Jacksonville Jaguars sparing no expenses to give Trevor Lawrence top weapons
The Jacksonville Jaguars raised eyebrows last year when they gave Christian Kirk and Zay Jones top-market contracts in free agency. However, talking heads stopped doubting the decision after Jones and Kirk posted career numbers in 2022. With Calvin Ridley rounding out the group, the Jags are set to have the fourth most expensive receiving room next season but it's hard to disagree with the
Analyst Warren Sharp recently ranked every NFL team by the amount of cap space they've allocated to their receiving corps and the Jags landed at No. 4 with $41.3 million. The Arizona Cardinals got the top spot with $54.5 million, the Denver Broncos ranked second with $43.7 million and the Las Vegas Raiders popped up at No. 3 with $43.4 million.
The difference between the Jags and those teams -- with the exception of the Raiders -- is that the production they're getting from their wide receiver room is proportional to the money they're spending. Despite the money they devoted to the position, no Cardinal receiver registered over 800 yards last year. Maybe DeAndre Hopkins can bounce back in 2023 but he doesn't seem to be the player he was when he earned three consecutive First-Team All-Pro designations, with the most recent one coming in 2019.
Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy had a combined 1,801 yards for the Broncos in 2022 but neither receiver crossed the 1,000-yard mark. The only club in the top 5 that is also getting a good return (and maybe even better) on their investment is the Raiders, who have one of the best receivers in the league in Davante Adams and a highly productive slot in Hunter Renfrow. Here's Sapp's breakdown of each team's spending:
The Jacksonville Jaguars are spending a premium on the WR corps
The Jaguars weren't as aggressive in this year's free agency as they were in 2022 but that's because they had already made several splash signings and had allocated a good chunk of cap room to both Jones and Kirk. On top of that, they're on the hook for Ridley's $11.1 million salary in 2023.
The upside of spending so much money at wide receiver is that Trevor Lawrence has enough weapons at his disposal to put points on the scoreboard. On the other hand, the allocation of a considerable amount of cap space to one position means that the team's brass won't always have money to invest in other units.
For example, Jacksonville couldn't keep right tackle Jawaan Taylor and defensive end Arden Key in free agency because they had given long-term contracts to other players. Similarly, there's a chance the Jags will move on from left tackle Cam Robinson next year because releasing him would free up $17.7 million in space. They can afford to do it because they drafted Anton Harrison in Round 1.
The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars knew they needed to surround Trevor Lawrence with better weapons if they wanted him to succeed after an underwhelming rookie season. Having Jones, Kirk, and soon Ridley on the roster has paid off, so it's fair to say that the Jags don't mind having the fourth-most expensive room in the NFL.