The Jacksonville Jaguars brought stability to the kicker position last year when they claimed Riley Patterson off waivers. Although Patterson was reliable and seemed poised to return in 2023, the Jags couldn't pass on the chance to sign Brandon McManus when he became available in May. Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports thinks this was the best decision they made this offseason.
Benjamin recently discussed every NFL team's best offseason move and believes signing McManus won't make huge waves but could ultimately help them win important games in a tough AFC South.
"Signing Brandon McManus isn't a franchise-altering move; it certainly doesn't carry the weight of their in-season acquisition of Calvin Ridley, the new WR1 for Trevor Lawrence. But the ex-Broncos mainstay is roughly one of the 50 most accurate kickers in NFL history, and his big leg could help decide important games in a close division. "
Before the Jaguars secured Patterson last year, they had a revolving door at kicker. After releasing Matthew Wright, they kicked the tires on Andrew Mevis, Ryan Santoso, and Elliot Fry. They then claimed James McCourt before the start of the 2022 season before settling on Patterson.
Even though Patterson had a rough stretch at the midpoint of the season, the coaching staff stuck with him. The former Memphis Tiger then went 16-of-17 in the last seven games and later nailed the field goal that put the Jags on top of the Los Angeles Chargers in Super Wild Card Weekend.
However, Patterson had limited leg strength which forced the Jaguars to go for it on fourth down more than they would've liked last season. This is why they jumped at the chance of signing McManus, who's got the range to consistently make field goals over 50 yards.
Signing Brandon McManus was no doubt the Jaguars best offseason move
There's no denying that locking up Brandon McManus was the Jags' move this offseason. But the truth is that they took a conservative approach in free agency, so there weren't many options to choose from. It's true that they brought back many core contributors but most of their signings were of the depth variety.
Players such as Henry Mondeaux, Michael Dogbe and Chandler Brewer all have upside and could turn out to be solid additions. However, they're all development projects at this point. If Jacksonville hadn't signed McManus, it's possible that running back D'Ernest Johnson would have been their best offseason pickup.
Johnson can special teams but will also challenge JaMycal Hasty for the No. 2 job behind Travis Etienne in 2023. Back with the Cleveland Browns, he showcased big-play ability in limited time. The fact that he's set to make a bit over $1 million next season also makes him a solid bargain addition.
Going back to McManus, the Jaguars are set to have one of the best offenses in the league, with Trevor Lawrence leading the way. So maybe they won't need their kicking unit often, but if they do, they now have a proven commodity in McManus.
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As Benjamin noted, kickers don't attract the kind of attention skill-position players get. But just like insurance coverage, you want to have the best in case you ever need it. The Jacksonville Jaguars have a pretty good one in McManus.