No team had a more polarizing start to NFL free agency than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Including the franchise tag, Trent Baalke has handed out nearly $250 million in contracts — with a good chunk going to non-stars. Time to grade the Jaguars’ start to the offseason.
Jaguars Free Agency Grades
The Jaguars entered the offseason with some $55 million in salary cap and space and no intentions to sit on it. The franchise’s top priorities: Get Trevor Lawrence significant help and revamp the NFL’s 28th-ranked scoring defense. They did both — but at a significant cost.
Cam Robinson | Offensive Tackle
Franchise Tag | 1 year, $16.7 million
Baalke set the tone last week when he tagged Cam Robinson for the second straight season. The move made a ton of sense. Robinson was an above-average left tackle in 2021 (he allowed 1 sack in 857 offensive snaps), and his AAV even after the second tag is just 13th at his position. The value was simply too good to let the former second-round pick walk.
Brandon Scherff | Guard
Contract Terms | 3 years, $49.5 million
Few players have ever taken a pay cut when they finally sign a long-term, big-money contract. But after earning $33 million from the Commanders the past two years under the franchise tag, Brandon Scherff‘s owed cash in 2022 and 2023 totals just $32.8 million. Still, nothing to complain about, but it just shows how overpaid Scherff was in D.C. The contract still makes Scherff, 30, the highest-paid guard and 57th-highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL.
Christian Kirk | Wide Receiver
Contract Terms | 4 years, $72 million
Here’s where things went haywire. Christian Kirk in 2021 was 21st among wide receivers in catches (74), 24th in receiving yards (982), and 30th in touchdown catches (5). Granted, he wasn’t the Cardinals’ No. 1 option for much of the year, and that will certainly change in Jacksonville. But still, Baalke is making a massive gamble by making Kirk the NFL’s ninth-highest paid wide receiver.
Evan Engram | Tight End
Contract Terms | 1 year, $9 million
This is probably another overpay, but not an egregious one. Plus there’s zero long-term risk. All it costs the Jaguars is a little cap space in 2022 (and 2023, due to the rollover). Tight ends have cashed in the last couple of weeks, with seven of the top 15 tight end contracts handed out since the start of the franchise tag window.
The Jaguars given their historic dysfunction need to spend big to attract talent, and Evan Engram has proven to be a weapon (262 catches, 2,828 yards, 16 touchdowns) when healthy (16 missed games in five NFL seasons).
Foley Fatukasi | Defensive Tackle
Contract Terms | 3 years, $30 million
The fun part of free agency is when players few NFL sports fans have even heard of make CEO money. Foley Fatukasi, who languished in purgatory with the Jets the last four years, fits the bill.
While the $10 million AAV is eye-popping, it’s now the going rate for B-plus defensive tackles who reach the market. B.J. Hill and D.J. Jones got the same contract Monday. Time will tell if Fatukasi, an elite run stopper who has just 3 career sacks, belongs in that conversation.
Foye Oluokun | Linebacker
Contract Terms | 3 years, $45 million
The NFL’s leading tackler in 2021 is another talented under-the-radar free agent who got paid like a star. Foye Oluokun has some issues in coverage, but he’s a consistent playmaker on the inside who should help stabilize Jacksonville’s 23rd-ranked run defense. The question, of course, is the cost.
Oluokun is now the 12th-highest-paid linebacker in all of football, but fourth among non-pass-rushers. Is he in the same class as Darius Leonard, Fred Warner, and C.J. Mosley? Eh.
Zay Jones | Wide Receiver
Contract Terms | 3 years, $24 million
Zay Jones’ contract wasn’t quite as polarizing as the Kirk deal (probably because we became numb to the Jaguars’ free spending at that point), but it deserves some scrutiny too. Jones has never had more than 56 catches, 652 yards, or 7 touchdowns in any NFL season, and his career catch rate is a ghastly 55%. He’s presumably going to be Lawrence’s deep threat but only has mid-4.4 speed.
Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agency Grade
The Jaguars absolutely had to spend money this offseason, and given the lack of high-end talent, it was inevitable that they’d spend money on a bunch of Tier 2 and 3 players. We don’t have an issue with who they added. Our issue is with how much it cost to add them.
Jaguars Free Agency Grade: B-minus
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