The Jacksonville Jaguars just hired Ryan Nielsen as their defensive coordinator. They now need to make sure that their best player on that side of the ball is taken care of. Outside linebackerJosh Allen is coming off a breakout season and is set to hit the open market in March. While he could get the franchise tag, the Jags are better off giving him a long-term deal, an idea former NFL executive Marc Ross agrees with.
Ross recently put together a list of players he believes have earned an extension and included Allen, arguing that he should be a key piece in Nielsen's scheme.
"In 2023 (the final year of his rookie contract), Allen exploded, showing why he was a top-10 draft pick. Hisimpressive 17.5 sacksset a Jaguars single-season franchise record and tied him for second-most in the league. His breakout campaign should lead to a big second contract, either from the Jags or another pass rush-needy team. I'd like to think Allen is a piece that new Jags defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen would want to build around."
Allen, a first-round pick in 2019, registered 10.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. However, a knee injury limited him to eight games and 2.5 sacks the following season. He had a few dominant outings in 2021, but he also disappeared at times. Then again, most players underperformed during the Urban Meyer debacle, so he kind of gets a pass.
The former Kentucky Wildcat was more consistent in 2022 but he wasn't nearly as good as he coul've been, leaving several plays on the field. He acknowledged as much last offseason, and he vowed to get much better. He did, and then some. His 17.5 sacks last year set a new franchise record. On top of that, he routinely made huge plays, including his interception in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
In five seasons, Allen has 45 sacks, two interceptions and nine forced fumbles. He was among the top 10 among pass rushers in most meaningful categories last season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars must take care of Josh Allen ASAP
The Jaguars used the fifth-year option on Josh Allen's contract because they wanted to make sure he could deliver in 2023. He did, and he deserves a long-term deal. Last year, fellow edge rushers Rashad Gary and Montez Sweat got new deals, and they could be as a baseline in negotiations. Gary, who was also drafted in 2019, got a four-year contract worth $107 million with $36 million guaranteed. It wouldn't be shocking if Allen demanded similar compensation.
And that's the thing, getting a deal done should be straightforward. Allen lived up to his side of the bargain. Now, the Jags must reward him. Otherwise, they run the risk of alienating their best defensive player. By striking a deal soon, they'll ensure the Virginia native will partake in all offseason activities, which is of utter importance when you take into account that Ryan Nielsen will be installing a new scheme.
The team's brass could very well use the franchise tag to buy more time, but if they manage to extend Allen before free agency, they could then use it on wide receiver Calvin Ridley if they aren't ready to commit to him long-term but still want to keep him around.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off a disappointing end to 2023, and have their work cut out if they want to return to the playoffs and compete for the AFC South. Getting Josh Allen under contract should most definitely boost their chances.