The Jacksonville Jaguars surprised just about everyone when they kept seven wide receivers earlier this week while cutting the roster down from 90 players to 53.
While it seemed that Tim Jones, Parker Washington, and Elijah Cooks were among a group of receivers battling for two spots, the Jaguars elected to keep all three.
“You never really go in with a set number,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said Thursday. “Sometimes, you’re going to go heavy in one position and you go light in another one or whatever it might be. It’s just how it worked out this year and we’re excited for the seven we have with depth there and a couple on practice squad too.”
On the wrong end of the decision was Gerrit Prince. After spending his rookie year in 2022 on the practice squad, the second-year player looked like a shoo in for a roster spot as the fourth tight end. But seven wide receivers meant there was room for just three tight ends.
“Gerrit’s a good, young player,” Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke said Thursday. “He’s going to go on and do some big things in this league. It was just a numbers game. It was keep four running backs, keep seven wide receivers, or keep four tight ends.
“We went back and forth and just decided that was the best course of action knowing there was a great chance that if he wasn’t here, he’d be somewhere else.”
That proved to be the case, as Prince turned down a practice squad offer from the Jaguars to join the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad instead. But the decision ultimately came down to whether or not Jacksonville was willing to part with Cooks, an undrafted rookie who caught seven passes for 146 yards in preseason.
“I think he’s a young man that just kept showing up,” Baalke said of Cooks. “He comes to work every day, he’s got a great attitude. He’s obviously got the physical tools, he’s 6’4 plus his long arms. He’s got a great catch radius, and he was making plays.”
Will all seven receivers see much time in the regular season? So long as injuries don’t force the Jaguars’ hand, then probably not. Last year, Kendric Pryor spent the entire season as Jacksonville’s sixth wide receiver, but was a healthy scratch for almost every game and never played a snap.