3 unrestricted free agents the Jags should retain on defense

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James Johnson
·4 min read
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The Jacksonville Jaguars and Urban Meyer have a huge offseason ahead of them and it’s safe to say it will be the most important in team history. There is a lot of work to be done to improve from a team-low record of 1-15 and several offseason additions will need to be made to get the team right.

While the results were forgettable last year, there are also some players with expiring contracts who will be worth keeping on the roster. Last month, we previewed three of those players on offense, now let’s look at three unrestricted free agents on defense who the Jags could look to bring back:

DE Dawuane Smoot

Sep 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot (94) walks on the bench during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of Dawuane Smoot's future could depend on how new defensive coordinator Joe Cullen views him when it comes to being productive in the team's new scheme. If Cullen goes with a scheme similar to the one he's coming from in Baltimore, Smoot may be a player he views in the same light as Pernell McPhee, who was utilized as an interior lineman and on the exterior from two-point stance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l91AAsCrex0 Smoot was a third-round selection of the 2017 NFL Draft under Dave Caldwell. He got off to a slow start during his first few seasons but has flashed in his last two. Since 2019, he's accumulated 11.5 sacks for the Jags, and his presence will be clear when the Jags' new staff goes over the film. With the abundance of cap space the Jags have, maybe they could shoot Smoot something along the lines of a two-year deal guaranteeing around $6.5 million to $7.5 million like the one Emmanuel Ogbah is on in with Kansas City.

DE Adam Gotsis

Nov 29, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Adam Gotsis (96) on the bench during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Gotsis, who the Jags added late in the 2020 offseason, flashed at points during the season and ultimately accumulated 37 total tackles for the team throughout 14 starts. Overall, he proved to be a better player against the run than a pass rusher with a 63.1 run defense grade, according to Pro Football Focus. The Jags were putrid overall against the run, so it was easy to see Gotsis stand out when he did. It wouldn't be shocking to see the Jags' new staff being interested in retaining him after going over the film as a result. Additionally, he's a player with experience in a 3-4 defense, too, after spending time with the Denver Broncos. That would seem to indicate he has the versatility needed regardless of the Jags' scheme direction.

CB Sidney Jones IV

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Sidney Jones IV (35) upends Green Bay Packers running back Tyler Ervin (32) during the second quarter of a Week 10 NFL game on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
Usat Green Bay Packers Vs Jacksonville Jaguars 111520 1374 Ttm

Sidney Jones IV was one of the players Jags fans were excited about adding after he and the Philadelphia Eagles parted ways at the end of the preseason. The former second-round pick needed a breath of fresh air and found it in Jacksonville -- when he was available. Jones, who initially was signed to the Jags' practice squad, only played in nine games for the Jags, and six were starts. As a starter, he made plays on the ball frequently, registering 26 total tackles, nine pass breakups, and two picks. That led to him temporarily holding one of the team's highest PFF grades for multiple weeks. Unfortunately, an Achilles injury sent him to injured reserve. Even dating back to his time in Philly, his health has somewhat hindered his career, and it remains a question past 2020. He was quite impressive while on the field, so maybe a one-year prove-it deal would be a wise investment.