Looking into Jacksonville Jaguars rookie extension candidates and what they might get

• The 2021 draft class has played a huge role in the Jaguars' success the past two years. They're now eligible for extensions. Here's a projection of what they could potentially get.

Former Clemson teammates Travis Etienne and Trevor Lawrence and now Jacksonville Jaguars teammates
Former Clemson teammates Travis Etienne and Trevor Lawrence and now Jacksonville Jaguars teammates / Bob Self via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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2. Running back Travis Etienne, 1st-round, 25th overall

Trevor Lawrence notwithstanding, there hasn't arguably been a more valuable player on the Jaguars offense than running back Travis Etienne the past two years, totaling 2,975 yards from scrimmage in that span. When you take into account that he missed his rookie campaign with a Lisfranc injury, his success looks even more impressive. Heck, the Jags plugged James Robinson into the starting lineup in 2022, but Etienne was so good that they couldn't justify keeping him on the sidelines.

Granted, Robinson had also suffered an injury of his own, a torn Achilles, but making Etienne the starter was the right call in retrospect. While Robinson hasn't been able to latch onto a team since being traded to the New York Jets in 2022, Etienne averaged 5.1 yards per carry that year. Unfortunately, he wasn't nearly as productive last season.

Make no mistake, Etienne was still running hard but he had nowhere to go due to the offensive line's inability to open holes. You know he was fighting for every yard he could get when you see that his 64 forced missed tackles ranked second in the league among running backs. It's fair to assume that he'll bounce back and post his 1,000-yard season if the Jaguars fix the offensive trenches.

However, it's unlikely that the Jaguars will give Etienne an extension in 2024. For starters, they can pick up the fifth-year option in his rookie deal, ensuring he stays under contract through 2025. But even if they didn't have the option, the team's brass could easily use the franchise tag or offer him a contract that pays him less than $10 million a year.

The truth is that salaries for running backs have been devalued in recent years and as good as Etienne has been the past two seasons, he won't probably buck the trend.

Projection: 5th-year option worth $5.9 M