It’s clear that the Jacksonville Jaguars are making room financially (about $30 million) to make a splash on the first day of free agency, which is Wednesday, March 13th.
With the release of defensive tackle Malik Jackson, offensive tackle Jermey Parnell, safety Tashaun Gipson, and running back Carlos Hyde, it’s conceivable that quarterback Nick Foles will be their primary target in free agency.
But the spending shouldn’t stop there.
Yes the draft is less than two months away, but there is an opportunity to get better before April 25th. If Jaguars are truly in a “win now” mindset, they should fill a major vacated position with a veteran.
Help Wanted: Field-stretching Tight End
Jared Cook (6’ 5” 260 lbs.) has had to fill out a change of address form four times since entering the NFL as a third round selection by the Tennessee Titans in 2009. Despite countless praises during off-seasons from analysts, Cook has underperformed for the majority of his career. Sure, maybe Cook used a little extra motivation this past season, a contract year. A year in which he tallied his highest totals in receptions (68), yards (896) and touchdowns (6). Jaguars’ front office would need to weigh his motivation in order to not end up with another Julius Thomas situation.
However wouldn’t signing Cook be tempting to Foles if that is the direction the Jaguars are expected to take at quarterback? Foles spent the last two years in Philadelphia and had a top three tight end, Zach Ertz, as a weapon. Cook is not Ertz, but could be a safety blanket for Foles or whoever the Jaguars plug in at quarterback. Speculations have Cook signing for around $8 Million a season, which seems high. The Jaguars need that number to come down a bit to be in the market.
Or Run-Blocking Tight End
Heading into next week, free agent tight end Jesse James needs to be on the Jaguars radar as well.
James spent the last four years splitting time with Vance McDonald in Pittsburgh. The Steelers had a lot of egos to feed, and only one football, so his reception numbers are not that jaw dropping. However, in four years he racked up 120 catches and nine touchdowns in 56 games.
What he lacks in speed he makes up for in height. Standing 6′ 7″, James is potentially a huge weapon in the red zone if utilized correctly. However, his greatest attribute is in the running game.
Hailing from Penn State, a tight end factory, James learned blocking techniques that have translated to the next level. James is quick off the ball and is able to engage a defender using his size and strength. Both traits that would be appealing to head coach Doug Marrone in Jacksonville
If the time to win truly is now, it’s up to the Jaguars’ front office to make some moves. Not just at quarterback, but a veteran playmaker at tight end is needed now that there’s some breathing room under the salary cap.