Have you ever been any more uninterested in a Super Bowl?
The team that everyone hates, the Patriots, vs. the team that lied to and messed over an entire city, the Rams. Oh, what compelling football.
Naturally, I am rooting for the Rams here – the players can’t help the fact that the owner moved the team, and also they can’t help that they were coached by eternal bad coach Jeff Fisher, which made St. Louis apathetic to them and drove down ticket sales so the team could move in the first place. The great part is that L.A. just kind of doesn’t care – you have to win a championship for them to turn off their Lakers games, I guess.
The more intriguing items I think are the teams planning for next year already. Some teams are welcoming new coaches to town, others are rebuilding in other areas. I want to look at how one player is going to impact several teams, and then move along to some Jaguars items that have been percolating.
NICK FOLES IS STAYING IN THE NFC EAST
That’s right, Nick Foles, the Philly Hero, will not be playing for the Eagles next season. The Eagles are way too close to the cap to have the luxury of re-signing him, especially when they can build around Carson Wentz, still on his first contract. Nick Foles is probably the biggest potential free agent QB this offseason, even though he does not do as well outside of Philly. Other teams aren’t going to care about that – they’re going to care about his potential and his confidence, and his ability to lead. Several media personalities in Jacksonville believe that, because the Jaguars hired John DeFilippo, who was once Foles’ QB coach, as their offensive coordinator, the Jags have the best chance to sign him.
Foles was willing to step out of football and retire before the Eagles convinced him to come back. He wants to go to a situation where he can win again, and pad his legacy. He probably wants to play for another year or two, before leaving the game for good. Enter the Washington Redskins.
Alex Smith, who was the Redskins’ starting QB last year, had his season ended horribly with a leg injury that has taken much to overcome. He has battled infections and multiple surgeries. The team is operating right now under the assumption that Smith will not be ready to start the 2019 season. Backup QBs are all fine and good, but in order to win, Washington needs to secure the QB spot with a player that can carry the team while possibly waiting for Smith to come back. With apologies to Colt McCoy and Josh Johnson, it is not them.
I am predicting that the Washington Redskins will sign Nick Foles.
It makes a lot of sense – he won’t have to totally uproot his family, he’s familiar with the team, and they have the money to sign him. There you go. Also Washington was, until the end of the season, in the hunt for the division, so there’s also that.
What will the Jaguars do? For the sake of being a retread of an earlier article, now that the season is over, I’d like to take a look at some acquisitions and draft picks I’d like to see the team make.
JAGUARS CUTS AND RESTRUCTURES
It’s no secret the Jags are up against the cap. They are locked into their coaching staff now, making an OC change and some other assistant changes, but their staff is basically the same as far as the big positions go. They have decided to stay the course and hope that they can fix their offense, make some changes, and get back into contention. Is it possible? Of course it is – the Colts got a Wild Card berth after sucking out loud last year. New Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo helped Kirk Cousins to his best statistical year in Minnesota last year. It’s kind of exciting.
The team has to make some difficult choices and let some talent go. Not only do they need to bring in a couple of free agents, they also are going to need to sign Yannick Ngakoue and Jalen Ramsey to extensions before much longer. Of the players that I see leaving, probably the most notable is Malik Jackson. Unless they can restructure him to a very team-friendly deal and push some of his cap hit back, he is out. He is a nice dude but he was outplayed by some other players on the roster at the end of last season. Additional players that I expect to be cut or not resign with the team include: FS Tashaun Gipson, OT Jermey Parnell, RB Carlos Hyde, TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, and quite possibly WR Marqise Lee. Oh, and let’s not forget QB Blake Bortles.
They may want to create a little more cap room by moving someone else, which I’ll get to in a couple of segments.
Additionally, they’ll want to restructure some guys and I would expect them to do a restructure/extension of Calais Campbell’s contract. I would give him a huge signing bonus that can then be prorated across multiple years and make sure he retires a Jaguar. That guy is quite possibly the best free agent signing in the team’s history. Additionally, I would ask Marcell Dareus to restructure his deal as well, as he is one of the most expensive DLs the team has.
