JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars enter 2021 NFL free agency coming off a 1-15 season in 2020 and have 23 unrestricted free agents.
The Jaguars have the most salary cap space available ($77 million) of any team so they should be pretty active in free agency. The top positions to target are left tackle, tight end and the secondary. Adding another receiver and a young defensive tackle would be a good idea, too.
Here’s what to expect from the Jaguars when the NFL offseason hits high gear with the start of free agency on March 17:
Under contract: Gardner Minshew II, Jake Luton
UFA: Mike Glennon
Game plan: Trevor Lawrence with the first pick and Minshew and Luton battle it out for the backup spot, unless the Jaguars can get a solid trade offer for either. Possibly another veteran, but only for low money.
Under contract: James Robinson, Ryquell Armstead, Nathan Cottrell, Craig Reynolds
UFA: Chris Thompson
Game plan: Robinson was one of the NFL’s biggest surprises in 2020 and is clearly RB1 in 2021. The Jaguars have to find a complementary back. A speedster who can be a change-of-pace option and/or a third-down back. That was supposed to be Thompson, but he got hurt and missed eight games.
Under contract: DJ Chark Jr., Terry Godwin, Josh Hammond, Collin Johnson, Laviska Shenault Jr.
UFA: Chris Conley, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook
Game plan: Chark had a somewhat disappointing season in 2020 (53 catches for 706 yards and battling injuries) after making the Pro Bowl in 2019, and Shenault had 58 catches and Johnson 18 as rookies. Expect the Jaguars to be active in free agency at receiver, though it may not be for the top-level guys. Bringing back Cole, who was second on the team with 55 catches last season, would be a good move.
Under contract: Josh Oliver, Tyler Davis, Ben Ellefson
UFA: Tyler Eifert, James O’Shaughnessy
Game plan: This is the Jaguars’ biggest need on offense. Oliver has played in just four games since the Jaguars drafted him in the second round in 2019 because of various injuries, including a broken foot that sidelined him for all of 2020, so it’s hard to count on anything from him. Hunter Henry will be the biggest free agent available and the Jaguars should be aggressive in pursuing him.
Under contract: Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, Jawaan Taylor, Ben Bartch, Will Richardson, K.C. McDermott, Austen Pleasants, Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, Garrett McGhin
UFA: Cam Robinson, Tyler Shatley
Game plan: If the Jaguars don’t use the franchise tag on Robinson (they have until March 9) then expect the team to pursue a left tackle in free agency (Trent Williams is the best available) and to draft one as well. Urban Meyer said recently the OL was “pretty good” and he didn’t feel the need to blow it up, but the Jaguars have to make sure they’re set on the left side to protect Lawrence’s blind side.
Under contract: Al Woods (2020 opt-out), Lerentee McCray (2020 opt-out), Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, Taven Bryan, Dontavius Russell, Doug Costin, Daniel Ekuale, DaVon Hamilton, Gabe Wright, Aaron Patrick
UFA: Dawuane Smoot, Adam Gotsis, Aaron Lynch, Ross Daniels, Abry Jones, Caraun Reid, Daniel Ross
Game plan: The interior of the defensive line is the Jaguars’ biggest issue after quarterback. Since it’s not regarded as a good draft class of defensive tackles, the Jaguars likely will be active in free agency. Leonard Williams and Ndamukong Suh are the big names available, but someone else to watch is Dalvin Tomlinson, who was very productive with the New York Giants last season and is only 27 years old. Hamilton was one of the Jaguars’ better rookies last season and has a bright future.
Under contract: Joe Schobert, Myles Jack, Joe Giles-Harris, Leon Jacobs, Shaquille Quarterman, Chapelle Russell, Quincy Williams, Nate Evans
Game plan: The Jaguars are likely switching to a 3-4, which would mean Allen and Chaisson would move to outside linebacker. Both played there in college and thrived, and this is a switch that should have happened last season. A starting lineup of Allen, Schobert, Jack and Chaisson is pretty darn good, but the Jaguars have to add more outside guys who can rush.
Under contract: C.J. Henderson, Josiah Scott, Chris Claybrooks, Luq Barcoo, Nate Meadors, Quenton Meeks, Josh Nurse, Brandon Rusnak, Rashaan Melvin (2020 opt-out)
UFA: D.J. Hayden, Sidney Jones, Greg Mabin
Game plan: Henderson had an up-and-down rookie season, but he’s locked in as one starter. The other is up in the air and the Jaguars have to make that spot one of their priorities. Jones played well as a starter when he was healthy last season and he would be an affordable option. Claybrooks was a bit of a surprise last season because the team thought he’d have more use as a returner, but he ended up starting four games. The Jaguars aren’t expected to re-sign Hayden, but bringing back restricted free agent Tre Herndon and moving him inside to nickel would solve that problem.
Under contract: Jarrod Wilson, Andrew Wingard, Daniel Thomas
UFA: Josh Jones, Doug Middleton
Game plan: Wilson is a smart, solid, dependable player. Thomas stared to come on at strong safety before an arm injury cost him the final six games. Wingard made strides in his second season, but the Jaguars really need to add a playmaking safety.
Under contract: Josh Lambo, Logan Cooke, Cameron Nizialek, Ross Matiscik
UFA: Aldrick Rosas, Dustin Colquitt
Game plan: Lambo and Cooke are among the league’s best players at their positions, so there shouldn’t be much action here.