Jaguars Rumors

Trade Market, Draft Factored Into Jaguars’ Christian Kirk Signing

The Jaguars shocked the NFL world with a four-year, $72MM deal for Christian Kirk, but the former Cardinals receiver checked a lot of boxes the team sought this offseason.

Kirk’s speed profile, durability and being 25 — an age the Jags believed would allow him to grow and develop alongside Trevor Lawrence — made him appealing for the rebuilding team, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports notes.

Only one Jaguar pass catcher (D.J. Chark) has topped 1,000 yards since the team’s tag team of Allens (Hurns, Robinson) each did so in 2015. While Chark narrowly got there (1,008 yards) alongside Gardner Minshew and was coming off a season-ending broken ankle, Doug Pederson still expressed interest in re-signing the former second-round pick. But on Day 1 of the legal tampering period, the Jags handed out contracts to Kirk and Zay Jones on a big-spending day for the franchise. That led Chark to Detroit.

Of course, Kirk’s next 1,000-yard season will be his first. That helped lead to the surprise factor when he inked his deal, which is effectively a two-year, $37MM agreement. Kirk has been a nice addition for Jacksonville thus far, having caught 20 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns through four games.

Flush with cap space, the Jags decided to make their No. 1 receiver bet in free agency. Jacksonville’s draft position and uncertainty of landing a top weapon in a trade factored into this decision. The team viewed its draft position — Nos. 1 and 33 at the draft’s outset — as unideal to land a wideout that would be ready to contribute immediately, Jones adds, and it was not especially high on Amari Cooper. The Jags were involved in the Cooper sweepstakes, but considering the Browns acquired him for a fifth-rounder and a sixth-round pick swap, it is clear the AFC South team was not offering much.

Kirk’s contract helped drive the receiver market’s ensuing boom; 11 wideouts have since passed or matched Kirk’s $18MM-AAV accord. This makes the Jags’ thinking somewhat prescient. The Jags expected Samuel to score a payday north of $20MM per year, Jones adds. Samuel reached $23.85MM per annum during an offseason that also saw Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin, Brandin Cooks and Diontae Johnson surpass Kirk’s contract between free agency’s outset and the preseason. The run of big-ticket wideout deals led to Kirk’s AAV dropping from seventh to 18th at the position.

Another team was prepared to offer Kirk $13MM per year, but Jones adds that squad was quickly told it was not in the ballpark. The Eagles pursued Kirk briefly but were not prepared to go near where the Jaguars did for the ex-Cardinal second-rounder. Philly soon pivoted to Allen Robinson but saw the Rams blow that offer away, leading the Eagles to set the market for fully guaranteed money by trading for Brown and giving him $56MM at signing. The Jaguars’ focus on landing a high-end target in free agency helped lead to the domino effect that sent Brown to Philly.

QB Blake Bortles Announces Retirement

Blake Bortles is not planning to continue his efforts at returning to a team’s active roster. The former No. 3 overall pick announced his retirement during an appearance on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast.

The longtime Jaguars starter has not played in a regular-season game since the 2019 season, when he appeared in three as Jared Goff‘s backup with the Rams. But he has bounced around the league in the years since, last being with a team in April. The Saints released Bortles at that point, and the former AFC championship game starter said during the podcast he has not touched a football since January.

Since his 2019 Rams signing, Bortles caught on with the Broncos and Packers and also circled back to the Rams. He finished his career as a Saints emergency roster option, amid the team’s COVID-19 surge during the Omicron variant’s height. Mostly from his rookie contract and the three-year, $54MM extension he signed with the Jaguars in 2018, Bortles walks away from the game having made more than $47MM. The Jags bailing on that deal after one season, however, abruptly ended the oft-scrutinized passer’s run as a starter.

The Central Florida product started 73 career games, and while he ended up being benched months after signing that extension, the former Doug Marrone pupil had Jacksonville on the cusp of a Super Bowl LII berth. Bortles threw for 293 yards in a narrow AFC championship game loss in New England, doing so after the Jaguars won a divisional-round shootout in Pittsburgh.

Despite having chosen Blaine Gabbert in the top 10 three years prior, the Jags went back to the Round 1 QB well with Bortles, who came off the 2014 board far earlier than his QB contemporaries — in a class that included Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr. Numerous The Good Place references aside, Bortles frequently drew criticism during his rocky Jags tenure. Working with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, Bortles finished the 2015 season with 35 touchdown passes. But the Jags went 5-11 that year; Bortles then struggled in 2016. He threw 51 interceptions from 2014-16, but the team nevertheless stuck with its starter — as Marrone replaced Gus Bradley as HC– leading to a 2017 outlier season that nearly produced one of the most unlikely Super Bowl entrants in the game’s history.

