JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars have the cap space to be big spenders in free agency this year and have said they plan to be “aggressive.”
But every signing won’t come with a big price tag. In 2021, some of the most impactful players the Jaguars added flew under the radar. Guys like Jamal Agnew and Rudy Ford didn’t exactly spark celebration in the streets from fans during the offseason, but both made huge impacts.
It is those sorts of moves that can help to define a team. The tampering period began Monday at noon where players and agents can discuss signing with prospective teams. Official announcements can be made when the new league year opens Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Here are four free agents this year whose names you or may not know that could pay huge dividends for the Jaguars in 2022.
Alexander Johnson, LB, Broncos
Johnson had a long road to the NFL. When he finally got his shot at 26 years old he made the most of it. Johnson has been an impact defender for the Broncos since he walked in the door as an undrafted free agent.
He is on the wrong side of 30 and had a torn pec that sidelined him for most of last season but those things shouldn’t scare the Jaguars away from adding a dinosaur to their linebacker room. (He says he is the Dino because dinosaurs eat goats.)
With the new coaching staff in Denver, Johnson could look to continue his career elsewhere. Jacksonville would be a great landing spot for him.
Will Fuller, WR, Dolphins
Fuller is a name that Jaguars fans may remember from his time in the AFC South with the Houston Texans. He is a high-impact guy if he can stay healthy. That is a big IF. Fuller has had injury issues his entire career.
Last season, Fuller bet on himself and took a one-year contract with the Dolphins. There, he only played 65 snaps. The list of suitors for Fuller won’t be long but that also means the price tag won’t be high. It’s a low-risk gamble that is worth taking because when he’s healthy, Fuller is one of the best deep threats in the NFL, the type of deep threat that Trevor Lawrence would love to throw to.
Charles Harris, DE, Lions
Being a former first-round pick is not the type of guy that would normally be considered an under-the-radar signing but he had a slow start to his career. In his first three seasons in the NFL, Harris had just 3.5 sacks.
Since leaving Miami, he has seen an increase in that production. In 2020 with the Falcons, Harris got three sacks. In 2021 with the Lions, he was able to get that total up to 7.5. Detroit’s defense was decimated by injuries so Harris wasn’t benefited by the players around him.
His production has increased over the last two seasons and Harris just looks like a guy who has finally figured out his niche in the NFL. It is not out of the question for Harris, in the right situation, to get his sack numbers up to the double-digits. A trio of Josh Allen, Dawuane Smoot and Harris could be an impactful trio of pass rushers and the Jaguars would still have the option to add another in the draft with the No. 1 overall pick.
Mo Alie-Cox, TE, Colts
Last offseason the Jaguars brought in a guy who had never played tight end before he made it to the NFL. Not Tebow, I’m talking about Chris Manhertz. Manhertz was a college basketball player and had a similar path to NFL success as Alie-Cox, who played college ball at VCU.
The big difference is that Alie-Cox is a more accomplished receiver than Manhertz. Alie-Cox has operated as the second tight end for the Colts over the last few seasons and flashed the potential to be more than that. In 2021, he started seven games and caught 24 passes for 316 yards.
Not exactly gaudy numbers but not bad for a guy who has only been playing tight end for a few years. His arrow is pointing up and could easily be a guy who could outplay the contract he receives this offseason.