With the hiring of Tom Coughlin as Vice President and Doug Marrone as head coach, the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking encouraging entering the off-season. The Jaguars will be looking to make a splash in free agency, much like last year, where they picked up big names such as Malik Jackson and Kelvin Beachum. Entering the 2017 period, the Jaguars could have around $60,000,000 of cap room to play with, not the most by any means, but certainly still a hefty sum to work with.
Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 Free Agency Targets
The 2017 free agent class is an attractive one, and there are certainly players available in positions that the Jaguars could look to target. Having said that, here are my thoughts on players the Jaguars should look to move for in free agency, in order to improve their roster.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive End
The Jaguars defence ranked fifth in the league in total defensive hurries but were unable to convert them into meaningful results. Sitting 19th in sacks and 25th in forced fumbles, the Jaguars defence simply did not pressure opposing quarterbacks enough this season. By quite the contrast, the New York Giants defensive line had success pressuring quarterbacks, ranking 14th in sacks and third in total tackles.
Jason Pierre-Paul was an important part of the Giants defense that ranked third in opponent rush yards per game. Recording seven sacks, with three forced fumbles, JPP picked the perfect time to have a great season. Cementing himself as an outside rush presence, Pierre-Paul can apply pressure consistently on opposing quarterbacks. The only thing that may put the Jaguars off the seven year veteran is his five-year, $85 million contract demand.
Eric Berry, Safety
Jaguars safety Jonathan Cyprien is a pending free agent and although it is likely he will re-sign with the team, Jacksonville could look for an upgrade at that position. While Cyprien recorded 96 solo tackles in 2016 for the Jaguars, his coverage was often exposed as opposing quarterbacks were able to make big plays with him in coverage. The same can be said for the other Jaguars safety, Tashaun Gipson, who was uninspiring this year.
Eric Berry however, has enjoyed one of his best years in the league, recording four interceptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns. The five time Pro Bowler also had one forced fumble and 62 solo tackles, making him a target for Jacksonville.
Ricky Wagner, Offensive Tackle
Perhaps the most important player on this list, Ricky Wagner is almost an off-season priority for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars were frequently let down by their offensive line, which allowed 85 quarterback hits and gave up 34 sacks during the 2016 season. Wagner has proven to be a consistent talent at both run and pass blocking and would pair nicely with Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum. With the addition of Wagner to the roster, the Jaguars would be able to provide better protection for quarterback, Blake Bortles, and also open up more channels to improve the run game.
Martellus Bennett, Tight End
Julius Thomas‘ time in Jacksonville has seemingly come to an end. When UPI reported that the Jaguars are expected to cut Thomas, the search for a new tight end began in Jacksonville. Enter Martellus Bennett. The New England Patriots tight end was brought in from the Chicago Bears last March and looked set to have a backup role in New England.
However, with Rob Gronkowski being placed on injured reserve by the Patriots in December, Bennett was given the opportunity to add value to his free agency price tag. Bennett recorded 55 receptions for 701 yards with seven touchdowns during the regular season, and was also a fierce run blocker for the Patriots. With Thomas seemingly on his way out of Jacksonville, Bennett may be just what the Jaguars need.
Holding a decent amount of cap room to work with, the Jaguars should look to make key additions to the roster before the draft. With their sights set on the playoffs next year, the Jacksonville Jaguars will certainly need to improve their roster, should they hope to make a post-season run.