Jaguars begin free agency with fewer needs than last year
Offensive signings could happen quickly
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – NFL free agency began Monday with the opening of the negotiating period known as the "legal tampering" period. The Jaguars and the other 31 teams can talk with free agents and their representatives Monday and Tuesday before beginning to sign new players starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The Jaguars added three key players to their defense last year when they signed defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church. This season, the focus is likely to be on the offensive side of the ball.
Among the positions the Jaguars will look to upgrade-offensive line, wide receiver and tight end-there are only a few premium players. The team must make choices with the salary cap in mind, knowing that some of the young, talented stars on the defense will be seeking contract extensions in coming years.
Among the potential offensive line targets for the Jaguars is Andrew Norwell, who is coming off his best year at guard for the Carolina Panthers and his first All-Pro selection. Pro Football Focus ranked him third among all guards. It would be a pricey proposition, probably in the same neighborhood as Kevin Zeitler’s contract last year. Zeitler signed a 5-year, $60 million free agent contract. Norwell played left guard for the Panthers, which would mean the relegation of Patrick Omameh, who is set to be a free agent, or it would force Omameh to compete with A.J. Cann at right guard, should Omameh be re-signed, although his experience has been at left guard.
Signing center Ryan Jensen of the Baltimore Ravens could increase competition at guard, if the team is willing to move Brandon Linder back to his former position. Jensen could be the answer. At 26, he is just coming into his prime years. He played on a one-year deal in 2017. After becoming a full-time starter for the first time in 2017, the former sixth-round pick is likely to command a salary of over $8 million per season.
Giants guard Justin Pugh can play guard or tackle, but was limited to eight games in 2017 because of a back injury. The injury did not require surgery, however. In his first two years in New York, he played right tackle for Tom Coughlin’s team, but was moved to left guard in camp in 2015. That didn’t last and he was moved back to left guard. He can be a flex player as a backup tackle, but his role would be as a left guard. Pugh played under his fifth-year option in 2017, and he likely wouldn’t be as expensive as Jensen. Still, he could add competition to the Jaguars offensive line.
One of the top wide receiver targets, Jarvis Landry, was tagged as a franchise player by the Dolphins, then traded to the Browns. Other wide receivers on the market include the Rams' Sammy Watkins, Seattle's Paul Richardson and the Bills Jordan Matthews.
The Jaguars may find more impactful players at tight end, where 31-year-old Jimmy Graham is the class of the group. He caught 10 touchdown passes in Seattle in 2017.The Bengals Tyler Eifter and the Eagles Trey Burton are also among the top players at the position.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jaguars may need to find a linebacker if they don't re-sign Paul Posluszny. In that case, the Eagles' Nigel Bradham, a Florida State product, would bring a Super Bowl ring to Jacksonville.
The other position the Jaguars may look to fill is nickle corner, where Aaron Colvin starred. Colvin could return, but he is set to test the open market.
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