Jaguars Will Have To Overpay Until They Get Better

Find out why the Jaguars will have to use their cap space even on players who probably aren't worth it.

Building an NFL roster through free agency is usually a very pricey and usually disappointing proposition.  Most of the players available are north of 30 years old and they're trying to cash in on one last big payday which can certainly limit their motivation.  

Some of the best teams in football don't usually take part in the first few days of free agency, as that's where the priciest contracts are often distributed.  

The New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers have often abstained while the huge money is being thrown around in the beginning of March.  

They can afford to be thrifty as each team boasts a quarterback that will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.  

The Jacksonville Jaguars are not in that situation, at least not yet.  

There is no recent history of winning and although the young offense looks promising, nobody is giving Shad Khan and Dave Caldwell a "hometown discount." 

"The nature of free agency is -- you're going to overpay," Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "You want a player? You're going to have to overpay to get him, and that's just the nature of the beast. There's a talent pool, and this year there's a large pool of money, especially in North Florida."

Among the teams selecting in the Top 5 of the NFL Draft, the Jaguars probably have the fewest holes on their roster.  

That's the good news.  

The bad news is that their holes happen to be at some of the most difficult positions to find talent- pass rusher and safety- and there happens to be very few elite players at those positions that happen to hit free agency.  

Denver's Von Miller isn't going anywhere.  Once the Broncos get him locked up long-term, they will focus their efforts on signing defensive end Malik Jackson.  At safety, Eric Berry will be the biggest priority of the Kansas City Chiefs offseason and it would be somewhat of a surprise if Cincinnati's George Iloka escapes to the market.  

Without the true blue-chip type of talent on the market, teams like the Jaguars are forced to spend premium money on 30 plus year old players such as a Tamba Hali, Mario Williams or Eric Weddle, and/or take some chances with questionable character guys like Greg Hardy or Jason Pierre-Paul.  

 "The risk comes in to the type of contracts you give," Caldwell explained. "The contract structure is important so you can minimize risk. You don't mind paying them if they're playing. So you can minimize risk to a degree with the contract as long as you realize it's not a long-term fix." 

At best, roughly half of the free agent signings work out which means that a team is basically throwing away half of the money spent.  When you have a roster like the Jaguars which needs free agents to not only be starters, but team leaders, it's a risky proposition.  

The good news is that the team has one of the healthiest salary caps in the NFL and they can afford some misses.  The bad news is that this is the chance they have to take if Gus Bradley, Caldwell and everyone else in the front office are going to keep their jobs after three years of extreme losing.  

Everyone would like to build their teams through the draft and just patch some spots in free agency.  The Jaguars have to rebuild a defense in a year. 

If Blake Bortles continues to progress along with Allen Robinson, T.J. Yeldon and Allen Hurns, they may not have to be so active in free agency.  Until then, it's up to Caldwell and company to convince second-tier players to take first-tier money.  

That's the name of the free agency game. 

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