Current Estimated 2016 Cap Space: $75.6 million
Expected 2016 Cap Space: $92.5 million
Estimated Rookie Cap: $8.363 million
Players Under Contract: 65
Pro Bowlers: 0
Unrestricted Free Agents: 8(3 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 5
Salary Cap Breakdown
Free Agents to Re-sign
The Jaguars inexplicably spent a 3rd round pick on punter Bryan Anger back in 2012 and he is now up for a new contract. He has been one of the better punters in the NFL so it would seem clear he’ll become one of the highest paid punters in the NFL…Chad Henne seems to enjoy the role of playing mentor to the young quarterback and with hopes of improvement for the team it makes sense to keep someone considered a quality backup. Henne should continue to cost around $4 million…Andre Branch could be brought back for the right price to help on the defensive line.
Free Agents to Let Walk
The Jaguars should explore improving their offensive line in free agency which means they should let Stefen Wisniewski test free agency. He had limited interest last year so if they fail to upgrade they probably can revisit bringing him back…The fact that Marcedes Lewis lasted so long in Jacksonville shows the fierce loyalty that the team has to those in the organization, but it’s time to move on…Neither Sam Young nor Clay Harbor should be back next season.
Contracts to Modify
The jaguars could consider seeing if Zane Beadles, scheduled to earn $5.5 million, is open to taking a paycut to remain on the team.
Players to Consider Releasing
While the Jaguars have been in a position where they have had to overpay to attract free agents, the signing of Toby Gerhart was still hard to justify. He barely saw the field last season and will save the team $3.5 million when cut…Paul Posluszny has a $500,000 option due a few weeks before free agency which could give the Jaguars some consideration to releasing him. He’ll be 32 this season…Dan Skuta could be one and done. The Jaguars paid him $4.6 million last season and he barely passed the 35% playtime mark between injury and lack of impact…Releasing Chris Clemons, who will be 35, had his lowest sack total in 6 years. He is not worth the $4 million salary.
The Jaguars are in a prime salary cap position. The team possesses the most True Cap Space for 2016, the 2nd lowest Commitment Index score for 2017+ and a starting quarterback under a rookie contract for two more seasons (plus an option year). The Jaguars are in a position to spend aggressively in terms of both free agent contracts and young player extensions over the course of multiple seasons without creating an overextended cap position. With very few expected contract terminations, the team should be take steps forward in terms of roster talent without having to take any steps backward.
Expected Contract Outcomes – Expected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions. The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016. A pay cut is treated as a termination. We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options. Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.
|Player||Position||Expected Outcome||Expected Savings|
|Expected Change in Cap Room||+$16,933,256|
True Cap Space – Realizable Cap Space depicts the total amount of salary cap space potentially at the team’s disposal in 2016, and True Cap Space makes further adjustments to take into consideration amounts that are accounted for in practical terms. Most True Cap Space will be used on players currently under contract as a result of the team choosing to not release them.
|True Cap Space (2016)|
|Adjusted Salary Cap||$182,837,428|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||($15,578,176)|
|Realizable Cap Space||$167,259,252|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||($33,050,383)|
|Minimum Salary Cap Holds||($19,800,000)|
|True Cap Space||$114,408,869|
Commitment Index – Commitment Index identifies the degree to which a team has “mortgaged its future” by measuring its net future salary cap commitments as a percentage of the average net future salary cap commitments of all teams. A Commitment Index Score of 100% is average, and a negative Commitment Index Score indicates that the team has more current salary cap space than future salary cap commitments.
|Commitment Index (2017+)|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||$18,382,835|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||$9,445,255|
|Current Cap Space||($70,715,467)|
|Commitment Index Score||-248%|
|League Rank (1st = Most Committed)||31st|
The Jaguars should enter the free agent period with an amount of cap space that should be the most in NFL history. With a promising young quarterback and some skill position players in place they probably should use a good portion of it to try to upgrade the roster around those players and find a way to be more competitive next season.
The Jaguars showed a great deal of interest in Alex Mack two years ago to be their center and they should go back there again once he voids is contract. Mack won’t be cheap and could potentially push the $10 million a year mark if enough teams show interest but the Jaguars should not let price stand in their way unless the bidding moves into an absurd territory. The team should also look for a veteran swing guard if Beadles does not agree to a pay cut.
The secondary is another area in need for an upgrade. There will be a good number of solid cornerbacks available and a few high level safeties. Safety is the position where they can use an immediate starter and they would be one of the teams that I think would consider both a veteran like Eric Weddle and a young player like Tashaun Gipson. At corner they will be looking more for depth and might move to middle tier for a Patrick Robinson/Jerraud Powers type.
The team will expect a boost in their pass rush when they get Date Fowler back from injury but they won’t count on that alone. The Jaguars, given their recent history of focus on the d-line, should be willing to pay Olivier Vernon more than anyone else in the league. Vernon is just 27 and if he produces that can solidify your pass rush for years if Fowler pans out and at least give the Jaguars something if he flames out. Some lower cost players with some upside would be Vinny Curry of the Eagles and Bruce Irvin of the Seahawks. Mario Williams will also be available but I would prefer someone younger.
The team will also need to upgrade at linebacker and find more depth at defensive tackle, specifically with Sen’Derrick Marks coming off back to back years in which he ended the season on IR. These are positions better suited to the draft than free agency. Running back also fits in the same category as another young player to pair with TJ Yeldon is needed to preserve Yeldon and ensure some semblance of a rushing game if he is injured.
Because of all the cap room the Jaguars have they are in a very unique position where they can make a strong push for the best free agents, maximizing their chances in the short term, while also remaining salary cap flexible in the long term. Even if they were to use $40 million of their cap room they can put together a team that can peak for two seasons and still have no worries two years from now when their receivers and quarterbacks are all on big money contracts.
Unlike in the past the Jaguars have a significant base in place to where free agency supplements the roster and gives a team a legit chance at the playoffs. But if they can’t go out and add some significant players this season then I’m not sure they will ever be willing to take those added steps in free agency that many teams have to take to finalize a roster.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.