Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

O-Zone: High in the sky

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Boomgrounder from Moundsville, WV

Hey, John. I'm sure I heard the Jaguars GM say his priority this offseason was to re-sign our own free agents. Well, after releasing three starters on defense and franchise-tagging another so far this offseason, I guess that means General Manager Trent Baalke hasn't executed his plan to achieve his vision?

Not necessarily. General managers and head coaches when speaking publicly near the start of league years typically emphasize re-signing their own players. It's a good look and the right thing to say. It's not always what they're able to do from a salary-cap perspective and it's not always the right thing to do. And while Baalke certainly knows that the ideal way to build a team long-term is to draft well and re-sign your own players, I didn't get the idea that was the overriding theme this offseason as much as maneuvering the cap and addressing some issues. Baalke in fact when speaking at the recent NFL Scouting Combine spoke more of having multiple important tasks to accomplish and having a lot of work to do. The work this offseason for the Jaguars was largely about trying to figure which veterans to release because of the cap and where to try to improve some positions that need improving. Remember, too: Moving on from veteran contracts is a necessary and expected part of having veterans on second contracts. The veterans released Tuesday – cornerback Darious Williams, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi – were signed by the Jaguars as second-contract free agents in 2022 (Williams/Fatukasi) and 2021 (Jenkins). Their contracts were structured in such a way that made it very possible from the time of their signing they would be released this offseason. As for Baalke achieving his plan this offseason, the 2024 NFL League Year hasn't started yet. The offseason therefore has barely begun.

Doug from Southside J'ville

Hi, John. Quick question about the salary cap. Players who were under contract last season who are now free agents are no longer under contract. How do their negated salaries count under the new cap. Does it increase the cap space since they're no longer a part of the team? Thanks. I appreciate what you do.

The salary cap is year to year, so while departed free agents don't count against a team's cap their departure doesn't really "increase" cap space. Perhaps the best way to answer your question is to consider a player who is under contract with a team from, say, 2022-2025. If the player signed a four-year, $20 million contract with an additional $4 million signing bonus and his salary spread evenly over four years, he would count $6 million against the salary cap each year because he would receive $5 million in salary per year with the effect of his signing bonus on the salary cap spread evenly over the four years of his contract. If he became a free agent following the 2025 season, he would not count against the 2026 salary cap because his contract would have expired.

Bobby From Section 410 from Summerville, SC

Hi, John. Was the release of defensive starters Fatukasi, Jenkins and Williams due to salary cap issues or these players possibly not being a good fit for the new defensive coordinator's scheme of things?


Bill from Jacksonville, FL

John, I get the sneaking suspicion that Owner Shad Khan, Baalke and Head Coach Doug Pederson believe that a couple less injuries and a couple less Trevor Lawrence turnovers were all that separated them from a late-season collapse and a deep playoff run. Lord help us if that's their belief.

Injuries certainly played a role in the Jaguars' late-season collapse, as did turnovers by quarterback Trevor Lawrence. I get no sense from either Baalke or Pederson that that they believe those were the team's only issues.

Scott from Jacksonville

We're down two quality corners now. I would be interested in your thoughts on how the team will replace those fellas.

Free agency and/or the draft.

*Art from Orange Park FL           *

I always find it weird when people don't understand why the fan base doesn't trust the general manager to do his job well. In 2021, we started a rebuild with the most cap space in the NFL, potential franchise quarterback and 29 draft picks. Three years later we have major holes at offensive line, cornerback, defensive tackle and wide receiver. Would you say the guy who was in charge during that time did a good job? It's maddening, O.

I wouldn't say Baalke has been perfect. He has had hits and misses, as has been the case with pretty much every NFL general manager. I also would say the Jaguars have won 18 games the past two seasons after finishing with the NFL's worst record in the two seasons before that, and after inheriting a very difficult roster situation … so perhaps at least an OK job?

Anthony from Richmond

Baalke not wanting to pay wide receiver Calvin Ridley $17 million year and letting him walk just to pay $14 million year to Gabe Davis. This is Allen Robinson/Marquise Lee all over again. Classic Jags.

I would be extreeeeeeeemely surprised if Ridley signs a contract worth $17 million a season.

*Tom from Duval             *

Why is it we can successfully and immediately pay free agents but can't do the same for Allen? I get the tag gives us leverage that we don't have with a free agent but why are we what appears to be nickel and diming our own homegrown talent that deserves the money? I am consistently confused by the front office, and well, that's not confusing anymore.

I'm all for the Jaguars re-signing outside linebacker Josh Allen. I wish it already had happened. I don't know that it's at all safe to assume the Jaguars are "nickel and diming" Allen. For all we know, the sides could be miles – read: many, many millions of dollars – apart.

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

I hope Trent and the front office know what they are doing. However, I think by tagging Allen they are going to lose Ridley. He will hit the free agent market as the most high-profile wide receiver since others such as Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman were tagged. Paying Allen before March 5 would have allowed the Jaguars to tag Ridley. This would have allowed them to have Ridley one more year before deciding if he could adapt to the Jaguars' offensive scheme and develop a better chemistry with Lawrence. Trent could also subtly be stating he doesn't want to pay big money to Ridley and is okay with him leaving. I think this is a mistake, but it's back to Christian Kirk and Zay Jones as the top two WRs. Maybe this will work, but we shall see.

Yes, we shall.

Lynn from Mandarin

So, we got better by subtraction? Williams was clearly our best corner last year. Did we draft another corner high and cut him at the end of his rookie contract again? C.J. Henderson did not make ot through his rookie contract and I doubt Tyson Cambell will get a second contract ? I guess we trust Baalke hits this time on one? We cut Jenkins instead of finding a place on the roster for a player who seems to always be around the ball and a clear leader on the defensive side. Seems like front office didn't get the memo. We want to be told we are setting up to win now, not that we are in the process of a slow rebuild. Help O!!! I'm getting flashbacks from the years immediately proceeding the famed Sacksonville Jaguars. Are we blowing it up again after this upcoming season?

A few thoughts on these (many) cornerback and secondary thoughts. One: While Darious Williams played well last season, he may not have been a great scheme fit for what appears likely to be a press-coverage-based approach under new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen. Two: Baalke didn't select cornerback C.J. Henderson No. 9 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the future of Campbell (No. 33, 2021) with the team is far from decided. Three: Safety Rayshawn Jenkins' release saved money against the cap and it's far from unusual for a free agent to move on after three seasons with an organization. Four: I don't know about any memo, but I don't get any sense of rebuilding or blowing up this offseason or next. The NFL is a league of transition. You keep a few core players for long periods. Most other players – particularly players signed as second-contract free agents cycle through after three or four seasons at the most.

Michael from Fountain

Just curious. Is the sky falling into your inbox? I see so many fans upset about the cuts and placing the tag on Allen, instead of Ridley. I personally think Antonio Johnson will be an upgrade over Jenkins, btw.

The sky may not be falling, exactly, but it sure ain't a bright, bright, bright, bright sunshiny day.