Jaguars failed attempt to sign Mike Evans has a silver lining

• The Jaguars were reportedly interested in going after Mike Evans

• Evans ended up re-signing with the Buccaneers

• There's a silver lining in their failed pursuit of the Pro Bowl WR

Oct 26, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) warms
Oct 26, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) warms / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars were reportedly interested in pursuing wide receiver Mike Evans in free agency. However, they had to scrape the plan when he re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the Jags will need to look somewhere else for help at wide receiver in case Calvin Ridley leaves, their desire to go after Evans shows that they're willing to spend big.

Dianna Russini of The Athletic reported that Jacksonville was among several clubs that were planning on landing Evans in the open market. However, he and the Bucs reached a two-year deal worth $56 million, effectively removing him from the pool of potential free agents.

Evans' contract demands aren't particularly surprising. He had told the Buccaneers' brass that he wanted to test free agency to see what he was worth. Instead of running the risk of losing him, they ended up paying him market value. Had he been available he would've gotten a similar or better deal from other clubs. So if the Jaguars were serious about signing him, they knew they weren't going to be able to lowball him.

The Jaguars should spare no expenses to re-sign Calvin Ridley

While Evans didn't ultimately make it to free agency, the Jaguars' failed attempt to sign him show that they were ready to spend big in free agency. With Evans off the market, they should be incentivized to re-sign Calvin Ridley.

From an outside perspective, it's hard to tell just how high Mike Evans was on the Jaguars' priority list. But if they were inclined to commit a considerable amount of cash to Evans, they should have no trouble investing as much in Calvin Ridley.

Now, Ridley isn't in the same echelon as Evans but he was their most productive wideout last year, hauling in 76 receptions for 1,016 yards with eight touchdowns. Already, it looks like Ridley is going to have a robust market if he becomes available, so they will need to take out the checkbook if they don't want to lose him in free agency.

The only potential hurdle preventing them from getting a deal done is that they agreed to give the Atlanta Falcons a second-round pick if they extend him. That's one of the terms of the trade they made to acquire him in 2022.

But if the Jags let him walk in free agency or keep him with the franchise tag, they will only owe Atlanta a third. The team's brass has a bit of time to decide what to do, but with Evans off the market, the best course of action is to spend big to retain Ridley.

The less popular alternative would be to let Ridley walk and use the money they were planning to use to re-sign him or ink Evan to address other position needs (e.g. offensive line, cornerback). Then, they can use their first or second-round pick to look for Ridley's potential replacement. This year's class is deep in talent so they'll have a wide array of choices. The downside of that strategy is that there's no guarantee they'll come out of the draft with a playmaker.

Looking at all possible scenarios, the Jaguars have no easy path to re-signing Calvin Ridley without spending considerable resources, whether it's cap space or draft capital. Then again, anything should be on the table if they were legitimately interested in pursuing Mike Evans.

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