Jacksonville Jaguars 2024 NFL offseason primer: Pressure's on after disappointing collapse

Jacksonville Jaguars' 2023 season: 9-8, missed playoffs

Overview: Jacksonville's season was among the most disappointing in football. The Jaguars collapsed from a 6-2 start to a 3-6 finish to fall from contention for the AFC's No. 1 seed to out of the playoffs. The ascent of Trevor Lawrence was put on pause as the third-year quarterback took a step back after playing in and winning his first career playoff game a season prior.

The Jaguars aren't blowing things up. But the pressure's on this offseason to get the franchise back on track in Lawrence's fourth NFL season. It's playoffs or bust in 2024, a prospect that will depend in part on how the Jaguars handle their offseason.

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)
(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

Key free agents

WR Calvin Ridley
WR/return specialist Jamal Agnew
K Brandon McManus
CB Tre Herndon

Who's in/out: The Jaguars have taken care of their first priority by placing the franchise tag on Josh Allen, who emerged as one of the NFL's best pass rushers at the end of his rookie contract with 17.5 sacks in 2023. He's due $24 million on the tag next season, but that could change if the sides work out a long-term deal.

Jacksonville reportedly signed guard Ezra Cleveland to a three-year, $28.5 million deal, according to NFL Network. The deal also includes $14.5 million in guaranteed money for Cleveland, who the Jaguars acquired for last season ahead of the trade deadline from the Minnesota Vikings. The Jags also traded for QB Mac Jones to back up Trevor Lawrence.

Retaining Ridley should also be a priority after he led the team in receiving yards (1,016) and touchdowns (8). But his situation is complicated by the trade parameters that landed him in Jacksonville. The Jaguars would owe the Falcons a second-round pick instead of a third in this year's draft if they extend his existing contract. Allowing him to hit free agency without an extension runs the risk of letting him walk.

Josh Allen set a franchise record for sacks in a contract year. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Josh Allen set a franchise record for sacks in a contract year. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) (Sam Greenwood via Getty Images)

Key free agent needs
Offensive line (interior)
Defensive line
Wide receiver

Why the holes? The Jaguars have locked down star guard Brandon Scherff, which at least solidifies the interior offensive line. But the team still may look to add more. With or without Ridley, the Jaguars already added WR Gabe Davis to give Lawrence a better option. The league's 26th-ranked pass defense needs help in the secondary.

Do they have the money?

They have a good amount. Per Spotrac, the Jaguars have $13.8 million in salary cap space if Allen plays on the franchise tag. Retaining Ridley would eat up a significant chunk of that remaining cap room, requiring the Jaguars to maneuver elsewhere to clear room for other priorities. Jacksonville could will have to lean on the draft to make some moves, an area where it has a shaky track record.

Potential notable cuts

WR Zay Jones

Why they might be gone: Brandon Scherff reportedly reached a deal to remain with the Jaguars on a lower cap hit, so that takes one potential cut candidate off the board. Jones tallied 321 yards and two touchdowns last season and carries an $11 million cap hit in 2024. The Jaguars reportedly released defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi on March 4 for cap savings of $3.5 million. He tallied three tackles for loss in 2023.

2023 NFLPA report card

(Yahoo Sports)
(Yahoo Sports)

Draft picks

1st round: No. 17
2nd round: No. 48
3rd round: No. 96 (compensatory)
4th round
4th round (from Saints)
5th round
6th round
6th round (compensatory)
7th round

Good draft fit

Oregon OL Jackson Powers-Johnson

Why him? At 6-3 and 320 pounds, Powers-Johnson is both a powerhouse and a tremendous athlete. He can play center or guard and would be an excellent fit for a team that desperately needs help up the middle.

What can move the fantasy football needle this offseason?

Trevor Lawrence has failed to live up to expectations, and his receiving corps could look significantly different in 2024. Calvin Ridley and Jamal Agnew are unrestricted free agents, while Zay Jones and Christian Kirk are possible cut candidates. Kirk is least likely to go and would benefit (along with Evan Engram) should Ridley leave, but many questions surround Jacksonville’s wide receivers entering free agency. Ultimately, the return of Press Taylor as offensive coordinator is significant bad news for fantasy managers, as we can expect more of the same regardless of who’s running routes in 2024. — Dalton Del Don