Jacksonville assembled a strong defense in 2017 — one that led the league in DVOA and lived up to its “Sacksonville” nickname — helping the team to a 10-6 record and the AFC title game. The Jags could not sustain that formula in 2018 and began a decline that led to their talented defense splintering and, eventually, the Urban Meyer year. The Jags released Bortles in March 2019, taking on $16.5MM in dead money as they pivoted to one-and-done option Nick Foles. Bortles concludes his career with 103 touchdown passes and 75 interceptions; his 17,646 passing yards are second-most (behind Mark Brunell) in Jags history.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/1/22

Today’s minor moves around the league, including practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s action:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

2022 NFL Cap Space, By Team

As we exit September, trade rumors will become a steady NFL topic. This year’s deadline falls on Nov. 1. That will return cap-space discussions to the forefront. Here is how every team stacks up financially going into October, via Over The Cap.

  1. Cleveland Browns: $35.94MM
  2. Philadelphia Eagles: $10.89MM
  3. Denver Broncos: $10.67MM
  4. Carolina Panthers: $10.47MM
  5. Las Vegas Raiders: $10.35MM
  6. Dallas Cowboys: $9.25MM
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers: $8.64MM
  8. Green Bay Packers: $8.57MM
  9. Indianapolis Colts: $7.97MM
  10. Atlanta Falcons: $7.92MM
  11. New York Jets: $6.97MM
  12. Chicago Bears: $6.84MM
  13. San Francisco 49ers: $6.75MM
  14. Miami Dolphins: $6.51MM
  15. Arizona Cardinals: $6.25MM
  16. Los Angeles Chargers: $5.83MM
  17. New York Giants: $5.49MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $5.41MM
  19. Los Angeles Rams: $5.38MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $4.51MM
  21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $3.87MM
  22. New England Patriots: $3.5MM
  23. Cincinnati Bengals: $3.16MM
  24. New Orleans Saints: $2.86MM
  25. Detroit Lions: $2.64MM
  26. Washington Commanders: $2.58MM
  27. Buffalo Bills: $2.44MM
  28. Tennessee Titans: $2.41MM
  29. Seattle Seahawks: $2.28MM
  30. Kansas City Chiefs: $2.12MM
  31. Houston Texans: $1.64MM
  32. Minnesota Vikings: $1.47MM

The Eagles’ number is certainly far closer to the Vikings’ last-place figure than what the Browns have stockpiled. Cleveland would stand to have room to augment its 2022 roster, via a patient free agent or a trade. That could depend on where Jacoby Brissett has the team stationed going into the Nov. 1 deadline. But the Browns also appear to be preparing for their Deshaun Watson future. Watson’s unprecedented contract spikes from a $9.4MM cap number (2022) to a record-shattering $54.99MM numbers from 2023-26. As that reality awaits, the Browns rolling over cap space to 2023 would be prudent.

With Sterling Shepard‘s ACL tear moving the veteran wide receiver to IR, the Giants will need to both cover that cost ($6.3MM) and add a contract to fill the roster spot. Every team will go through versions of that issue this season, as injuries pile up. The Giants are prepared to eat a significant chunk of Kenny Golladay‘s 2022 base salary ($13MM) to move him, eyeing an escape from his $4.5MM 2023 guarantee. No takers have emerged, though it will be interesting to see if a market for the former Pro Bowler forms once injuries affect more teams’ receiver situations.

Since their Jimmy Garoppolo restructure, the 49ers agreed to a two-year extension with Dre Greenlaw. The team is not expected to extend Nick Bosa until 2023, however. The Texans, Falcons, Bears and Eagles all sit north of $60MM in dead money, meaning more than a quarter of their respective cap space is tied to players no longer on the roster. Watson, Matt Ryan and Khalil Mack are responsible for massive dead-money hits on the Houston, Atlanta and Chicago payrolls. Philadelphia still has Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson and Brandon Brooks dead money on its cap sheet.

AFC Workouts: Texans, Nsekhe, Blankenship

The Texans are bringing in a pair of running backs for workouts Thursday, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. With starting rookie Dameon Pierce dealing with a hip injury this week, Houston invited Abram Smith and Ty’Son Williams in for workouts.

Smith is an undrafted rookie out of Baylor who converted from linebacker to running back in 2020. The Texans got a look at him some weeks ago when he played against them as a member of the Saints in the preseason. He led the Saints that day with 30 rushing yards on seven carries. Smith also worked out for the Seahawks yesterday, likely a result of Seattle placing running back Travis Homer on injured reserve.

Williams is a former Raven who came into the league after going undrafted in 2020. He spent much of his time on the practice squad but got the opportunity to start for Baltimore when injuries landed J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill all on injured reserve. He eventually was supplanted by free agent additions such as Le’Veon Bell and Latavius Murray.

The hope for Texans fans is that the workouts are solely precautionary measures that don’t speak to the injury status of Pierce, who had a strong outing last week.

