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On The Clock: Jacksonville Jaguars 2016 Offseason Preview

In his “On the Clock” series, NFL analyst Brett Casella (@NFL_iQ on Twitter) will take an in-depth look at all 20 teams that failed to make the playoffs as they head into the 2016 offseason. He will conduct a thorough examination of each roster and make recommendations on whom to cut and re-sign, as well as which players to target through free agency and the draft.

This article will focus on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

2015 Record: 5-11
Draft Pick: #5

 

Season Summary

BlakeBortlesThe Jacksonville Jaguars finished the 2015 season with a 5-11 record; two games better than their 3-13 campaign the prior year. While a two game improvement seems marginal, last season was actually a huge step forward for the Jaguars franchise, and provided a lot of hope for the team and their fans moving forward.

After struggling as a rookie, Blake Bortles really stepped his game up last year. He tossed the pigskin for more than 4,400 yards, 35 touchdowns, and proved to the front office that he could be their franchise quarterback. Wide receivers Allen Robinson (80-1,400-14) and Allen Hurns (64-1,031-10) had big years, and rookie RB T.J. Yeldon didn’t disappoint as a rookie. All in all, there is a lot of reason for optimism for this team, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Re-Signings & Cuts

Remember in the 2012 draft when the Jaguars selected punter Bryan Anger ahead of Russell Wilson? Well, his contract has now expired, and after blossoming into one of the better punters in the league, the Jaguars should look to extend him for the foreseeable future – at least it wasn’t a total waste of a pick.

Chad Henne is one of the good backup quarterbacks in a league with few of them, and has provided a mentor role for the young Bortles. The Jaguars should do what they can to re-sign him for a modest price.StefenWisniewski

They should also make it a priority to re-sign Center Stefan Wisniewski. He signed a one-year deal with them last year and was by far the best player on their offensive line.

The Jaguars two biggest candidates to be cut are RB Toby Gerhart and DE Chris Clemons. Clemons is a 34-year old pass rushing specialist who only recorded three sacks all of last year. Toby Gerhart has rushed for a putrid 370 yards at 3.1 YPC in his two years in Jacksonville. Letting both of these players go will add $7.5 million to their already massive amount of cap space.

OG Zane Beadles is slated to make $5.5 million next year, despite sub-par play. Jacksonville may tell him to take a pay cut, or get cut.

Free Agency Needs

The Jaguars are poised to enter free agency with the most cap space in NFL history. If they do in fact let go of Clemons and Gerhart, they will have $87 million to spend. With that kind of money, they could quickly turn their team from the laughing stock of the NFL into a legitimate playoff contender.

When it comes to offensive skill positions, the Jaguars are as well off as any team in the league. If anything, they may look to bring in a big, bruising running back to complement the smaller T.J. Yeldon. Chris Ivory, LaGarrette Blount, and Alfred Morris all fit that description.

What really needs work is their defense and offensive line. If they can’t re-sign Stefen Wisniewski, expect them to make a run at Alex Mack. Other interior offensive linemen that may draw interest include Richie Incognito, Brandon Brooks, Alex Boone, and Evan Mathis.

WilkersonOn the defensive side, Jacksonville needs help on all three levels. If Muhammad Wilkerson doesn’t get tagged, the Jaguars are one of the few teams that will be able to pay the salary he will demand. Other big-name guys they could target on the defensive line include Malik Jackson, Damon Harrison, and Olivier Vernon.

Keep an eye on Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin, who may look to reunite with his former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan are two other intriguing linebackers.

For the secondary, safeties Eric Berry, Eric Weddle, and Tashaun Gipson could all provide a big boost, as well as cornerbacks Sean Smith, Prince Amukamara, and Janoris Jenkins.

Potential Draft Picks

There is a wealth of players that can improve the Jacksonville defense that could be available at the number five spot, but the Jaguars may opt to protect their franchise QB by drafting Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley. Other first round options are Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, Vernon Hargreaves, and Myles Jack. Any of these players will be a day-one starter on a defense that desperately needs it.RonnieStanley

In the second round, Jacksonville may look to solidify the interior of their offensive line. Alabama’s Ryan Kelly and Kansas State’s Cody Whitehair would do just that. They could also look to add a third receiver to their already potent offense, such as Sterling Shepard, Tyler Boyd, or Michael Thomas. Or, perhaps they turn to the defensive end position and add Emmanuel Ogbah or Shilique Calhoun. With Dante Fowler coming back next year on the other side, they could construct a pair of great young pass rushers.

Have any questions, comments, or just want to talk about the article? Then leave a comment below!

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