Depth at WR allows Jaguars to release Zay Jones after 2024 NFL Draft

• The Jaguars announced they're releasing WR Zay Jones and K Joey Slye.
Dec 18, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones (7) scores a
Dec 18, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones (7) scores a / Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars are freeing up a pair of roster spots to make room for their 2024 NFL Draft class. A few days after the 2024 NFL Draft, they released wide receiver Zay Jones and kicker Joey Slye.

The Jags announced both moves on social media. Zay Jones signed a three-year deal worth $24 million in 2022 and went on to set career bests in yards in a season and receptions in a season. However, injuries limited his impact last year. This, in conjunction with his salary for 2024, made him a candidate to be either traded or released. The arrival of Brian Thomas Jr., the team's first-round pick in 2024, probably sealed his faith in Jacksonville.

Slye, for his part, was signed in free agency to compete for the kicker job. He was the Jags' fallback option after Wil Lutz back down from an agreement he had with them. Drafting Cam Little made him expendable.

Jones was set to count $10.8 million against the cap next season but releasing him frees up $4.2 million with $6.6 million in space. On the other hand, Slye inked a one-year, $1.29 million deal with $25,000 guaranteed. Releasing both created around $5 million in space and the Jaguars now have around $34 million.

The Jaguars could've kept them both and had them compete for jobs in training camp. However, they were in need of roster spots for their incoming rookie class. It didn't hurt that they were able got get a bit of relief.

The Jaguars can afford to move on from Zay Jones

Releasing Joey Slye didn't move the needle. The Jaguars brought him in case they couldn't find any better options. They did when they drafted Cam Little. Jones, however, is a dependable receiver if healthy. Unfortunately, there was no longer room for him due to the additions of Brian Thomas Jr. and Gabe Davis.

Had the Jags not drafted Thomas 23rd overall, there's a chance Jones would've stayed. With Thomas in the fold though, he would've been WR4, and the team's brass weren't going to pay him starter money for a reserve role. Sure, injuries can strike at any time and teams must have adequate depth, but there are more affordable options than Jones out there.

Veteran Jarvis Landry will be attending rookie minicamp. If he's healthy, he would be a huge upgrade over Jones. But if Landry doesn't impress the Jaguars, they've also signed several undrafted free agents. Wayne Ruby and Brevin Easton, in particular, are a pair of players with intriguing upside. Worst-case scenario, Devin Duvernay, the team's top returner, gets playing time on offense.

Simply put, Jones is a talented player but the Jaguars could afford to move on from him. You could even argue he was kind of stuck in limbo: Not good enough to start in Jacksonville but too good to remain on the bench. That's why releasing him was the best course of action.

By moving on from Jones right now, the Jaguars can allocate his roster spot to one of the newcomers. Jones, if he's healthy, and it looks like he is, can latch onto a team. The truth is that the writing had been on the wall for a while. It was just a matter of time before the team's brass made the move.

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