Here are a few other workouts from around the league:

  • The Ravens reportedly worked out offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe yesterday, according to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus. Nsekhe has been a long-time backup tackle in the league, spending time with St. Louis, Washington, Buffalo, and Dallas since going undrafted back in 2009. The 36-year-old tackle has appeared in 93 games over his career and started 17. He has never served as a full-time starter and all but one of his starts came in Washington. The Ravens are getting desperate at tackle, once again. Star blindside blocker Ronnie Stanley still has not returned from an injury sustained in November 2020. The player meant to fill in until his return, Ja’Wuan James, had their season ended with a torn Achilles in the season opener. They replaced James with their sixth-man of the offensive line, utility lineman Patrick Mekari, but he left last week’s game against the Patriots with a low ankle sprain. Mekari may be able to recover quickly, but, in the meantime, the Ravens have two healthy tackles on the depth chart: free agent addition Morgan Moses and rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Faalele. If Nsekhe can earn a contract, he’ll be a much needed depth addition at tackle.
  • Former Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship worked out with a team yesterday for the first time since he was waived by Indianapolis, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. He and veteran kicker Sam Ficken worked out for the Jaguars, who currently roster second-year kicker Riley Patterson. After two full seasons with the Colts that turned out middling results, Blankenship was waived after he kicked two kickoffs out of bounds and missed a potential game-winner in overtime of the team’s season-opening tie. Patterson, on the other hand, hasn’t given Jacksonville any reason to search for his replacement yet. In three games with the team, Patterson has converted seven of eight field goal attempts, including a 52-yarder, and all seven extra point attempts. He’s showing continued success from his rookie season, in which he played seven games for the Lions and made 13 of his 14 field goal attempts and all 16 extra points.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/27/22

Here are Tuesday’s practice squad additions and subtractions:

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

  • Signed: CB Ryan Smith
  • Released: LB Forrest Rhyne

Jacksonville Jaguars

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Carter spent last season as a full-time Panthers starting linebacker, but after signing a one-year deal with the Chiefs, the vested veteran could not make his new team’s 53-man roster. The former fifth-round pick has 30 career starts. The Browns just lost linebacker starter Anthony Walker for the season.

An NFLer since 2017, Hollister signed with the Raiders this offseason. But the team released him from IR via settlement earlier this month. Hollister, who caught six touchdown passes with the Seahawks from 2019-20, spent last season with the Jaguars.

Smith, 29, spent five years with the Buccaneers, ending that run as a backup cornerback and special-teamer for Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV-winning team. A starter for the 2017 and ’18 Bucs, Smith played in four Chargers games last season.

Titans Sign DL Mario Edwards Jr. Off Jaguars Practice Squad

The Titans have snagged a veteran defensive lineman off a division rival’s practice squad. The team announced that they’ve signed Mario Edwards Jr. off the Jaguars’ practice squad and on to their 53-man roster. To make room, the Titans waived linebacker Derrek Tuszka.

Edwards has never lived up to his second-round billing, but the defensive lineman has still seen time in 86 games across seven professional seasons. The veteran spent the previous two seasons with the Bears, collecting six sacks despite only starting one of his 27 appearances. He was released by Chicago at the end of the preseason and subsequently joined Jacksonville’s practice squad.

The 28-year-old won’t knock Jeffery Simmons out of the starting defensive tackle spot, but he’ll provide some additional pass-rushing prowess along the defensive line. His ability to play defensive end could also help him see some defensive snaps.

Tuszka was claimed off waivers from the Steelers in early September, and after being inactive through the first two weeks, he earned a start on Sunday with Bud Dupree and Ola Adeniyi sidelined.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/12/22

Today’s practice squad moves from around the NFL:

Atlanta Falcons

Chicago Bears

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Tennessee Titans

NFL Workouts: DT Corey Peters, CB Jimmy Moreland

Two teams looked at some veteran free agents in the week leading up to the season opener:

  • With top run-stopper Folorunso Fatukasi being limited in practice all week going into the first game of the season, the Jaguars decided to audition another defensive tackle in veteran Corey Peters on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Peters has spent all of his 11-year career with two teams after being drafted by the Falcons and spending the past six seasons with the Cardinals. When healthy, he’s been a strong starter and a reliable contributor for both squads. Unfortunately for Peters, Fatukasi ended up being just well enough to play against the Commanders in Jacksonville’s season opener, so Peters’ talents were not necessary.
  • The Saints went into Week 1 of the season with three healthy cornerbacks as last year’s impressive rookie, Paulson Adebo, remains out with an ankle injury suffered in practice and cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson was surprisingly traded a little under two weeks ago. In response, the team worked out veteran Jimmy Moreland on Thursday, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Moreland has spent time in Philadelphia, Houston, and Washington, where he started 10 games in his first two seasons. Ultimately, New Orleans passed on his services, deciding to depend on a combination of Marshon Lattimore, Bradley Roby, P.J. Williams, and Alontae Taylor on defense.

2022 Offseason In Review Series

This season will feature 12 new Week 1 starting quarterbacks, though the Jets’ decision is the result of an injury rather than a roster move. High-profile wide receivers also changed teams, igniting one of the biggest market shifts a single position has seen. The Offseason In Review series is now complete. Here are the PFR staff’s looks at how the 32 NFL teams assembled their 2022 rosters.

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West