Jacksonville Jaguars: Cat’s Scratch Free Agency Fever

After licking their wounds from the heartbreaking AFC Championship Game loss, many believed the Jacksonville Jaguars would be dormant in free agency. Especially after Blake Bortles signed a three-year, 54-million-dollar contract extension. There didn’t appear much money was left in their budget to be a serious game player. That couldn’t be further from the truth as a succession of transactions transformed the offense in what could be one of the conference’s top units.

Allen Robinson bolts

What came as a surprise to many, the Jaguars would not apply the franchise tag to ‘ARob’ thus allowing their former number 1 receiver to seek other employment. And find it he did as he packed his 202 receptions, 2,848 yards, 14 YPR along with 22 touchdowns and headed to the Windy City.

The Jag’s search was on to find his heir-apparent.

Donte Moncrief to the rescue?

Photo courtesy Colts.com

Photo courtesy Colts.com

The former Indianapolis Colts third round wideout from Ole’ Miss signed a one-year ‘prove it’ contract going the way of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith of 2017. How this story plays out remains to be seen.

Although one may not think this immediately, there are several similarities between Moncrief and Robinson physically.

Age Hgt Wgt Round Drafted
Allen Robinson 24 6’3″ 211 2nd
Donte Moncrief 24 6’2″ 216 3rd

Next, let’s check the production

Gms Rec Yds YPR TD
Allen Robinson 43 202 2798 13.9 22
Donte Moncrief 53 152 1874 12.3 18

Here is where we see the dramatic difference.

Inconsistency and injuries have plagued both players, and each has had their share of disappearing in games when your squad needed them most. Moncrief had the privilege of playing with Andrew Luck for three seasons followed by Jacoby Brissett while Robinson endured his entire tenure with Blake Bortles.

Reading the tea leaves, look for Moncrief to be the burner and for Marqise Lee to line up on the opposite side. The Jags also have two other mouths to feed with second year risers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole.

If you believe Moncrief will be a solid addition to your fantasy squad, keep in mind the inconsistency is likely to remain. He likely won’t be a plug and play receiver as his quarterback has been significantly downgraded, referring to Luck over Bortles. In addition, the Jaguars have become a run-first team which will further reduce the number of targets received.

My advice; buyer beware.

Marqise Lee Remains

The Albino Tiger has been caged and will remain in Jacksonville having signed a four-year, 34 million dollar extension with 16.5 guaranteed. Lee’s first two seasons were injury plagued, having participated in only 23 of 32 games. Yet the last two season he’s played 30 of the next 32 and has become one of their more reliable receivers.

In four seasons, Lee has compiled moderate WR2 numbers, hauling in 171 receptions for 2,166 yards while averaging 12.6 per and eight touchdowns. He failed to reach the century yardage mark in 2017, with a high of 83. Lee did have eight over 50. Concentration has always been a problem as he is a perennial leader in dropped passes.

With Moncrief now in the fold, Lee will be asked to step up his game and become the number one receiving option for what should be a run-first offense.

Leonard Fournette is Smiling

After having a productive rookie season, running back Leonard Fournette is looking to beef up his numbers from 2017 when he rushed 268 times for 1,040 yards, a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry and nine touchdowns. He also contributed 36/302/8.4/1 in the receiving department.

The biggest reason for optimism is the acquisition of the top offensive lineman in this year’s free agency, Andrew Norwell from the Carolina Panthers. A massive problem Fournette encountered last season was running between the tackles for sustained yardage. The Norwell signing was designed to address this specific problem. Norwell comes in having signed a five-year deal worth just under 67 million dollars with 30 guaranteed. In 2016, Norwell didn’t allow any sacks on Cam Newton.

Photo courtesy Panthers.com

Photo courtesy Panthers.com

Norwell is projected to man the left guard position between center Brandon Lindor and tackle Cam Robinson and turn what was a weakness last season into a strength.

ASJ finds a new home

The 6’5”, 262-pound Austin Seferian Jenkins out of Washington became a reclamation project when he took his act from Tampa Bay to Jets in 2016. Last year Jenkins had what most considered his breakout, compiling 50 receptions for 357 yards and three touchdowns. For his career, he has totaled 105/1,070/10.

Jenkins has now moved to Jacksonville; joining another newly acquired tight end Niles Paul from the Redskins. The team has since bid farewell to long time contributor Marcedes Lewis.

Thus, the tight end components have drastically changed. Jenkins will provide the pass catching chops to the offense and remains an interesting, albeit risky fantasy prospect.

Wrapping It Up

In total, the Jags have upgraded the entire offense. While the subtraction of Robinson will be a blow, the team did not have him the entire 2016 season and managed to be productive. The additions of Moncrief will compliment the already existing talents of Lee, Westbrook and Cole. The running game will be improved with the addition of Norwell along the offensive line and ASJ should  continue to rise the tight end ranks and be a lethal red zone target.

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