Week That Was: Flexibility for the future

Cleveland Browns middle linebacker Joe Schobert (53) returns an interception during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns middle linebacker Joe Schobert (53) returns an interception during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

JACKSONVILLE – Flexibility is the watchword for the Jaguars' 2020 offseason.

They worked this week to build it on multiple fronts as the 2020 NFL League Year approached, and Thursday's free-agent and trade announcements made it official:

The Jaguars have a lot of draft capital.

And their salary-cap situation is improving, too.

All that means more flexibility moving forward, which was General Manager David Caldwell's message late this week after the team announced the trades of veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye and veteran defensive end Calais Campbell.

"By trading A.J. Bouye and Calais Campbell, we not only added two more selections in the 2020 NFL Draft, but also created cap space flexibility to put ourselves in a better position to make strategic roster moves during the current free-agency window," Caldwell said in a statement.

The Jaguars traded Bouye to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft and traded Campbell to the Baltimore Ravens for a fifth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Those are the only two '20 league year trades the Jaguars had announced as of late Friday morning.

The Bouye and Campbell trades mean the Jaguars officially have 11 selections in the 2020 NFL Draft: two in the first round (No. 9, No. 20), one in the second (No. 42), one in the third (No. 73), two in the fourth (No. 116, No. 137), two in the fifth (No. 157, No. 165), two in the sixth (No. 189, No. 206) and one in the seventh (No. 223).

The No. 20 overall selection in Round 1 came from the Los Angeles Rams as part of the trade for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, with the No. 137 selection coming from the Broncos for Bouye and the No. 157 selection coming from the Ravens for Campbell. The No. 206 selection came from the Seattle Seahawks as part of a draft-day trade last offseason. The No. 165 selection came from the Rams as part of the trade for defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., and the Jaguars traded their own fifth-round selection to the Pittsburgh Steelers for quarterback Josh Dobbs.

"With more draft capital, we'll be prepared to acquire new players via trade or in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft in April," Caldwell said. "The acquisitions that we add to our team via free agency and the draft will complement the weapons that we already have on our roster, which allows our coaches and scouts to look at all opportunities to put the best possible team on the field in 2020 and beyond."

NOT DONE YET

Doug Marrone likes the early offseason moves, and the Jaguars' head coach told jaguars.com Thursday he particularly likes that newly-signed middle linebacker Joe Schobert will strengthen two positions on what was a struggling run defense last season by allowing veteran linebacker Myles Jack to move from the middle to the weak side. Marrone, too, said he likes what defensive tackle Rodney Gunter brings to the interior run defense – and as a pass rusher. But Marrone said those moves are just part of the offseason plan. "I still think we have a long way to go," Marrone said. "We still have some challenges. Obviously, we have a lot of draft picks. We have to do a good job there. Free agency isn't over yet. We're still looking to fill some spots and we're still looking at some things from the offensive side, too. We're looking at every single position." And while moves such as trading Campbell and Bouye will mean a younger team, Marrone said he's OK with that – and that he has a good feeling about the makeup of the team. "We'll have some young guys in this locker room, guys that love to play football, that don't have a lot of drama going on, that are focused on winning football games, that are good teammates," Marrone said. "I'm excited about that. Talking to some of our players, they're excited too."

QUOTABLE

Marrone on signing high-character players in free agency: "It's what type of culture or what type of locker room that you want to give players a chance to cultivate. You don't want to be selfish. You want to be team-oriented. You want to do everything you can to win. You want to be a professional. We say these things all the time: We don't want a lot of drama being brought in. We don't want to be complaining about things we can't control. You really just want a collaborative type of environment where the single focus is just winning football games."

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