Jaguars offense not overly expensive despite 'spending big in free agency'

• The Jaguars didn't spend as much in free agency as observers think.

NFL Combine
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The Jacksonville Jaguars have generally gotten praise for signing defensive end Arik Armstead in free agency. However, they've also had plenty of flak their way for not going after seemingly overspending on other players. While some of the criticism may be valid, one look at their salary cap shows that the Jags weren't nearly as reckless as some analysts believe they were.

Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report, for one, believes that Jacksonville isn't getting enough back for the buck, noting that they're paying Arik Armstead, Gabe Davis, and Darnell Savage top-market money despite the fact that they aren't game changes. In fact, the Davis signing has gotten several bad reviews.

David Kenyon of B/R doesn't think the former UCF Knight is an ideal replacement for Calvin Ridley while Connor Livesay of the 33rd Team went as far as saying that giving him a three-year deal worth $39 million was one of the nine worst moves in free agency.

Add the fact that the Jaguars gave left guard Ezra Cleveland what was seemingly a three-year deal worth $28.5 million and it's easy to see why there's a belief that Jacksonville overspent in free agency. However, one look at the amount of space Jacksonville is devoting to the offense in 2024 puts that narrative to rest. Per Warren Sharp, they rank 14th in spending in the NFL.

The Jaguars improved the offense in free agency without overspending

All the moves the Jaguars made in free agency don't look nearly as bad once you look at how much money they're spending. As a matter of fact, they should be commended for addressing several key needs without having to break the bank. Their offensive line, in particular, needed their attention and the front office made several moves to beef it up.

For starters, the Jags could've gone after big names but instead brought in veteran Mitch Morse on an affordable two-year deal worth $10.5 million to shore up the center spot. They also managed to keep right guard Brandon Scherff for 2024 while reducing his cap hit. They then added stability at left guard by bringing back Ezra Cleveland after trading for him last year.

At first, re-signing Cleveland didn't look great because it was originally reported he got a three-year, $28.5 million deal but in reality, it was worth $24 million. At $8 million per year, Cleveland doesn't even crack the top 25 among the highest-paid guards in the league.

It's worth noting that the Jags don't see Gabe Davis as a replacement for Calvin Ridley. They wanted Ridley to stay and if they had managed to re-sign him and land Davis, Zay Jones would have probably been a cap casualty. With Ridley crossing enemy lines, the front office will probably use an early-round pick in the draft to bolster the wide receiver corps.

The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars had a productive free-agency period. If they can come out of the draft with a handful of impact players, they'll become a legitime threat to dethrone the Houston Texans

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