3 Defensive FAs the Jacksonville Jaguars Should Resign

By Liam Wirsansky on February 5, 2021

With the 2021 NFL Draft quickly approaching and a wave of free agency before it, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in a prime position to make a big splash with the one of the largest salary cap spaces in the league and a solid new coaching staff, led by new HC Urban Meyer and the culture that he hopes to implement upon his arrival. With a seasoned General Manager in the newly hired Trent Baalke, the Jaguars should be positioned well to sign some of the more coveted free agents with contracts structured for a favorable release after a few years, which was previous Jaguars’ GM Dave Caldwell’s specialty. While there are many attractive players that could potentially be donning teal and black uniforms next season, the Jaguars must first identify and target these three pending defensive free agents to resign to their roster.


DE Dawuane Smoot

The Jaguars defense as a collective struggled mightily last season, breaking several records in the process for points and yards allowed. One of the key areas that they struggled with was generating pressure in the trenches, which allowed opposing quarterbacks to look like hall of fame candidates on a weekly schedule. After a season in which the Jaguars were only able to muster a mere 18 sacks, the Jaguars would be wise to resign their team’s leading sack artist in Dawuane Smoot, who registered5.5 sacks in 2020. With the return of budding star DE Josh Allen, who had a down year in his sophomore season registering only 2.5 sacks before going down with a knee injury and being placed on IR, the Jaguars still have little veteran presence along the defensive line. With a new coaching staff the team may likely change schemes and formations, but that should scare away the team from resigning Smoot to a deal. Occasionally struggling with inconveniently timed penalties, Smoot has consistently developed and improved each season primarily as a backup, while has had the chance to play alongside stars, such as DE Calais Campbell and DE Yannick Ngakoue, who are now both members of the Baltimore Ravens. Without a star studded cast to play by his side, many expected a breakout year from him, but with very little help, talent, and experience around him, Dawuane Smoot had to face more pressure and attention than ever before. Although his statistical production did not drastically improve from last season’s, Smoot has proven that he brings a layer of consistent pressure that is seen even more when he has complimentary pieces around him. Hopefully the Jaguars realize his value, and do not have to break the bank to resign their homegrown player to a shorter few year deal.

DT Abry Jones

Speaking of veteran presences across the Jaguars’ defensive line, Abry Jones has been a part of the team for what feels like forever, as he has slowly developed within the rotation and outlasted many of his former teammates. Known more for his run stuffing abilities, Jones has been one of the few players consistently apart of the team’s culture. Missing all, but five games in the 2020 NFL season, the Jaguars could feel the void his abilities and leadership left, as the Jaguars struggled to generate pressure, and struggled mightily to contain several opposing teams’ rushing attacks. While Titans’ runningback Derrick Henry seems to always have the Jaguars number (and almost every team in the league), other backs seemed to be able to pick apart and exploit the massive holes the Jaguars defense left for them for huge gains in yardage. As one of the youngest teams in the NFL by their average starting age, and continuing to build the core of their team through their massive wealth of draft capital, it is important to resign someone of Jones caliber and veteran presence, to help establish and introduce this new culture that HC Urban Meyer is looking to instill in all of his players and staff. Abry Jones is not the type of player that will command a high dollar deal, so bringing him back on a cheap deal would be smart, and more than possible after only accumulating a mere 8 total tackles last season. A one year prove it deal could be the perfect opportunity as a transitional veteran presence to assist in the development of some of the team’s rising stars.


CB Sidney Jones

With the Jaguars failing to produce consistent pressure in the trenches, the defense’s secondary were working in less than ideal circumstances most of the time, as the opposing team’s quarterback typically had a clean and long lasting pocket that allowed more plays the time they needed to develop. Wide open wide receivers became a common trend and something for fans to hang their heads down on. Composed of a heavy concentration of young and developing players, with several rookies, the group occasionally flashed the talent that got them onto the field. Perhaps the most impressive of the bunch was CB Sydney Jones, who was added to the practice squad from the Philadelphia Eagles and promoted to the Jaguars’ active roster right before the season began. A highly touted prospect coming out of college, Jones struggled to develop in Philadelphia and was given a second chance in Jacksonville, much like some of his other counterparts coming out of Philadelphia who were able to find success, like Washington Football Team CB Ronald Darby. Playing above expectations, Jones impressed with several high impact games and grades by Pro Football Focus. After the first month of the season, Jones was rated as the highest cornerback in the league with a grade of 91.9. In just nine games played Jones racked up nine passes defended, with rookie CB CJ Henderson as the next closest player in that span recording only six. Jones also finished second on the team in interceptions with two, and also recorded a forced fumble, all before being placed on IR to finish out the season. With help and a veteran presence needed in the Jaguars’ secondary, and most likely some new talent being infused into the group through the NFL Draft, the Jaguars should try their best to hold onto one of the most talented young players that they already have on the defensive side of the ball.

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