A breakdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars' 2018 free-agent signings.
The Jaguars have signed Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who played last season with the New York Jets. Here’s a closer look at the signing:
Grade: B. The Jaguars continue to address one of their weakest positions. Jaguars tight ends had an NFL-worst 43 catches in 2017. They signed Niles Paul on Wednesday and Seferian-Jenkins gives them another experienced pass-catcher.
What it means: Seferian-Jenkins is coming off the best season of his career (50 catches, 357 yards, 3 touchdowns), but he has averaged only 10.2 yards per catch in his five-year career. Still, it seems he’ll slide in as the Jaguars’ top pass-catching option at the position. The Jaguars have needed a big red zone target at tight end; that just hasn’t worked out consistently with Marcedes Lewis, but maybe it can with the 6-foot-6 Jenkins.
What’s the risk: Despite being 6-6 and 262 pounds, Seferian-Jenkins is strictly a move tight end. The Jaguars need to use him that way and not try to make him an inline tight end or this could turn into a wasted signing.
Niles Paul, TE
The Jaguars have signed Niles Paul, who played the past six seasons with the Washington Redskins. Here’s a closer look at the signing.
Grade: C. The Jaguars desperately need a move/flex tight end, and Paul fills that role. He isn’t an impact player, though, and that’s what the Jaguars need to help keep defenses from loading the box to stop the run the way they did last season.
What it means: How much of an impact Paul can make is unclear. Still, he certainly helps. Jaguars tight ends caught a league-low 43 passes and were targeted the third-fewest times in the NFL in 2017. Marcedes Lewis is more of a blocker at this point in his career, and the Jaguars need a tight end who can be a consistent factor in the red zone. Paul also was a special-teams captain with the Redskins, so he will help there, too.
What’s the risk: Paul had one good season (39 catches for 507 yards and one touchdown in 2014) but missed the following season and part of 2016 with a torn ACL. His numbers the past two seasons aren’t great (just 15 total catches for 121 yards), but he was fighting for playing time behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. He’ll get more of a chance to develop with the Jaguars, but his ceiling is a mystery.
Don Carey, ST
The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed Don Carey, who played the last seven seasons for the Detroit Lions. Here’s a closer look at the signing:
Grade: C. Carey was signed as a special teams player and to be a backup cornerback and safety. The Jaguars aren’t bringing back Lerentee McCray, who was a core special teams player last season. Carey was drafted by Cleveland in 2009 but was claimed by the Jaguars after the Browns waived him and sat out the season with an injury. He started 13 games at safety for the Jaguars in 2010.
What it means: The Jaguars’ special teams for the most part were solid in 2018, but that’s not good enough for special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. He wanted more consistency and big plays out of his units, and Carey was a very good special teams player with the Lions. His ability to play multiple positions in the secondary is an added bonus.
What’s the risk: Pretty much none. Carey has a fantastic reputation around the league as a great locker room guy who takes care of business professionally. He is 31 but has missed only 10 games over the past five seasons.
D.J. Hayden, CB
Grade: C Hayden hasn't played at a level expected of a No. 12 overall pick (where Oakland drafted him in 2013) and is now headed to his third team. He has three interceptions, 35 pass breakups and three forced fumbles in 61 career games. He started only one game for the Lions last season.
What it means: The Jaguars needed a replacement nickelback after Aaron Colvin agreed to terms with Houston, and Hayden is going to compete for the spot along with 2017 seventh-round draft pick Jalen Myrick. Hayden has posted better numbers than Colvin, who never intercepted a pass during the regular season, and thrived when first moved to nickelback in 2016 with Oakland. That position seemed to be a better fit for him than playing outside.
What’s the risk: Colvin, who did have a postseason interception, had very good coverage skills against slot receivers. That’s an often-overlooked skill set because nickelbacks have to deal with receivers going inside or outside. Hayden has big shoes to fill there. He was on the field for 44 percent of the Lions' defensive snaps in 2017, which is significantly lower than Colvin's playing time (67.4 percent). Will Hayden be consistent enough to handle a bigger workload?
