Starting the new season with the addition of an inexperienced head coach in Urban Meyer, Trevor Lawrence and potentially 9 other drafted rookies, it’s fair to say this team will be young and impressionable. Let’s not forget that this team drafted 12 players last year and had a mass exodus of veterans via trade or release.
Now, we all know Meyer’s previous stops are sticky with controversy and only redeemed by the blood of Tim Tebow and National Championships. Needless to say, accountability and leadership are question marks on Urban’s resume. Regardless, the guy wins and thats what Jacksonville is looking for.
Help from a locker room presence, in addition to the impact on the field, could tremendously help guide and focus a young roster. At the very least, this would ease the mind of Urban Meyer. This piece is not talking about the most talented free agents available, this is which free agent(s) could fill a much needed leadership hole.
Who do the Jags have?
Nobody, really. There are not many players that I would consider to be serious veteran leaders. Myles Jack played in the team’s last playoff game. Joe Schobert is a veteran, but I would imagine more of a presence and vocal leadership for this role and I’m not sure Schobert commands that sort of presence. The Jaguars do have a few veteran offensive lineman, such as Brandon Linder and Andrew Norwell – but typically O-lineman tend to be more leaders amongst themselves, oddly. The big fellas tend to be the chill, laidback, hunter/fisherman type. Typically you can find a lineman on a boat or at a buffet…you know I’m right.
Who is on the Free Agent Market.
There isn’t a perfect recipe for a veteran free agent as far as character goes. You can be an asshole and still lead and get the job done. The fact that the veteran asshole is in gear and staying focused may cause others to be focused and step up. You could be a quiet veteran who works hard on the field and in the community. You can be the biggest, most dominant player on the field but have the kindest heart and be the most approachable person. Like Calais Campbell. You could also have the shit slapped out of your before the game just to set the mood for the entire team. The main characteristics for a veteran free agent is team focused, dependable, championship driven and willing to mentor.
Shaquil Barrett– This veteran is a Super Bowl champion and has been a sponge for information during his career. Learning early from the dominant Von Miller has really helped him transition to Tampa Bay and dominate in his own right. Barrett played under the franchise tag this year and didn’t say a peep about it. Despite the negatives that come along with the franchise tag and the fact that Barrett hasn’t seen his big pay day yet, he still showed up and is now a champion. This type of leadership should be handsomely rewarded. The Jags could use the confidence and humbleness (not to mention the elite pass rush) of Shaq Barrett.
JuJu Smith- Schuster– Yes, the same Juju that does the TicTok dances. Yes, the same Juju that went to a high school prom and incited a “F*** AB” chant. Speaking of AB, Juju watched first hand the demise of Antonio Brown after Juju won team MVP in 2018. Smith-Schuster is a great teammate, unselfish on the field and knows what it takes to win. He has shared the spotlight and would be an excellent pair with the young receivers in Jacksonville.
Matthew Judon– Judon could provide some much needed knowledge for a young Jaguars defensive line. Judon played for new Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. That relationship alone could bring connections from Cullen and other defensive players.
Patrick Peterson– The most veteran of all the possibilities. Jacksonville could use the prolific Pat P’s talents on the field. The respect for this man around the league speaks for itself. He would be the same leader for the Jags as he would be for the Kansas City Chiefs or the Tampa Bay Bucs. That’s the expected consistency that you hope for in veteran leadership.
Marcus Maye– With so many good safeties in this free agency, Marcus Maye brings a lot to the table. This guy is a baller and a sleeper. He’s such a baller that the Jets said they will consider franchise tagging him. Though he is often under talked about, I personally think he’s ready to win elsewhere. Believe it or not, there is a lot of leadership value in going through losses.
Jonnu Smith– The Jags have pathetically addressed the tight end position since cutting 10 year vet Mercedes Lewis after the 2017 playoff run. Since cutting Lewis, the Jags might as well have lined up without a TE. At this point, any experienced tight end immediately adds value to the position room.
Alex Smith– Smith has indicated he desires to start in the NFL again. I imagine most teams do not believe that to be the case. They also may be hesitant to even take on such an injury liability. Talk about leadership. This guy won comeback player of the year after some doctors thought his leg was so damaged that it may need to be amputated. Along with his determination, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. Did I mention the former 1st overall pick also helped put Urban Meyer’s name on the map during his college career at Utah?
So who do we need?
The Jags do not need all of these guys, maybe one or two additions. There are a few other veterans who could supply this need as well. The Jags did miss out on JJ Watt but he wears beanies when he works out, so that’s ok. It is a fact, however, this team will require some leadership if it wants to ascend into a playoff contender in the next couple of years.
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