Jaguars free agency: Can’t-miss targets, positions of need and urgency to spend

Allen Robinson of the Chicago Bears carries the ball against Arthur Maulet of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half of their game at Heinz Field on November 08, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) (Emilee Chinn, 2021 Emilee Chinn)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – NFL free agency begins this week. Teams can begin negotiating in the legal tampering period Monday and announce signings one the new league year opens Wednesday at 4 p.m. The News4JAX sports staff looks at what the Jaguars need to do to address some of their concerns this week.

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In your perfect scenario, who is your can’t-miss free agent signing for the Jaguars?

Justin Barney: Receiver Allen Robinson. Jacksonville needs immense help at wideout and Robinson is the top free agent on the market. They’ll need to overpay to bring Robinson back to Jacksonville (the Jaguars took him in the second round in 2014), but it is imperative that they do. Nothing against Marvin Jones Jr., a free agent signing last year, but the next cut of free agent receivers are similar to Jones. He’s a solid No. 2 wideout, but the Jaguars lack a true No. 1. Even re-signing DJ Chark and drafting a receiver in the second round wouldn’t give Jacksonville a bona fide No. 1 pass catcher for Trevor Lawrence.

Cole Pepper: There isn’t a can’t miss player for the Jaguars. The players that could have filled that void were tagged or re-signed. It doesn’t make sense to tag Cam Robinson then try to sign Terron Armstead. J.C. Jackson is a good corner, but that’s not a glaring need for the Jaguars. Chandler Jones is on the back-end of his career, but he could help the pass rush. Brandon Scherff would be a nice signing, but he’s a guard. That’s not a can’t miss.  Allen Robinson would be an upgrade, but he’s not Davante Adams. Neither is Christian Kirk.

Jamal St. Cyr: When you say ‘can’t miss,’ I take it two ways; the player that they can’t afford to miss on and the player that will 100% make an impact for the Jaguars. Both interpretations have different answers for me. The player the Jaguars can’t afford to miss on is Allen Robinson.

The Jaguars need to build around Trevor Lawrence and Robinson is the best receiver on the market. While I think he is a player they can’t afford to miss out on because of the situation, I could see a scenario where he isn’t impactful for the Jaguars. On the other hand, the player I think would be a can’t-miss signing in terms of impact is Chandler Jones. Jones is an impact pass rusher and even if he slows down in the late stages of his career, his presence alone will allow Josh Allen to excel.

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What position or positions need the most help this week?

JB: Did you watch a game last year? Receiver. Receiver. Receiver. Then interior offensive line. Lawrence needs help and this would address two of those deficiencies. Jacksonville needs receiving help and it needs to fortify the line. Cam Robinson returning at left tackle and competition on the right side between Walker Little and Jawaan Taylor makes sense. If Andrew Norwell doesn’t return, that leaves a major hole at left guard. Strengthen that guard position (or re-sign Norwell and add a player like Brandon Scherff) by getting guard help in free agency.

CP: The Jaguars need to upgrade wide receiver and the offensive line, but as we mentioned above, there isn’t a stud wide receiver available. The interior offensive line could certainly benefit from getting younger, but you do that in the draft rather than free agency, usually.

JS: The Jaguars need help across the roster. But by far the biggest question mark in my mind is at wide receiver. The Jaguars have some solid players on the roster but they need a No. 1. DJ Chark is the closest thing to that guy the Jaguars have had over the past few years and he is a free agent. So, the Jaguars will have a big task on their hands by either retaining him or finding a new alpha for that room. The receiver market has dried up considerably so they will not exactly have very many options to chose from.

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Will the Jaguars be big spenders this week?

JB: After last year’s blasé class and general manager Trent Baalke’s constant use of the word “value,” I don’t have much faith that the Jaguars will land a big ticket player like Robinson. I think we’ll see more value signings from Jacksonville again. I don’t have much faith that the franchise will land a true No. 1 receiver, instead settling on another No. 2-type, ala Christian Kirk or Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

CP: This is going to be the first test to see how much influence Doug Pederson has in the decision making process. Last year, Trent Baalke talked about value. That was the keyword in free agency and the draft. I’m not saying it’s time to throw out the value component, but the Jaguars are going to have to overpay to get a player to come here. If the money is the same, veterans will usually go where they think they have a chance to contend for a championship in the next few years. It’s hard to make that case here in Jacksonville. I know it sounds like I’m bearish on the Jaguars free agency chances, but until they can provide something for a player to believe in, they aren’t getting the big dogs.

JS: The Jaguars will be big spenders this week but I’m not sure they will connect for very many home runs. We saw what frugal spending got the team last offseason. I expect them to take a different approach this year, but be much more willing to offer big contracts. How many big fish can they hook remains to be seen. While money talks so does the reputation of the organization, and the Jaguars don’t exactly come with very many glowing endorsements.

What’s a worst-case scenario for the Jaguars this week?

JB: They miss out on help at receiver and offensive line. They settle for more second- and third-type options at receiver. They continue to follow the Baalke method of value signings.

CP: Worst case scenario? Urban Meyer is rehired. Short of that, it’s that the Jaguars swing and miss and only find “solid contributors” in free agency. I can see this happening. I hope I’m wrong.

JS: This miss out on all of the big fish. Fans don’t want to hear “value” this year the expectation should be the splash. In each of the past 6 years, the top spender in free agency has increased its win total by at least 3 wins. The Jaguars have the money to be this years big spender and could definitely use a increase in their win total. Not utilizing that cap space for another year would be a huge whiff.

About the Authors:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.