The biggest swing the Jacksonville Jaguars could take at center in 2024

• Signing Lloyd Cushenberry would help the Jaguars take care of one of their biggest needs in free agency.

Oct 12, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Denver Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry (79) lines up
Oct 12, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Denver Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry (79) lines up / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars are starting to make moves ahead of free agency. Besides re-signing safety Daniel Thomas, they also brought back left guard Ezra Cleveland, ensuring there's continuity up front in 2024. Next, the Jags must take care of the center position. Working in their favor is that they will have no shortage of options in the open market. That said, they should spare no expenses to go after Lloyd Cushenberry III if they want to get the best of the bunch.

The Jaguars could wait until the draft to bolster the center position but free agency will also offer plenty of options. Mitch Morse just became available after getting released by the Buffalo Bills. Similarly, Brandon Allen hit the open market when the Los Angeles Rams cut him in late February. They'll join a group that includes Cushenberry, Andre James, Aaron Brewer, Tyler Biadasz, and Connor Williams.

That's certainly a long list, so why should Jacksonville make a run for Cushenberry and not the other options? It's not that complicated. He was one of the top 10 centers in the NFL last year, giving up just 14 total pressures and one sack. Moreover, he posted a 76.4 Pro Football Focus grade as a run blocker, an area where the Jaguars could use plenty of help.

While Cushenberry missed nine games with a groin injury in 2022, he played all 17 games last year, so his health should not be an issue. Biadasz would be another solid option, but he's as good in pass protection. Williams, on the other hand, would've been the No. 1 center if he hadn't suffered an ACL injury last year but he's currently recovering and may wait to sign with a team.

James is also an above-average starter but Cushenberry is better. Brewer, for his part, provides an alternative in case the Jaguars draft a young center prospect. Signing him would be mostly a depth move.

LLoyd Cushenberry would be a huge upgrade at center for the Jaguars

Center is without a doubt the Jaguars' biggest need ahead of free agency. Last year, they couldn't run the ball inside because they routinely got manhandled at the line of scrimmage. By the second half of the season, they had given up trying to run inside. Similarly, Trevor Lawrence was pressured at a concerning rate, and most of the heat came on the interior offensive line.

Luke Fortner was the biggest culprit behind the Jags' subpar blocking. General manager Trent Baalke went to bat for him, noting that he has the tools to play well in the NFL. Maybe he'll hit his stride down the road, but right now, he's a liability and the Jaguars must bolster the center position if they want to dominate the trenches next season. Lloyd Cushenberry would most definitely be the best option available in the market.

Granted, it won't come cheap but Cushenberry has the kind of track record that should make the Jacksonville Jaguars feel good about paying a premium for him. Heck, their willingness to give Ezra Cleveland a top-market contract shows that they're not afraid to spend to fortify the offensive line. And if they're serious about making sure Trevor Lawrence is in a position to succeed, they should make an aggressive effort to land Cushenberry.

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