Protecting Trevor Lawrence among Jacksonville Jaguars top priorities the last 2 years
Trevor Lawrence has finally given the Jacksonville Jaguars the stability they craved for several years but couldn't find. Not surprisingly, protecting him has become one of the organization's top priorities. This has led to the trenches undergoing meaningful changes since the end of the 2021 season.
Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, and Jawaan Taylor were the Week 1 starters for the Jags in 2021. Of the five, only Robinson remains. He'll be serving a suspension for violations to the league's Performance Enhancing-Drug policy, so barring a successful appeal, he won't be suiting up for the opener.
While yearly turnover is expected in the NFL due to salary cap rules, it's telling that the Jaguars have chosen to consistently replenish their offensive line. Ben Bartch, a 2022 fourth-round pick was the starting left guard last season but dislocated his knee in Week 5 and was shut down for the year.
Bartch may not be ready for training camp but even if he is, his future in Jacksonville is uncertain as he's entering a contract year and the Jaguars might prioritize paying other players. While the former St. John Johnny's has progressively gotten better, the team's brass could look for a potential replacement in the draft, like they did when they chose center Luke Fortner in 2022 to fill the void left by Brandon Linder when he stepped away from the game.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are making smart investments on the offensive line
You probably want continuity up front but it's not feasible to pay a premium to every offensive line starter. That doesn't mean the Jaguars aren't willing to spend, they're just doing it smartly. Last year, they gave right guard Brandon Scherff a three-year $49.5 million deal. Similarly, Robinson got a $54 million contract for the same length.
The Jags could have tried to also give right tackle Jawaan Taylor a top-market contract but they opted to let him walk in free agency because they had Walker Little waiting in the wing. If Robinson weren't going to serve a suspension, Little would have most likely replaced Taylor. However, he'll switch back to left tackle, his natural position, while rookie Anton Harrison takes over the right side.
Speaking of Harrison, the Jaguars had many needs to address in the draft but they chose to take a potential core player on the offensive line, showing the urgency to keep Trevor Lawrence protected.
Of course, being good in the trenches is just one piece of the offensive puzzle. That's why the Jacksonville Jaguars have put together an intriguing running back room and talented wide receiver corps stacked with talent. Looking back, it's kind of impressive how much the Jags have changed over the last two years and one of their units that stands out the most is the offensive line.