5 targets Jaguars should pursue when free agency opens
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A simple Google search will reveal the top 100 free agents available in 2017. On March 7, teams can begin contract discussions with unrestricted free agents. Those deals won’t be formalized until after 4 p.m. on March 9 when the new league year officially begins.
Salary cap space won’t be an issue for the Jaguars. Only the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have more money to spend.
“I think we have to be disciplined," Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said regarding how the team will attack free agency.
Let’s take a look at five players the Jaguars could/should be targeting:
DE Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals
At 6-foot-8, 300 pounds Campbell has the physical tools and skills to overpower offensive linemen. The Jaguars would like to add a couple of pass rushers to join Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr., and Yannick Ngakoue. Last season Campbell had eight sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and six passes defended. He’s a player the Jaguars could deploy at multiple positions along the defensive line.
OG Kevin Zeitler, Cincinnati Bengals
When the impending trade for Branden Albert becomes official on March 9, the Jaguars will be set at offensive tackle with Albert on the left side and Jeremey Parnell on the right. Last season, there was a revolving door at left guard and A.J. Cann was inconsistent at right guard. Zeitler will turn 27 on March 8 and started all 16 games for Cincinnati each of the past two seasons. How much will Zeitler cost? He will likely join this list as one of the five highest paid offensive guards in the NFL.
CB Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo Bills
Several articles rate the Houston Texans' A.J. Bouye as the top available cornerback. Although Bouye would be a great addition opposite Jalen Ramsey, Gilmore might be a better fit. He’s been more consistent over the course of his career, compared to Bouye who became a starter for the first time in 2016. Gilmore also picked off five passes in 2016, which is two more than the Jaguars' entire secondary produced last season.
TE Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots
After winning the Super Bowl, Bennett made it clear that he wants to get paid. Two years ago, the Jaguars signed Julius Thomas to a large contract (5 years, $46 million). Bennett will turn 30 on March 10 but would be a great fit for the Jaguars offense. At 6-6, 275 pounds, Bennett is a receiving threat over the middle of the field, but is also a good blocker in the run game. Tom Coughlin also coached Bennett during the 2012 season when he was with the New York Giants.
S Micah Hyde, Green Bay Packers
Flying under the radar ever so slightly is Packers safety Micah Hyde. He has experience at both safety positions and cornerback. Hyde is still only 26 years old and finished the 2016 season with 56 tackles, one sack, nine passes defended and three interceptions. That type of versatility would be a good addition to the Jaguars' secondary.
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