By Jeff Moeller
The Jaguars re-signed backup quarterback C.J. Beathard this week.
It really didn’t register any seismic shocks with Jaguars’ fans or around the league. For the Jaguars ’fans , however, it should have sent some tremors.
With the continuing emergence of starter Trevor Lawrence and his heightened presence around the league, the need for a reliable backup quarterback is vital. Over the past two years, there have been enough teams that can vouch for it.
Keep your key people. The Jags are beginning to do it.
Should Lawrence be injured for any period of time, Beathard does have the ability to take over the reins. The stay of most backup quarterbacks can be a short one, but Jags’ GM Trent Baalke and head coach Doug Pederson kept Beathard in the system. Lawrence is bound to endure more hits this coming season, as teams have to deal with his running ability as well as his RPO options.
If you take a look at the free-agent quarterbacks ready to hit the market, the Jags are in a good spot with Beathard. He has been on board with Lawrence, and the Jags should try and maintain that relationship.
With their playoff appearance last season and the decline of Tennessee, Jacksonville likely will be the favorite to win the AFC South this season. Of course, a lot will depend on the Jags’ free-agent shopping and their draft.
Since last season, Baalke has made the right choices, and he orchestrated a team that was in disarray into one that was an aligned waltz.
Baakle did resign defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris, who was a difference maker up front, and inked him to a three-year, #30 million deal. He also restructured the contract of linebacker and tackling machine Foye Oluokun and freed-up $10 million in cap space.
That’s a great sign. These Jag’s players know there is something special happening with this team. If you have a key player willing to restructure his contract, he has faith.
Robertson-Harris and Oluokon are both cornerstones for this team.
Over the next month, Baalke will be under the gun to be more creative with a list of his free agents.
His next move should be to re-sign kicker Riley Patterson, who converted 30 of 35 field goal attempts including the game-winner against the Chargers in the divisional playoff. Patterson has proved to be a reliable outlet. Patterson is an exclusive rights free agent, meaning the Jags have an excellent chance to retain him if they want.
There are others on the list such as tight end Evan Engram, who had a career year, tackle Jawaan Taylor, and defensive end Dawaune Smoot. Running back JaMycal Hasty, who was the perfect change of pace for Travis Etienne, and cornerback Tevaughn Campbell, both who are unrestricted free agents.
Keep your key people and keep building. With their AFC South crown and a playoff victory, the Jags have reached a new level.
Now, they have to keep all the key pieces in place.
(SportsDay columnist Jeff Moeller covers the NFL and other sports for the Florida Sports Wire.)