Jaguars get a dubious distinction for signing Gabe Davis in free agency

• The Jaguars got a poor review for signing Gabe Davis in free agency.

Nov 26, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis (13) catches
Nov 26, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis (13) catches / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars lost Calvin Ridley in free agency, so they'll need to fill the void left by his departure. On the bright side, the front office signed Gabe Davis, who isn't a replacement for Ridley but gives the offense someone who can stretch the field. All things considered, landing Davis was a solid move for the Jags but Connor Livesay of the 33rd Team isn't overly impressed.

Livesay recently wrote about what he thinks were the worst nine moves in free agency and the Jaguars signing Davis made the cut. He points out that the fifth-year wide receiver is coming off an underwhelming season while arguing that he had a limited role for the Buffalo Bills last year.

"Davis had a down season in Buffalo, ranking 128th in open score, 110th in catch score, 47th in YAC score and 113th overall score, according to ESPN receiver tracking metrics. Davis was somewhat of a one-trick pony in Buffalo. Now he will be asked to replace Ridley’s production without a receiver of Stefon Diggs' caliber or a tight end of Dalton Kincaid's caliber alongside him. "

Livesay isn't wrong when he says Davis' production doesn't pop off the stat sheet but he's focusing on the negatives without taking a look at what he brings to the table. A fourth-round pick by the Bills in 2020, the Jacksonville native wasn't a No. 1 receiver but rather a deep threat that rolled coverage away from his teammates and left them with more favorable matchups.

With the Jaguars, Davis will have a similar role. He won't be tasked with replacing Calvin Ridley. Instead, he'll give the offense a deep threat and open things in the middle of the field. The worst thing the coaching staff could do is to ask him to do things he can't do. Helping his adjustment is that wide receivers coach Chad Hall, his position coach in Buffalo, knows firsthand how to get the most out of his skill set.

On a related note, the Jaguars popped up another time on Livesay's list. In fact, he thinks general manager Trent Baalke was responsible for two of the worst blunders in free agency. The other was not doing enough to retain Calvin Ridley. Fellow The 33rd Team writer Jeff Diamond wasn't as harsh on the Jags for the Gabe Davis signing, though, and gave them a C+.

The Jaguars are paying Gabe Davis for future production, not past performances

Davis has never had more than 600 yards in a season, so it looked like the Jaguars overpaid him when they gave him a three-year contract worth $39 million in free agency. However, a closer look shows the team's brass made a projection based his ability to stretch the field.

Throughout his career, Davis has averaged 16.7 yards per reception. Back in 2022, he reeled in 48 catches for 836 yards with eight touchdowns. His stat sheet last year wasn't much different. The Jags will get plenty of bang for the buck if he can get around 55-60 receptions next season while maintaining his yard-per-catch average.

Keep in mind that this isn't the first time Jacksonville has seemingly overpaid for a wide receiver. Trent Baalke got plenty of flak in 2022 for giving Christian Kirk and Zay Jones top market deals but the criticism decreased once they became integral pieces on the offense. Something similar could happen with Davis. It's not a given that they will but if history is an indication, it may be too premature to pan his signing.

The Jacksonville Jaguars still need to find a replacement for Calvin Ridley but they should be able to do that in the draft. For the time being, they should be thrilled about the arrival of Gabe Davis and his potential role in 2024.

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