SI: Jaguars among ‘least improved teams’ entering 2024

The Jaguars guaranteed a combined $188 million to veteran players this offseason by extending franchise edge rusher Josh Allen and signing eight free agents, before making nine selections in the 2024 NFL draft, most notably including wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. in the first round.

But, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, that might not have been enough to steer Jacksonville back toward postseason action in 2024.

The Jaguars were Breer’s choice as the least-improved team in the NFL this offseason, with fellow SI writers, Matt Verderame picking the Denver Broncos, Gilberto Manzano choosing the Minnesota Vikings and Conor Orr opting for the Dallas Cowboys.

“I was bullish on the Jags as a Super Bowl darkhorse last year, and that didn’t work out. And I think, on a few fronts, they spun their wheels this offseason preparing to open the vault for Trevor Lawrence,” Breer wrote.

“They swapped out Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones for Brian Thomas Jr. and Gabe Davis. They signed Darnell Savage, who Green Bay replaced with Xavier McKinney, to take Rayshawn Jenkins’s spot. I like Arik Armstead on the defensive line, and Mitch Morse and Ezra Cleveland on the offensive line, but I’m not sure, especially given the age of Armstead and Morse, how much those additions move the needle.

“What makes Jacksonville’s offseason worse is how aggressive the other teams in the AFC South were in building around their young quarterbacks. That, of course, all puts a little more on Lawrence to make up the difference. I think he’s capable of elevating to the next level. But it’s tough being in a position where you need that to happen.”

The Jaguars finished with a 9-8 record for the second consecutive campaign in 2023. But unlike Jacksonville’s exciting run to the AFC Divisional Round the year before, they were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 18 last season, making this offseason critical as the team hopes to maximize Lawrence’s rookie contract.

Accordingly, Jacksonville prioritized acquiring seasoned veterans like Armstead, Morse, Davis and Savage, along with cornerback Ronald Darby and wide receiver/return specialist Devin Duvernay. Each player should occupy a starting role with the Jaguars in 2024 and potentially beyond.

After taking Thomas on Day 1, the Jaguars picked defensive lineman Maason Smith, cornerback Jarrian Jones, offensive tackle Javon Foster, nose tackle Jordan Jefferson, cornerback Deantre Prince, running back/return specialist Keilan Robinson, kicker Cam Little and edge rusher between the second and seventh rounds of the NFL draft in April.

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Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire