A few quick notes as the Combine finishes up and we get ready to start free agency later this week:
FRANCHISE TAG WOES – Some of the biggest free agency targets became practically nonexistent as teams used that pesky franchise tag on some key players, including Jason Pierre-Paul and Melvin Ingram. Well, as they say, it is what it is – the draft is fortunately deep with defensive ends (which is a key position for the Jaguars to improve this offseason) and look for teams to fill their immediate needs early in the draft this year, and then uncover some diamonds in later rounds.
QUARTERBACK SCRAMBLE– The roster of free agent quarterbacks this year looks relatively unimpressive, save for one potential name: Tyrod Taylor, who is in line to possibly be traded, but will likely be cut before free agency starts by the Bills. He is a legit starting QB with solid skills, and can give a team a chance to build around him. The problem with Taylor in Buffalo was that the talent the Bills tried to put around him was never completely healthy at the same time. The Browns really seem to want to pull the trigger on Taylor, which would potentially take them out of the market for Watson, Trubisky, etc. That’s probably a good idea for them. The bad idea is the recent talk of overpaying Mike Glennon, who has worn a ballcap and watched Jameis Winston turn into a franchise QB in Tampa. Glennon has the skills to be a competent backup QB but not a starter; it does seem like he will get some money though because some teams are desperate to overpay a guy who doesn’t deserve a $10 million per year deal. The talk right now is Chicago, who are almost certainly cutting ties with Jay Cutler, making a run at Glennon, who may be some sort of stopgap while they let potentially Watson or Kizer learn their system. Glennon may get a bit of a deal but if there is a signing bonus and the deal appears front-loaded, then the writing will be on the wall.
WASHINGTON BRAIN FARTS – Hey, I found a new nickname for them. Somehow in the past couple of weeks, the Redskins have taken the “they don’t know what they’re doing” narrative from the San Francisco John Lynches and ran with it. Apparently the ‘Skins’ GM, Scot “Only one T” McLoughan has been absent from the Combine and there are conflicting reports as to why. Some people say that, even though the Combine is one of the most important front-office events in the league year, he has taken off for family matters. Others say that Bruce Allen is making a power play and trying to run off an actual competent GM that wants to work with him, which is stupid. And still others say that McLoughan is slowly getting pushed out by both Allen and team owner Dan Snyder, who is a scuzzbag. The Redskins looked like they knew what they were doing last year, talent-wise, but they continually fail to lock up the franchise QB that is literally staring them in the face to a long term deal, franchising him for the second year in a row. This is apparently not a directive from the GM but from Allen who “isn’t sold” on Kirk Cousins’ skills. Just when you think one franchise is a joke, here come the Redskins.
AARON’S REVISED FREE AGENTS TO WATCH FOR THE JAGUARS
I don’t think the Jaguars are going to make a move at QB, because they seem to be giving Bortles one more shot to get things right. So I’m taking Hundley off of my board. Also, JPP and Eric Berry are not going anywhere, so that’s a no-go, and the Jags are clearly looking to also upgrade OL, the safety position, and maybe even make an upgrade at corner.
Here’s five free agents, again, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the Jags sign.
1. KEVIN ZEITLER – This is the new number one and it is pretty obvious why – run-pass balance is going to be an emphasis for the Jags in 2017 and it takes a competent line to open up holes for players to run through. Signing Zeitler to pair with Branden Albert, who will come to the team in a trade that can’t be finalized until Thursday, will shore up the left side of the line.
2. A.J. BOUYE – The team is letting Prince Amukamara test the market and if he doesn’t get what he wants, he will likely come back to the Jags. That said, there is clearly a very good, younger cornerback that can make his way to the team. Bouye has been a bright spot of the Texans’ defense recently and signing him to pair with the relatively cheap Jalen Ramsey for a few years will give the Jags an elite duo of starting CBs.
3. CALAIS CAMPBELL – Defensive end continues to be a point of emphasis for this team and I think they will go after at least one free agent target, and I believe that Campbell is it. He has played very well for the Cardinals and while he is a little older than the Jags may like at 30, he is a HUGE dude (6’8″ amd 280 lbs.) and can bring some stability to the defensive line.
4. TONY JEFFERSON – Two guys from the same previous team are unlikely to land in Jacksonville but Jefferson has a great talent for defending the run and can also cover very well. He is still young and is a huge upgrade from Jonathan Cyprien. He started out as an undrafted free agent but has worked hard to become a starter and that is the kind of guy Marrone and Coughlin like.
5. MARTELLUS BENNETT – I mean, why not, right? If the news coming out of Everbank is true about the Jags wanting to add a fullback, then maybe they won’t need their tight end to block as much. Bennett has a bit of a rep of being a diva but that didn’t show too much during his time in New England and that was probably the influence of Bill Belichick – and more of the same sort of discipline can be expected from Coughlin and Marrone. He has good hands and could be a solid dump-off option for Bortles, plus he has the speed to get downfield when needed.
Thanks for reading! Next week, I’ll have some free agency reaction and also a new mock draft after seeing where the free agent chips fall. Make sure you follow @BenchPointsBlog and @aacameron1 on Twitter for quicker reaction!