The Jacksonville Jaguars were interested in trading for defensive end Danielle Hunter last year but ultimately refrained from making a deal. It seems like they'll revisit the possibility of acquiring the two-time Pro Bowl nod this offseason, based on a recent report. But before the Jags begin thinking about making a run for Hunter, they must secure Josh Allen long-term.
Jacksonville is one of a handful teams showing interest in Hunter, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. Fowler says he has a hard time seeing the star pass rusher remaining with the Minnesota Vikings, noting that he'll have a "very strong market" in free agency.
Hunter missed offseason practice last year looking for a pay bump. It was then that the Jags thought about potentially trading for him. He would end up showing up and getting a one-year deal that included a raise. The LSU Tiger went on to post a career-best 16.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Given that he's routinely produced since the Vikes made him a third-round pick in 2015, he should have several suitors lined up if he hits the open market.
In Jacksonville, Hunter would join a rotation that includes Josh Allen and Travon Walker. The duo logged a combined 27.5 sacks between the two. However, the rest of defense logged just 12.5, so the Jaguars may want to bolster their pass rush, and Hunter may be one of the best options available in free agency.
The only thing the Jaguars must take into account if they pursue Hunter is that they'll have to fork out top-market cash for his services. The one-year deal he inked to return to Minnesota last year was worth $20 million. Coming off a banner season, he'll most likely demand even better compensation.
The Jaguars need to take care of Josh Allen before they make other moves
As much of an impact as Danielle Hunter would have in Jacksonville, the Jaguars must first secure Josh Allen long-term. They wanted him to play his rookie contract out before they considered giving him an extension. He did and became the player they expected when they drafted him seventh overall in 2019. Now, they have to have to pay him.
Using the franchise tag would ensure the Jaguars have more time to get a deal done. However, they wouldn't have needed it if they had already engaged in contract talks, something they hadn't done by the end of January. But even if they're just beginning now, it shouldn't take that long to strike an extension if both parties want to make it happen. The baseline should be the $107.5 million deal Green Bay Packers pass rusher Rashan Gary signed during the 2023 season.
Allen is as good if not better than Gary, so he should have no trouble getting a similar deal. By prioritizing Allen's extension, the Jaguars' brass would show they do take care of their own players. Also, they could then turn their attention to addressing other needs. Heck, they could even add another pass rusher, maybe someone like Danielle Hunter.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have their work cut out this offseason. Extending Josh Allen should supersede all other items on their to-do list. Until they do, questions about their inability to secure one of their top players will keep surfacing.