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On to 2024: Assessing Wide Receivers

030624 On to 24

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and Jaguars/NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks examine the Jaguars' wide receiver position in this position-by-position look at the '24 offseason

Position: Wide receivers.

  • Position coach: Chad Hall
  • 2023 starters: Calvin Ridley (17), Christian Kirk (12), Zay Jones (8), Tim Jones (2), Parker Washington (1), Jamal Agnew (1)
  • Others: Elijah Cooks, Jacob Harris, Seth Williams, Jaylon Moore

2023 At A Glance

This was a potent area in 2023 that produced in a big way at times – and that was also limited throughout the season to varying degrees by injuries. Calvin Ridley, acquired in a trade late in the 2022 season from the Atlanta Falcons, played for first time in nearly two years – and caught 76 passes for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns. He was the team's lone receiver to start all 17 games. Kirk, who missed the last five games with a core muscle injury, caught 57 passes for 787 yards and three touchdowns and was again a reliable target for quarterback Trevor Lawrence when healthy. Zay Jones played through injuries much of the season, starting seven games with 34 receptions for 321 yards and two touchdowns. The other Jaguars receivers – Agnew (14 receptions, 225 yards, one touchdown), Washington (16-132-two), Jones (11-83-0) and Cooks (3-38-0) – combined for 44 receptions, 478 yards and three touchdowns.

Offseason Storyline

This will be an area to watch in the coming weeks and months, with the future of Ridley a major offseason storyline. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on the March 13 start of the 2024 NFL League Year, with the team having the option of trying to extend his contract before that date. If the Jaguars re-sign Ridley to a long-term deal before the start of the new league year, they will send a 2024 second-round selection to the Atlanta Falcons as part of the '22 trade; if he does not re-sign before then, they will send the Falcons a '24 third-round selection. If the Jaguars don't re-sign Ridley, it appears likely they would need to sign a free agent or perhaps address the position early in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Free agents as of March 13: Ridley, Agnew, Jones (exclusive rights free agent), Moore (ERFA).

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WR Jamal Agnew (39), WR Calvin Ridley (0) and WR Parker Washington (11)

Bucky Brooks' Top Free-Agent Wide Receivers:

  1. Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts
  2. Ridley
  3. Gabe Davis, Buffalo Bills
  4. Bonus: Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Arizona Cardinals

Bucky Brooks' Top Three Collegiate Wide Receiver Prospects:

  1. Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State
  2. Rome Odunze, Washington
  3. Malik Nabers, Louisiana State

Oehser Analysis: Wide receiver is among the more intriguing positions for the Jaguars entering the 2024 League Year. The first task is to determine if Ridley figures into the team's future, with the thought here being that he will be difficult to replace if allowed to leave as a free agent. Ridley was the most difficult Jaguars receiver to cover one on one in 2024, and he drew multiple interference and contact penalties that converted important first downs. As big a question is the rest of the receiving corps. Christian Kirkremains the team's most reliable and most important receiver, with Lawrence often relying on his dependable and precise route running in critical situations. The Jaguars lost five of six games after his Week 13 injury, with Lawrence also struggling with multiple injuries during that span. Injuries throughout the season also reduced the effectiveness of Jones, whose reliability and playmaking had been critical to the offense – and to Lawrence's success – a season before. Do the Jaguars move forward with Ridley, Kirk and Jones as the key receivers? Or do they replace Ridley? And perhaps Ridley and Jones? The latter option is a lot to try to replace effectively in one offseason.

Brooks' Analysis: The Jaguars have a top-five-caliber unit when Kirk, Ridley and Jones are on the field together. The trio features a group of interchangeable pass catchers with polished route-running skills, sticky hands and complementary games. The Jaguars' ability to play musical chairs on the perimeter with a talented collection of pass catchers around Lawrence was expected to give opposing defensive coordinators headaches when crafting plans to defend Head Coach Doug Pederson's squad. Though injuries prevented the crew from sharing the field in 2023, the trio's potential should prompt the team to run it back with Kirk, Jones, and Ridley in the fold. With three potential 1,000-yard receivers on the field, the Jaguars could realize their potential next season after fortifying the chemistry between QB1 and his pass catchers throughout the off-season.

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