Jaguars have trouble moving up in NFL Power Rankings despite fruitful free agency

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) gets off a pass ahead of Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) gets off a pass ahead of Jacksonville Jaguars / Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars came out of free agency with a promising haul and are in better shape than they were at the end of 2023. That said, it's fair to wonder if they did enough to bounce back next season. After all, the Jags aren't the only team that has improved in the past few months, which is why they have barely moved up in NFL Power Rankings.

Josh Schrock of NBC Sports placed Jacksonville at No. 14 in his ranking, noting that they're coming off an underwhelming season. On the bright side, Schrock thinks they could bounce back if Trevor Lawrence stays healthy.

Eric Edholm of NFL Media, for his part, is puzzled by the moves the Jags made in free agency, arguing that they overpaid for defensive end Arik Armstead. Moreover, Edholm thinks they were right for not going out of their way to keep Calvin Ridley, but says that giving Gabe Davis a three-year deal worth $13 million might not have been a sound investment.

"I'll be honest: I don't quite get what the Jaguars are doing. On the one hand, I liked the idea of adding Arik Armstead, which fills a pretty significant void inside on defense. But given that Armstead is receiving fairly big money, the move carries some risk. Armstead once was a horse who rarely missed time, but he's set to turn 31 this season, is coming off knee surgery, and was out for a combined 13 games the past two seasons.

Gabe Davis was another addition I wasn't wild about, although I think the Jags were smart not to match Tennessee's price on Calvin Ridley; that was just too much money for a player who didn't quite deliver as advertised last season. "

On the other hand, Edholm points out that he likes some of the smaller moves Jacksonville made — signing center Mitch Morse and safety Darnell Savage — but wonders if they did enough to improve.

For comparison, Edholm put the Houston Texans at No. 7 while the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans landed at 21 and 29, respectively. Schrock also gave the Texans the No. 7 spot, showing that they're currently the clearcut favorites to repeat as AFC South champions next season.

The Jaguars still have their work cut out to reclaim the AFC South in 2024

Edholm is in the minority when he says the Jaguars overpaid for Arik Armstead. Although he's 31, he hasn't shown signs of decline yet. Heck, he's remained productive the past two years despite the fact that he's been dealing with foot and knee injuries. The former Stanford Cardinal underwent meniscus surgery in the offseason and says rehab is going well. If he's at full strength in 2024, he'll give the Jacksonville defensive front a massive boost.

Add the fact that the Jags got Armstead on a $43.5 million deal (an annual average of $14.5 million) and his cap hit for 2024 will only be $4.46 million and his signing looks even better. Regarding the acquisition of Gabe Davis, some analysts are under the misconception that Jacksonville signed him to replace Calvin Ridley, but they expected to have both on their offense next season.

Ridley ultimately joined the Titans, and the Jaguars will need to find his replacement. This shouldn't have an impact on how the Jaguars plan to use Davis, though. It's true that he's never crossed the 700-yard mark in his career but the team's brass isn't paying for past production and are projecting his potential impact in Jacksonville. That approach worked when the front office signed Christian Kirk and Zay Jones in 2022 so Davis should at least get the benefit of the doubt.

Furthermore, Davis has averaged 16.7 yards per catch over the past four years. That is something to be excited about. He'll give Trevor Lawrence a deep threat that will draw coverage away from teammates and open things up on offense. Similarly, it will be tough for defenses to zero in on Davis with Kirk and tight end Evan Engram in the fold.

Simply put, signing Davis will make the offense better, even if he isn't a WR1. Will it be enough to propel the Jaguars to the top of the AFC South? Maybe, maybe not but they should feel good about their chances.

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