Jaguars OG Ezra Cleveland's contract better than originally thought

• The Jaguars re-signed Ezra Cleveland and they did it at a reasonable amount.

Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

Nobody batted an eye when the Jacksonville Jaguars re-signed offensive guard Ezra Cleveland. After all, they traded for him last year, and they surely wanted to keep him for more than eight games. What was a bit surprising is that they seemingly paid a premium to bring him back. However, a closer look shows that his contract is much better than originally thought.

Originally, it was reported that Cleveland had signed a three-year deal worth $28.5 million but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk revealed the deal's true value. It pays him an average of $8 million per year with $14.5 million guaranteed at signing. If you're keeping tabs, that's $4.5 million fewer than the first reported figure. Those extra $4.5 million can be earned through playing time and playoff berths the next three seasons.

Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus reacted to the true value, pointing out that he projected Cleveland would get an annual average of $8 million ahead of free agency. His prediction ultimately came to fruition.

Over the Cap also updated the Jaguars' cap figure to reflect Cleveland's new deal. The way the contract is structured, he has a reasonable cap hit of $3.5 million next season, $5.2 million in 2025, and $9.95 million the following year. He's got a $7 million bonus when he signed, and some of it was spread up until 2028. Hence the low cap figure for the duration of the contract.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are keeping the O-Line together for 2024

By re-signing Ezra Cleveland, and restructuring Brandon Scherff's deal, the Jaguars are showing they think last year's group was good enough. Rather than making changes to the personnel, they'll adjust their approach to coaching. Following the end of the 2023 season, head coach Doug Pederson told the media that they sometimes waited to fix mistakes until meetings or the following day instead of doing it right away.

Maybe the Jaguars are onto something. Their offensive line didn't necessarily lack talent in 2023. More than anything, like most of the team, they underperformed last year, and if they can put it all together, they should play up to their talent.

That said, there could still be a couple changes coming to the offensive trenches. Incumbent center Luke Fortner could still be replaced. While general manager Trent Baalke praised him after the season ended, there's no doubt he was the weakest link up front last year. Making an upgrade at center could vastly improve the offensive line's overall performance.

Similarly, there's still a chance the Jags could deal left tackle Cam Robinson. Although they've made it clear they expect him to return in 2024, the prospect of releasing (or trading) him to create $17.2 million in cap space may be too good to pass up. The fact that they have a pair of in-house replacements in Walker Little and Anton Harrison may ultimately convince the team's brass to pull the trigger.

The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars don't think a whole revamp across the offensive line was necessary. Instead, they believe they just need adjustments, and if they're right, Trevor Lawrence should get much better protection next year.

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