Jaguars lag behind their AFC South foes in one crucial area ahead of free agency

• The Jaguars are last in the division heading into free agency when it comes to cap space.

Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke talks to media during a pre-draft luncheon on Thursday, April
Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke talks to media during a pre-draft luncheon on Thursday, April / Juston Lewis/Florida Times-Union / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars have their work cut out if they to make a run for the AFC South in 2024. While they have a handful of building blocks in place, they also have to address several needs in the offseason. The trouble is that the Jags currently have around $11 million in cap space, putting them in an unfavorable position to acquire playmakers in free agency. In fact, they're at a severe disadvantage compared to the rest of the division when it comes to cap room.

Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report recently drew up a list of things that could change the landscape of the offseason and brought up the AFC Souths' overall abundance of cap space. He points out that the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Tenessee Titans are among the top 10 NFL teams in terms of cap space. This leads Gagnon to believe that the young and upcoming division will make some serious splashes in free agency.

The Titans are second in the league with $73 million in space, per Spotrac, while Indianapolis and Houston rank fifth and sixth with $66 million and $65 million, respectively. When you add that they'll have more than enough space to re-sign their pending free agents, all of them could improve considerably in the offseason.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars rank 19th in space in the league, and that's without accounting for outside linebacker and wide receiver Calvin Ridley, their top two pending free agents. Re-signing both of them will be key if Jacksonville wants to have a shot at challenging the Texans for the division crown.

The Jaguars can fix their cap situation and be active in free agency

While the Jaguars face a less-than-ideal cap situation, they can create space by making a few moves. The biggest one may be placing left tackle Cam Robinson on the trade block. Although the offensive line performed much better when he was in the lineup last year, he's set to count $21.1 million against the cap in 2024. By trading him, not only would the team's brass free up $17.2 million in cap space but they could also acquire a draft pick.

The Jags could also release right tackle Brandon Scherff for an extra $9 million in space. Wide receiver Zay Jones, linebacker Foyesade Oluokun, and defensive tackle Foyesade Oluokun could also be cap casualties. That said, it wouldn't be shocking if the front office brings back a couple of them with rework deals that decrease their cap hit in 2024. Something similar could happen with cornerback Darious Williams, who's set to make $11.5 million next season.

The Jaguars could create $10.5 million if they move on from Williams but giving him an extension and reducing his cap hit may be the best course of action when you take into account how well he played last year. The point is that Jacksonville can create enough space to sign Josh Allen and Calvin Ridley with room to spare to make a couple acquisitions in free agency.

While teams should build through the draft, they cannot refrain from making upgrades to the roster in free agency. This will be especially true for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2024 if they want to re-claim the AFC South.

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