edge rusher in the mix.