The Jacksonville Jaguars are banking on Trevor Lawrence leading their franchise to new heights after they assuredly select him with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. But even the most ardent Lawrence truthers know he won't ascend to the astronomical levels of greatness predicted without a lot of help. It appears the Jaguars front office got the same message.
ESPN's Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco reported the following in a recent rundown of their plans this offseason: "Expect the Jaguars to be active in free agency at receiver, though it may not be for the top-level guys." He also said the Jaguars, "should be aggressive in pursuing [Chargers TE Hunter Henry]."
While not targeting a top free-agent WR may be something of a disappointment to fans, the Henry prediction is certainly interesting and the fact that they want to add weapons to Lawrence and new coach Urban Meyer's arsenal is a clear sign of a changing mindset in Jacksonville.
Long known as a defense-first franchise, the Jaguars appear primed to enter the exciting new world of the spread NFL offense thanks to Lawrence. They took steps toward that end by drafting speedy and versatile playmaker Laviska Shenault last year to line up next to D.J. Chark, a Pro Bowl wide receiver the previous season. Running back James Robinson proved to be an undrafted diamond in the rough for the Jaguars last year, but to truly maximize Lawrence's strengths they're going to need a lot more playmakers than that. They'll also need ones with higher ceilings.
The last two winners of the Super Bowl (Chiefs and Bucs) featured six either former or current All-Pro receiving options (Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski). In 2020, the top nine scoring teams in the NFL all made the playoffs and the two teams that played in the Super Bowl (Chiefs and Bucs) had the No. 5 and 3 scoring offense in the NFL, respectively. The point is, offense matters more than ever in the modern NFL and the Jaguars are adjusting accordingly. That's because they will now have a quarterback with the arm and ability to play that kind of game in Lawrence.
There's a strong secondary market of free agent wide receivers this year including Will Fuller, Marvin Jones and JuJu Smith-Schuster. With the most cap space of any team this offseason (over $82 million), the Jaguars could sign one of those receivers and Henry with plenty left over. Team them with Lawrence and whoever else they pick in the draft and the Jaguars could completely transform their offensive identity in one offseason.
That's good news for Jaguars fans and a clear sign the franchise is ready to change its identity thanks to the man they'll select with the first pick in the draft come April.