Aaron It Out: Post-Super-Bowl Void

So here we are, into the nebulous void of time where there isn’t much going on because the Combine got pushed back to right before Free Agency, and people are searching for things to write about.

One of those things that got written about was speculating where quarterbacks will land, done by one of the most prominent NFL writers, Peter King. In it, King projected landing spots for many QBs that are pending free agents or likely to be released in a few weeks. This was written, of course, a week after King spent a two-part article and a two-part podcast extolling the virtues of his man-crush, Tom Brady.

I’m not going to make a complete breakdown of his thoughts, but there are a couple of his assumptions that are flat-out wrong, in my opinion. The first is Jay Cutler going to the Cardinals. The last time I checked, the Cardinals had a quarterback that was starting-caliber in Carson Palmer. That player very recently led the Cardinals to the playoffs. If you ask me, if Cutler goes anywhere (I do believe the Bears will move on from him, but he has to be cut or traded first), it will be to the New York Jets. They are in need of a quarterback and they have a couple of pretty good receivers as well as a not bad offensive line, including Brandon Marshall, who was with Cutler in Chicago for a short time. The Jets could take a QB in the draft, and I have mocked them taking Mitch Trubisky, but while that guy does some developing the Jets are wanting to win in an increasingly competitive AFC East. The Dolphins are on the rise and I don’t think the Jets want to get left in the cold. Another potential landing spot for Cutler would be the Raiders, where he could serve as a backup to Derek Carr.

The second thing I would like to talk about in King’s article is that Tony Romo could potentially land in Kansas City. Last I checked, as wanting as Alex Smith may be for the deep ball, he is a pretty good QB, and I don’t think that Romo offers any sort of immediate upgrade there. There are two possibilities for Romo that I see playing out: first, he stays in Dallas, gets paid his current contract, and the Cowboys make another run to a championship. Dallas has Dak Prescott but they also are paying him fourth-rounder money, so he is cheap (they can re-do his deal after the 2017 season). The other possibility is that the Texans eat the contract they offered Brock Osweiler and either trade or sign Romo. I doubt Romo wants to move his family, and I doubt he wants to be far from them. I just don’t see him signing anywhere else, and he is injury-prone. A chance for him to back up Dak and be an insurance policy in Dallas when the Cowboys just made a solid run to the NFC Divisional game and have as good a shot as any to make it to the Super Bowl next year, is a smart move in my opinion.

Now, let’s look at the Jaguars, who have been quietly making a few personnel moves over the past week or so.

First, they released Jared Odrick. Seeya later, buddy. Odrick was a very counter-culture guy, and that doesn’t always jive with what Tom Coughlin wants in a player. He also didn’t have the production to justify his contract. He did hit 5.5 sacks in 2015 but last year he only played in six games and only recorded one sack. Defensive end looks to be a place to upgrade in free agency, and the possibilities look to be fun.

Speaking of defense, the Jags also signed Abry Jones, who started in place of Roy Miller once he was hurt this past year, to a four-year affordable deal. Good for him. He is a solid player and a good piece of the line. He is also young and it is good the Jags locked him in.

Now think of this starting lineup on the defensive line: Yannick Ngakoue at end, Malik Jackson and Abry Jones in the middle, and Jason Pierre-Paul at the other end. Doesn’t that make you think of the great possibilities? That is definitely a dominant-sounding defensive line.

Also, Kelvin Beachum was released from his contract before a bonus kicked in. He wasn’t bad or anything but he was not great last year either. It remains a possibility that he could come back at less money, but Beachum may also test the market.

Finally, the Jaguars are dealing with Miami. They are going to trade for a proven offensive tackle in Branden Albert. He went to the Pro Bowl very recently, and while he was injured some last year, he seems to be an upgrade over Beachum. They are also trading away Julius Thomas. I think that Thomas was not happy with the Jags. He was asked to block – something he was not used to in Denver. The way the Jags’ o-line has been recently, they need extra help, and Denver’s line is regularly very good. Thomas’ blocking did not open him up to being used downfield like he was in Denver. Also, he never really connected with Blake Bortles, and he was never as sure a target in Jax as the wide receiving corps was. I hope Thomas doesn’t look back on his time in Jax negatively, but at the same time, the Jaguars were not getting what they paid for with him.

Coughlin likes to build the trenches, historically. (Also, let’s not make any false assumptions here – in my opinion, these moves are the first of what will likely be many to clear up some of Dave Caldwell’s bad judgment calls.) The offensive line getting better will lead to Bortles (or whoever is playing QB) having more time to make a throw, and Eventual Jaguar Dalvin Cook will have more holes to run through. The defensive line getting better means that the opposing quarterbacks the Jags face (nothing to sneeze at: Luck and Mariota twice, Flacco, Roethlisberger, Dalton, Palmer, and Wilson, among others) will be hurried up and hampered in their abilities to make plays happen.

The Jaguars are changing and will very likely make some solid moves in free agency. Many wonder about whether Coughlin’s spending back during his first time with the Jaguars will come back to haunt him again. If you ask me, I’d rather be $5 million under the cap and going to the playoffs, instead of $70 million under the cap and picking fourth in the draft.

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