The Jacksonville Jaguars will be making additions to the roster in the 2023 NFL Draft. But they're also taking care of the player that helped them turn the corner last year. Earlier in the offseason, they brought back Roy Robertson-Harris, safety Andrew Wingard, and running back JaMyca Hasty. And one day before the draft, the Jags rewarded defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton got a multi-year extension.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Hamilton inked a three-year contract worth $34.5 million with $23 fully guaranteed and the chance to earn up to $36 million if certain incentives are reached. Not long after, the team announced the deal.
A third-round selection in 2020, the former Ohio State Buckeye joined the Jaguars' starting lineup in Week 6 of his rookie year. He showed flashes before a knee injury ended his season prematurely.
Hamilton bounced back and went on to appear in 16 games in 2021. He kept improving last year and went on to play 17 games with 14 starts and registering 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and 56 total tackles. On top of that, he posted a Pro Football Focus overall grade of 74.9, a career-best and was named one of the top 20 interior defenders in the league.
Here a few observations on Hamilton's new deal and a picture of him putting his signature on paper.
3. Jaguars DT DaVon Hamilton can now fully focus on playing
DaVon Hamilton won't get the kind of attention Trevor Lawrence or outside linebacker Josh Allen have, especially because he plays nose tackle, a position that doesn't rack up huge numbers. However, he performs a key job: Clogging up running lanes and taking on blocks so his teammates can make plays. Simply put, he needs to execute for the defense to succeed.
The Jaguars' brass recognizes Hamilton's value and instead of waiting, they signed him before the 2023, which was supposed to be the last of his rookie deal. By getting a deal done, Hamilton can fully focus on performing to the best of his capacities without having to worry about earning a contract.
Moreover, by striking a deal now, Hamilton shifted the injury risk to the Jaguars. If he hadn't signed an extension and had gotten injury next season, he might have needed to set for a one-year, prove-it deal in 2024.
2. The Jacksonville Jaguars are rewarding their own player
Free agency is an important tool NFL clubs use to address needs. However, they can't solely depend on it due to cap constraints, which makes the draft extremely important. Perennial playoff teams constantly replenish their roster in the draft.
The Jaguars didn't have a track record in the 2010s and their 2020 class wasn't particularly successful (more of that in a bit). Nevertheless, the current regime has done a good job of rewarding their own players. Last year, it was left tackle Cam Robinson. Now, it's players that won't have a big profile but are important to the team's success.
By giving Hamilton a new deal, the Jaguars are telling their players that if you come through for them, you will get paid.
1. DaVon Hamilton was a bright spot in the Jaguars' 2020 draft class
David Caldwell had a few hits during his eight-year stint as the Jaguars' general manager but his amount of misses was significantly higher. Back in 2020, he had two picks in Round 1, and instead of finding two building blocks, he selected a player that is no longer with the team (C.J. Henderson) and someone whose been a marginal contributor over the last three years (K'Lavon Chaisson).
To make matters worse, their second-round selection, wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., is no longer with the team after being traded to the Carolina Panthers last year. This makes DaVon Hamilton the best player of what's turned out to be a less-than-stellar class. Ben Bartch was the starting left guard last year but his future is in doubt after suffering a season-ending injury.
It's true that Chris Claybrooks (Round 7)) and Daniel Thomas (Round 5) have become core special team contributors but it's fair to say that you had a bad draft when two of your top 4 players are special team contributors. Nothing bad with that but the Jaguars weren't able to capitalize on three top 50 picks, which is why Caldwell is gone.
On the bright side, the Jags found Hamilton, who should be part of their defensive front for the foreseeable future.