The 2021 Jaguars is maybe the most hilarious season a team has had. The “Urban Meyer experiment” is up there with the worst head coaching tenures of all time. He kicked, embarrassed, harassed, and groped his way straight out of the NFL (and likely right into a Fox Sports deal, shoutout to their morals), and while the stories of his employment in Jacksonville are hilarious, he did some serious damage to the short-term future of this team.
To the disappointment of many who dressed as clowns, the end of the Meyer era did not bring about the end of Khan and Baalke. With another poor start to the season, the clowns could return… but this time they won’t quit until the job is finished. Khan and Baalke seem well aware of their standing with the fanbase as they entered free agency and draft seemingly throwing caution to the wind.
So how did this do or die offseason go?
Well, hiring Doug Pederson is a great start, as you’re going from the biggest jokes of a coach in recent years to one who won a Superbowl ring five years ago. Hopefully Pederson can bring some stability back to a decimated locker room. His offense and creativity also creates some exciting possibilities for Trevor Lawrence, who showed a ton of promise during his rookie campaign but was hindered by the ineptitude of the offensive play calling.
In free agency, as is the case with most years due to the lack of high end contracts under their belt, the Jaguars spent BIG money on free agency. Some players and more specifically contracts look better than others but one thing is clear; Khan is not afraid to put big money into this franchise. That’s exactly what they’ll need to do, because most talented free agents aren’t interested in going to Jacksonville with the hopes of turning the franchise around.
Almost every free agent the Jaguars signed came in over market value, and while they need the influx of talent to properly evaluate Trevor Lawrence, it’s never good to be overspending on mediocrity.
Brandon Scherff was the top interior linemen on the market and was paid as such, with a whopping 3yr/$49.5M contract, making him the sixth highest paid guard in the NFL. Darious Williams was a highly productive corner in LA and they managed to sign him to a reasonable deal. Arden Key was one of the more underrated pieces of the 49ers defense a season ago and they signed him to a reasonable ‘prove it’ deal. So what’s the problem?
Just wait, I’m getting there.
What if I told you as of today, the Jaguars are spending the fourth most money on their receiving corps in the NFL?
You’d probably say, “But Frankie, isn’t that good? They have a young QB who they hope can be the guy, they should surround him with weapons!”
I completely agree! The problem arises when a front office decides Christian Kirk and Zay Jones are worth a combined $26M per year. I have nothing against those two as players, but their resume to this point doesn’t match the money handed out. The Christian Kirk contract, which came in at 4yr/$72M, set the NFL ablaze as second and third tier receivers started nearing $20M per year in contract values.
Combine all this with the money handed to Evan Engram, and you have an offense loaded to the brim with mediocrity. This is understandable for a team hoping to take a first step out of the basement and regain some respect from the league, but it doesn’t do much more than slightly raise the floor of a team who’s been the worst in football for two years running.
They handed Foyesade Oluokun a massive 3yr/$45M deal at off-ball linebacker, which makes sense in a division where you face Jonathon Taylor and Derrick Henry twice a year, but historically paying off-ball linebackers in free agency hasn’t worked well.
The NFL Draft from the Jaguars bordered on disaster.
Travon Walker is a fine number one pick, personally I would’ve heavily considered Evan Neal, but to each their own.
At the end of the first they traded up for Devin Lloyd giving up their second rounder, pick 106, and pick 180. I like Devin Lloyd at the spot, but after just paying Foyesade and considering the hit rate on first round linebackers, I don’t really understand not investing more in the offense early on.
In the third they added Luke Fortner, a solid center prospect, before committing what I view as draft treason.
You already overpaid one linebacker, you just drafted another in the first round, so what should you do with your final top-100 pick of 2022? Apparently, draft another off-ball in Chad Muma.
Again I like Muma; great prospect, looks like a day one starter. But in today’s NFL, the base defense is running nickel and dime packages with extra DBs and two, sometimes only one linebacker on the field. Maybe both players hit, and you have incredible depth being forced to bench one if not both most of the time. But this team just drafted Trevor Lawrence and wasted his first season; there are picks that will help this team win and more importantly help Lawrence show what he can do. Adding multiple linebackers doesn’t do that.
Maybe I just don’t see the vision, but I have a hard time believing Jacksonville isn’t picking in the top-5 in ‘23.