The Jacksonville Jaguars have been quiet in this year's free agency and have mostly focused on re-signing their own players. This lack of moves is by design but that didn't stop Garrett Podell of CBS Sports from giving the Jags a poor grade.
Podell recently graded every NFL team's moves in free agency and Jacksonville got a C, acknowledging that the Jaguars had a "low-key offseason" after going on a spending spree last year. Podell does like the Jaguars' decision to re-sign defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris and wonders how much better Trevor Lawrence will be after showing significant growth in 2022.
"Naturally, they've had a much more low-key offseason, but retaining a quality starter in defensive tackle Roy Robertson-Harris (three years, $30 million) is good news. The biggest piece of the offseason for the Jaguars will be how much growth Trevor Lawrence has during the offseason as Jacksonville looks to build upon the divisional round playoff run they had in 2022."
So far, the Jags have re-signed Roy Robertson-Harris, backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back JaMycal Hasty, cornerback Tre Herndon, safety Andrew Wingard and cornerback Tevaughn Campbell. On top of that, they applied the franchise tag on tight end Evan Engram, who was arguably their most valuable player set to hit the open market.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had made the most of the 2023 NFL free agency period
It's hard to disagree with Podell on this one. You could make the case that the Jacksonville Jaguars could have taken a more aggressive approach and gone after players such as cornerback Cameron Sutton. Heck, they deserve some criticism for letting defensive end Arden Key and right tackle Jawaan Taylor walk.
Having said that, the Jaguars' brass deserves praise for looking at the big picture. Outside linebacker Josh Allen is entering a contract year and Trevor Lawrence will be eligible for a contract extension in 2024. Keeping both will require a significant amount of cap room, so it makes sense to take a methodical approach in free agency and not back themselves into a corner by spending more than they should. Similarly, Evan Engram and wide receiver Calvin Ridley are under contract for one more year, so the front office will also need to earmark space for the two of them.
Moreover, Jacksonville entered the offseason $20 million over the cap, so it was always going to be a challenge to make splash signings in free agency. Nevertheless, the front office still found a way to retain players that filled key roles (Wingard, Robertson-Harris) last season.
All things considered, the Jaguars have had a solid offseason. While it's hard to justify giving them an outstanding grade, they're in a position to return to the playoffs and win the AFC South for the second straight year. Key and Taylor notwithstanding, they've done a good job of keeping their own players. Now, they need to come out of the 2023 NFL Draft with a handful of playmakers. If they do, they should be one of the hottest teams ahead of the regular season.