Donte Moncrief, WR
The Jacksonville Jaguars will sign Donte Moncrief, who played the past four years for the Indianapolis Colts. Here’s a closer look:
Grade: C-minus. There wasn’t much left in the market at receiver, but the Jaguars were pretty familiar with the former Colt. However, which Moncrief are they getting? The one that caught 64 balls for 733 yards and six TDs in 2015 or the guy who missed 12 games the past two seasons with shoulder and ankle injuries and caught just 26 passes in 2017?
What it means: Moncrief has the size (6-foot-2, 212 pounds) and speed (4.4-second 40-yard dash) to be the deep threat the Jaguars need to force defenses to at least respect the pass game. Teams ganged up on the line of scrimmage to stop Leonard Fournette last season and didn’t respect the pass game at all once Allen Robinson went down in the opener. Moncrief is a similar player to Robinson: He can go up and get 50-50 balls and make plays down the field. That’s a skill the rest of the Jaguars' receivers haven’t shown they can do consistently.
What’s the risk: It was sort of an open secret that the Colts had no desire to bring Moncrief back in 2018, which says a lot considering he’s only 24 and they have just three players under contract for 2018 who have caught passes in an NFL game: T.Y. Hilton (431), Chester Rogers (42), and James Wright (18). Moncrief has shown a lot of flashes of his game-breaking ability but he hasn’t played with enough consistency. He even lost his starting job for several weeks last season to Kamar Aiken, who caught 75 passes for Baltimore in 2015 but has just 44 catches in the past two seasons (31 games) combined.
Marqise Lee, WR
The Jaguars re-signed Marqise Lee, who played the past four years in Jacksonville. Here’s a closer look at the signing:
Grade: B. Though Lee dropped 12 passes over the past two seasons (the third-most in the NFL over that span) he has gone from being injury-prone to the team’s most dependable receiver and there’s something to be said for that.
What it means: The Jaguars clearly didn’t want to spend big money at the position and once Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins and Paul Richardson agreed to deals, Lee was the team’s best option. It would be good for the Jaguars to find some additional ways to use Lee (they virtually abandoned the jet sweep in 2017) and take advantage of his quickness. Lee will enter camp as the No. 1 receiver and he has shown the ability to handle that role. He also will be responsible for helping Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole develop in their second season as pros.
What’s the risk: Lee is not the downfield playmaker the team needs. He has 12 catches of 30 or more yards in four seasons (Robinson had 21 in 2015) and only two of them have come on passes that have traveled 30 or more yards in the air. The team still doesn’t have anyone who has proved he can stretch the field and until the team does defenses will stack the box to stop the run game.
The Jaguars signed Norwell, who played the past four seasons for the Carolina Panthers. Here's a closer look at the signing:
Grade: A. Norwell was first-team All-Pro and, per Pro Football Focus, the only offensive lineman who did not allow a quarterback sack or hit in 2017. He was the top offensive lineman available and addressed the offense's biggest weakness: the interior of the line.
What it means: The left side of the offensive line is potentially one of the best in the league. Norwell slides in as the starter at left guard between second-year left tackle Cam Robinson and center Brandon Linder. When the Jaguars need some tough yards, they'll undoubtedly run Leonard Fournette behind that side of the line. Norwell helped the Panthers finish fourth, 10th, and second in the NFL in rushing the past three seasons and will be a huge upgrade over Patrick Omameh.
What's the risk: There really isn't one. Norwell has proved to be a durable player. He has missed only three games in the past three seasons. Though the Jaguars are making him the highest-paid guard in the NFL ($13.3 million), the team nearly always structures contracts so the guaranteed money is paid out in the first two years. The team had only $13.7 million in guaranteed money on the books for 2019 before this signing, so there should be no salary-cap issues.