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Jaguars' GM Trent Baalke: Navigating Deadline Pressure for Deal Success 

022724 Baalke Press Conference Recap Article

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. –Trent Baalke feels good about the offseason.

Baalke, the Jaguars' general manager, on Tuesday spoke positively of recent discussions with multiple key pending free agents – and he and Head Coach Doug Pederson each spoke positively of the team's outlook as the start of the 2024 NFL League Year approaches.

The coming weeks are important, and Baalke likes the Jaguars’ situation.

"We're sitting pretty good," he said.

Baalke, entering his fourth offseason as the Jaguars' general manager, spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon at the Indiana Convention Center at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. He covered multiple topics, including the team's situation with the salary cap and contract situations of multiple players – including outside linebacker Josh Allen.

Allen, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and guard Ezra Cleveland are among multiple Jaguars veterans scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on the March 13 start of the NFL League Year. Baalke said discussions have taken place with representative for all three players.

"When it comes to free agents on our roster, we definitely want to sign them all back if we can," Head Coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday, with Baalke adding: "We're going to continue to have conversations with all of them. We've got a lot of work to do this offseason."

Baalke added, "We've had a lot of discussions over the last two weeks. We obviously have a lot of moves we have to do. There are a lot of players that could hit free agency. There is another bunch of young guys that we're working on potential extensions for, so we've got a lot of balls in the air right now.

"We're just going to try to play them one by one."

Baalke, who earlier in the offseason said Allen will be with the Jaguars next season, said he has spoken in recent weeks with Allen's representatives – and that he would meet with Allen's representatives again Tuesday.

"That's an ongoing discussion we're having with his agent," Baalke said, adding: "There are so many things that go into the decisions you make on every individual player. Without going into detail on each player and each situation and what's available, it's hard to lay that all out in your mind.

"Every player has different specifics that go along with getting a deal done or not getting a deal done. Our focus is on getting deals done."

The NFL's deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag is March 5. A prospective free agent who receives the tag has the option of playing for the team under a guaranteed one-year contract.

"I don't want to speculate on that," Baalke said of using the franchise tag on Allen. "We've got a little over a week to work with here. We're going to work diligently with his agent to try to come to a resolution on this thing. That's where our focus is right now."

Baalke and Pederson, too, on Tuesday discussed Ridley – who joined the Jaguars in a 2022 trade with the Atlanta Falcons. Among the trade stipulations: That the Jaguars will send the Falcons a second-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft if they sign Ridley to a long-term extension. If they do not re-sign Ridley to such an extension – or if they use the franchise tag on Ridley – the Jaguars will send the Falcons a '24 third-round selection.

"We're not real concerned with that, whether it's a second or third round," Baalke said. "We're just going to work with the player and see if we can come to an agreement. Whether that's before the compensation changes or not, that remains to be seen. We're more focused on the player."

Baalke said he had a "great" meeting with Ridley in his office recently.

"I had a great talk with Calvin, know exactly where he's at and and he knows where we're at," he said. "We're just going to continue to work with all these players and try to come to some form of compromise, some form of resolution as, as the weeks go on."

The NFL last week announced that the salary cap would increase an unprecedented $30.4 million in 2024 to $255.8 million. Teams reportedly had expected an increase of about $15 million.

“I don't think it really changes anything,” Baalke said. "Obviously it affects everybody the same way. So it's not like it creates an advantage or a disadvantage for us."

Baalke added, "We're in good cap shape right now. We're sitting pretty good, right in the middle-to-upper tier of the league in terms of cap space available – we've got moves we can do to create more cap space.

"We like the position we're in, we like the flexibility that we have. We're not going to disclose any of our thoughts right here, but we feel good about where we're at."


  • One current player Baalke discussed specifically Tuesday: Left tackle Cam Robinson, with Baalke saying he expects Robinson to return to the Jaguars next season. Robinson's $21.2 million 2024 salary-cap figure had prompted some observers to speculate Robinson would be released this offseason. "He's under contract and the expectation is that he will be back," Baalke said.

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