Jaguars making a push to sign Josh Allen to long-term deal before free agency

• The Jaguars are trying to get Josh Allen extended before the start of free agency.

Dec 31, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) celebrates
Dec 31, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) celebrates / Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars could use the franchise tag to keep outside linebacker Josh Allen from leaving in free agency. But they're also making a strong push to give him a long-term deal before free agency starts. General manager Trent Baalke confirmed as much when he met with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Baalke said he's meeting with Allen's representative at the combine, "Working. That's an ongoing discussion we're having with his agent. In fact, later today, I'm going to have another meeting with him as well. Ongoing," Baalke told reporters during his media availability session.

Allen, a first-round pick in 2019, is coming off a career season. After posting a combined 17.0 sacks from 2020-2022, he totaled 17.5 in 2023. On top of that, the former Kentucky Wildcat ranked in the top 10 of most meaningful categories in the NFL among pass rushers.

The Jags could've gotten a deal done last year but instead let Allen play out his rookie contract with the expectation that he was going to have a breakout season. He did, and he now wants to get a long-term deal. However, the team's brass hadn't started negotiations by late January, something the star pass rusher didn't take kindly.

Later in his exchange with the media, Baalke says that beyond extending Allen, the team is trying to bolster the pass rush but he feels good about the progress Travon Walker made last year.

"Second year, just scratching the surface, with the way he works, and we compete, I think his ceiling is very, very high. And what we thought it was when we drafted him obviously with the first pick in the draft," Baalke said.

The Jaguars should get a deal done with Josh Allen before free agency starts

For starters, it's great to see the Jacksonville Jaguars take a more proactive stance when it comes to getting a deal done with Allen. Following the end of the 2023 season, it felt like they — Trent Baalke in particular — weren't working with a sense of urgency. With a bit over two weeks to get something done, the Jaguars would benefit from striking a long-term deal with Allen before free agency starts.

By giving Allen an extension, Jacksonville could then use the franchise tag on wide receiver Calvin Ridley. As part of the trade they made with the Atlanta Falcons, they'll need to give them their second-round pick this year if they extend Ridley before free agency begins, but it would be only a third if he walks or if he gets the tag.

Baalke says that he doesn't mind giving up a second-rounder if that's what it takes to keep Ridley but the Jags could use that selection to address other position needs. Moreover, getting Allen under contract would allow them to tag Ridley. Not only would they keep their second-rounder if they take that route but they would prevent other teams from courting Ridley in the open market.

However you look at it, the benefits of signing Josh Allen to a long-term deal outweigh any potential drawbacks. Once the Jacksonville Jaguars check off that box, they can work on making upgrades to the roster in free agency.

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