Jaguars OLB Josh Allen among defensive players who deserve to be paid in 2024

• Josh Allen is coming off a career year

• He's set to become a free agent

• Paying him should be the Jaguars' top priority

Oct 2, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) before
Oct 2, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) before / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have enough talent on both sides of the ball to return to the playoffs in 2024 if they make the necessary upgrades. On defense, outside linebacker Josh Allen leads the way. Coming off a banner year, Allen is without a doubt a franchise building block. However, he's now set to become a free agent and the Jags haven't begun contract talks with him. Regardless of the reason, they should make giving him an extension their top priority. Jonathon Macri of Pro Football Focus agrees.

Macri included Allen on his list of defensive players who deserve to get paid, arguing that he's improved and has routinely ranked among the best pass rushers in the league even if his sack totals haven't always reflected it.

"The 2019 seventh-overall pick has consistently improved, even if the sack numbers haven’t always been there. That finally shifted in his favor with a massive 2023 season that yielded 17.5 sacks. Allen has steadily increased his overall grade each season, delivering an 89.5 mark in 2023 (11th) and an 89.4 pass-rush grade (eighth) to solidify himself as one of the best at his position."

Macri goes on to say that Allen will probably get the franchise tag but believes he's done more than enough to earn a long-term contract. ESPN NFL Nation echoes that sentiment, pointing out that he put up good enough numbers to warrant consideration for Defensive Player of the Year last year.

Other players who popped up on Macri's list are defensive tackle Chris Jones, cornerback L'Jarius Sneed, safety Antoine Winfield Jr., defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, and cornerback Jaylon Johnson. That's some pretty good company to be with.

Jaguars OLB Josh Allen deserves an extension, not the franchise tag

Allen, a first-round pick in 2019, had previously displayed elite talent but he wasn't always consistent. Granted, injuries and a dearth of talent around him prevented him from putting it all together. With Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell in the fold, he registered 10.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. However, he wasn't able to repeat either feat until 2023, when he and long-snapper Ross Matiscik were the first Jaguars players to get a Pro Bowl designation in three years.

Similarly, Allen shattered Calais Campbell's franchise record of 14.5 sacks and set the bar at 17.5 last season. Simply put, the former Kentucky Wildcat has done more than enough to get a contract extension, one that reflects his status as one of the top pass rushers in the league. However, general manager Trent Baalke doesn't seem to be in a hurry to get something done.

Baalke told the local media in his most recent press conference that Allen will be a Jaguar in 2024. However, he has yet to get in touch with his representatives. Allen wasn't thrilled that the general manager would talk about it publicly rather than reaching out to him and his camp. The star pass rusher understands the NFL is a business at the end of the day but has made it clear that he's open to negotiations, via Juston W. Lewis of The Florida Times-Union.

While there's still ample time to strike a deal, the Jaguars must tread carefully. The last thing they want is for one of their top players to become dissatisfied and the frustration to spread in the locker. Another reason to get an extension done is that they can structure his contract so it doesn't have a big cap hit early on, which would in turn allow the team to address other needs this offseason.

The bottomline is that there's no reason for the Jacksonville Jaguars to fork out the cash to ensure Josh Allen remains in place for years to come.

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