JAGUARS FREE AGENCY MOVES
I don’t think the Jags will be huge players in the market for free agents this year but they need to make a couple of moves to shore up their roster. First, after moving on from Gipson, if I’m the Jaguars I want to shore up the free safety position, as Ronnie Harrison likely has the SS position on lockdown. I want to do this by adding Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, formerly of Green Bay and Washington, to the roster. He would come in and make an immediate impact, and also be an upgrade at the position.
I would also want to bring in a reliable wide receiver as well, who has experience in multiple offenses including the type that DeFilippo is going to run, and would fit in well with the locker room culture. Golden Tate is that wide receiver to me. He has a family connection (his sister is Jalen Ramsey’s significant other) and also would be a safety valve for whoever is playing QB, and he still has the speed and agility to gain separation. Also, if the team doesn’t draft an additional wide receiver, I would expect them to take a long, hard look at Cole Beasley, who has been a solid target in Dallas for a long time.
Finally, I would want to bring in a quarterback to be a more capable backup than Tanner Lee. This person should know they may start a couple of games but will come in to play backup. Much has been made of DeFilippo’s connection to Josh McCown, who has always been a team player and made a positive difference in the locker room. He would be my pick, over someone like Bridgewater or Taylor even (both of whom I really like), due to his being willing to mentor a young QB.
JAGUARS DRAFT MOVES
Hey, I’ve got some news for you: the Jaguars need a starting, franchise-caliber quarterback. What a surprise, right? I bet you’re flabbergasted. They’re going to obtain this player in the draft. Not in free agency; the team doesn’t need another band-aid free agency player anywhere (their band-aid TE experiment failed miserably; their band-aid LG experiment is still being evaluated). If Dave Caldwell and Tom Coughlin are going to be taken seriously, they need to swing big for a quarterback.
That means that they also need to move up in the draft. They cannot risk waiting on a player to fall to them. The Senior Bowl has come and gone and the consensus is “the quarterbacks are not first-rounders” (even though you can count on a team to reach for one, cough Denver cough). The Jaguars must target either Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray and pick one, and they must do it with pick number one. For the first time in Jacksonville Jaguars history, they need to have the number one pick.
The Jaguars should trade their number 7 pick this year, their first round pick next year, and cornerback A.J. Bouye to the Cardinals for the 2019 first overall pick.
Personally, I believe the Jaguars should pick Dwayne Haskins. He is The Guy. He has the intangibles, he has the skill, and he just plain looks like a franchise QB. I really, really like him. I hope Dave and Tom do, too. The Jags need to trade up ASAP, because someone else who likes him is going to move up and grab him instead.
I additionally have heard that this draft is deep with offensive linemen, which is good – the Jags should grab one to groom for the right side of the line, either at guard or tackle. Also, either Iowa TE TJ Hockenstein or LSU TE Foster Moreau should be a target for the team. Both of them fit the new-TE profile of being a big dude with really, really good hands that can make plays. Finally, one thing Caldwell has been good at is finding gold at the wide receiver position wherever he may be drafting, and Ohio State WR Terry McLaurin could be a Jaguars target. He was impressive at the Senior Bowl and the Jaguars met with him multiple times.
So there you have it. Will it happen as I’ve laid it out here? Definitely not, but still, I’m going to state that the plan that makes the most sense for the Jaguars as a team, and the most sense for the Jaguars as a business organization trying to sell tickets, is to lock in a long-term, young, franchise QB who is actually a natural thrower of the football and can win games when the situation calls for it. Sure, it may be nice to say “we got the QB that won the Super Bowl against the Pats!” but you only get him for a year or two, versus the longevity that Haskins potentially brings.
It’s a no-brainer. Make it happen, guys.
See you next week for our post-large-important-game article!