JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars aren’t done in free agency.
Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell both made that clear Thursday in the wake of signing quarterback Nick Foles.
But with the Jaguars’ currently $12 million under the salary cap for 2019, Coughlin made it just as clear that Foles likely will be the extent of the team’s major moves in the 2019 unrestricted free-agency period.
“We have limited funds,” Coughlin told reporters Thursday afternoon at TIAA Bank Field. “We’re obviously studying everything, and we’d like to think there are perhaps a bargain or two out there that we could take advantage of. But we have limited funds.”
Foles, the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl LII following the 2017 season while with Philadelphia, signed as an unrestricted free agent Thursday. Coughlin was asked if the team had the potential to add offensive talent around Foles.
“We’d like to increase some that – certainly,” Coughlin said. “We need to improve in that area.”
How will that happen?
“The draft, that will help,” Coughlin said
Coughlin also was asked if he was concerned that rookies would be asked to improve an offense that struggled at times in an injury-plagued 2018 season.
“We have more than rookies,” he said. “We have some second-year guys who are going to help us.”
The Jaguars’ cap situation was a major focus among observers as Wednesday’s 4 p.m. start of the 2019 NFL League Year approached. Whereas the Jaguars had been well under the cap for much of the last half-decade, they were projected over the cap as March 13 approached.
They saved an estimated $30 million against the cap Friday when they released defensive tackle Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson, running back Carlos Hyde, long snapper Carson Tinker and right tackle Jermey Parnell. Those moves got the Jaguars under the cap for the start of the league year.
The Jaguars released quarterback Blake Bortles Wednesday shortly after signing Foles. Bortles represents $16.5 million in “dead money” against the cap although he no longer is on the roster.
Caldwell also said the Jaguars opted to absorb Bortles’ cap hit this season as opposed to a so-called “Post June 1 release” because “we had the room this year.” A Post-June 1 release would have allowed the Jaguars to split the cap hit over 2019 and 2020.
“It will give us a [cap] credit next year,” Caldwell said.
Foles reportedly received a $25 million signing bonus. Caldwell said he will count $12 million against the cap in 2019 with a reported cap figured of $21 million in 2020. The lower cap figure in ’19 could allow the Jaguars some flexibility in the coming days.
The Jaguars not only released the aforementioned players, they allowed 16 players – many of whom started multiple games last season as replacements for Week 1 starters – to become unrestricted free agents Wednesday. Those players included seven offensive linemen and three tight ends.
The moves leave the Jaguars with six offensive linemen and two tight ends, meaning the positions – along with multiple others – will be addressed in “second-tier free agency” or via the April 25-27 NFL Draft and/or collegiate free agency following the draft.
“We’re working on some deals right now,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got about $12 million in room now, so we’ve got some room now and we can always create some more space.”