The Jaguars took over the early stages of the 2022 free agent market, doling out big contracts to infuse a downtrodden team with talent. Those moves made a significant impact, helping key a surprise run to the divisional round. Money is tighter this year, and the Jags retaining their own might be the mission.
Interested in re-signing Evan Engram, the Jaguars also will have an opportunity to retain Jawaan Taylor. Jacksonville’s right tackle starter since he was drafted in the 2019 second round, Taylor said he wants to remain with the team. The 25-year-old blocker has never missed a game as a pro.
“Most definitely,” Taylor said, via the Florida Times-Union’s Tim Walters, on the subject of another Jaguars deal. “That’s the team that took the chance on me in the draft, and I’ve been there playing for four seasons now and I’m close to home. I’m two hours away from home, so being able to come back and play for Duval will be a lot of fun, so hopefully that will work out for me.”
After holding extensive cap space in 2022, the Jags are currently over the $224.8MM salary ceiling. Jacksonville is over by a substantial margin — $22MM-plus — and will need to make some roster moves to comply with the 2023 cap ahead of the new league year, which begins March 15. Taylor will likely be a player the Jags consider re-signing, given his consistent role on the despite the run of coaching changes. But a few complications exist.
Unlike Engram, however, this regime did not sign off on acquiring Taylor. The Trent Baalke–Doug Pederson duo signed Engram to a one-year deal in 2022; Taylor arrived during the Tom Coughlin–Dave Caldwell–Doug Marrone years. Pro Football Focus has never viewed Taylor as a plus option at tackle, slotting him in the bottom quartile at the position this year (69th overall) and never ranking him inside the top 40. An Engram franchise tag, which would be the fourth tight end tag over the past two offseasons, could also tie up Jags funds.
Working under Urban Meyer during the 2021 draft, Baalke was with the team when it drafted Walker Little in the second round. Little finished the season as the starting left tackle, after Cam Robinson went down. Taylor beat out Little for the right tackle job in training camp last year. The Jags have Trevor Lawrence tied to a rookie contract — for one more year, at least — but Robinson is already signed to an upper-echelon tackle deal (three years, $52.75MM). No team tied to a top-10 left tackle contract also has a high-end right tackle deal on its payroll.
Spotrac slots Taylor in position to command a $12MM-per-year pact, so his market will be worth monitoring. While the Browns’ Jack Conklin extension took a right tackle option off the free agency board, blockers like Mike McGlinchey and Kaleb McGary are on track to be available. It will be interesting to see how teams value Taylor, should the Jags pass on an extension ahead of the legal tampering period.