JACKSONVILLE – Doug Pederson likes a lot about a lot of things right now.
The Jaguars' second-year head coach likes the state of the roster midway through the final phase of the 2023 offseason program – and likes, too, how that roster has approached recent months.
So far, so good. Very good.
"I've been pleased," Pederson said Monday during Day 7 of 2023 Organized Team Activities.
Pederson said participation remained high as the final week of OTAs began. He also said while he knows how he will approach next week's three-day mandatory minicamp, he doesn't plan to reveal that approach publicly.
Pederson last season did not require most veterans to attend the minicamp, which marks the official end of the offseason program for veterans. The minicamp is the lone mandatory period of the offseason program, which Pederson said makes the Jaguars' high participation thus far significant.
"That's the number one thing that I look at, because it's a voluntary offseason program," Pederson said. "We have great participation, great effort. Guys are doing the right things. We've been able to work on some stuff that the coaches have taken away from last season – or new ideas, new thoughts. We've been able to implement those this spring and really just get stuff on film.
"It has been a good offseason so far."
Pederson said the No. 1 offseason priority now is to remain healthy. Jaguars 2023 Training Camp will be held in late July at the new Miller Electric Center. With all offseason work non-padded, camp will be the first high-contact work for players since the 2022 AFC South Champions lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional Playoff on January 21.
"It's something you think about quite a bit," Pederson said. "No. 1, you have to come out of the offseason healthy. You don't want a setback with a player this late in the calendar year as far as the offseason goes and you want everybody to be healthy going into training camp."
Pederson on Monday also said he likes the roster as the offseason program nears an end. The Jaguars were less active in unrestricted free agency than recent off seasons, with the major moves in that area re-signing players such as defensive linemen Roy Robertson-Harris and DaVon Hamilton, reserve safety/special teams ace Andrew Wingard and nickel corner Tre Herndon.
The Jaguars this offseason also added wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who was acquired in a November trade with the Atlanta Falcons while serving an NFL gambling-related suspension. Ridley has participated fully in the entire offseason program.
"From a standpoint of just the overall depth of the roster, I think we're in a better place than we were last year," Pederson said. "I like the fact that we've got some young secondary guys that can work inside and outside. This is one of the better top-to-bottom offensive lines that we've had. The receiver room looks good. The running back room looks good."
Pederson added with a smile, "Right now, I would say everything looks great. Ask me in about three months."
- Tight end Evan Engram and outside linebacker Josh Allen remain the lone veterans not participating in voluntary OTAs. The Jaguars placed the franchise tag on Engram earlier this offseason, and the sides have until July 15 to agree on a long-term deal. If the sides don't agree on a deal, Engram can play the 2023 season on a one-year deal. Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, is entering the fifth and final season of his rookie contract – and Pederson said Monday the team has been in contact with Allen. He also said Allen is expected to participate in next week's mandatory minicamp. "He's not taking his time off," Pederson said. "He's working and preparing himself."
- Pederson on Monday morning said the team won't pursue wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals last week. "We have a really good [wide receiver] room right now," Pederson said. "At this time it's not a reality for us to bring someone like that in." Pederson also was asked about possibly signing a veteran pass rusher, saying: "You can't just jump at the first thing. Somebody has to fit your roster and fit your structure financially. Those are all things for conversations down the road. We've been pleased with the guys that are here that have been working. We just have to get them better and ready to go."