After starting the 2013 season with a 0-8 record, the Jaguars looked destined to make a run at a 0-16 record. In fact, the discussion around the team was mostly centered on potentially being labeled as the worst team in NFL history.
Fortunately for the Jags, any “worst team ever” talk ended in the second half of the season with Jacksonville finishing 4-12. Still, there was plenty of room for improvement heading into the offseason, and to general manager David Caldwell’s credit, the team hasn’t been sitting on its mountain of salary cap space idly watching the rest of the league claim players on the open market.
Jacksonville got off to a quick start when free agency opened at 4 pm on Tuesday evening. Since then, the Jaguars have inked OG Zane Beadles, RB Toby Gerhart and LB Dekoda Watson on top of signing DE Red Bryant last weekend. As of the time of writing this, the Jaguars are scheduled to meet with Ziggy Hood, Emmanuel Sanders and are courting Chris Clemons.
That’s a lot of moves and potential moves for a team supposed to perpetually stay at the bottom of the league.
For Jaguars fans, the moves have to be encouraging, but we’ve seen mediocre teams swing for the fences before. Just because the Jags are making plenty of moves doesn’t guarantee success in the future. In any case, action is needed for improvement, and in that regard, Jacksonville is at least trying to get better.
Going into free agency, the Jaguars’ biggest concerns were with their offensive and defensive lines. Offensively, Beadles is a good start, but the Jags still have holes in the middle of their line. Defensively, free agency has helped bolster a weak Jaguars defensive front, but it’s difficult to tell whether those improvements will result in a better pass rush on game day.
Aside from free agency, the draft will give the Jaguars another shot to gain ground on the rest of the league. With the third overall pick, Jacksonville can chase a franchise quarterback or pick up a player that should instantaneously improve their team. Re-signing Chad Henne, a move made in the days leading up to the opening of free agency, gave Jacksonville options in the draft they didn’t have before locking Henne down. With a veteran ready to take snaps, the team can postpone drafting a quarterback until the second or third round, giving them the ability to draft an impact player with the third overall selection.
There’s still plenty of ground to cover for the Jaguars, but they’re heading in the right direction. Then again, it would have been nearly impossible for them to go the wrong way, especially with about $50 million in cap space heading into the open market. In a weak division, the Jags could be competitive if their offseason moves pay off. For now, they’re just trying to add talent to their own pool. In that regard, they’re at least making an effort to move towards success.