The Jacksonville Jaguars will enter the new league year with the most salary-cap space of any team in the NFL, and general manger David Caldwell's immediate plan is to fill the roster with veteran players.
Speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine, Caldwell said he would like to use some of the $74.6 million in cap room, per Spotrac, on older players who could provide experience and depth for a young Jacksonville team.
“Obviously, there is risk,” Caldwell said, per John Oehser of Jaguars.com. “Older players tend to get hurt, and they don’t play as long. But the risk comes into the type of contract you give those guys. The contract structure is important to minimize risk, and you don’t mind paying them as long as they’re playing."
The Jaguars went 5-11 last year in Gus Bradley's third season as head coach. Jacksonville's offense took a step forward in 2015, ranking 14th in the NFL in points scored after ranking dead last over the past two seasons. That offensive improvement was also evident in the play of young quarterback Blake Bortles, who threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Caldwell also praised last year's second-round pick, running back T.J. Yeldon. The former Alabama Crimson Tide ball-carrier averaged 4.1 yards per carry in 12 games last year, running for 740 yards and two touchdowns.
“We feel really good about where he's at,” Caldwell said, per Oehser. “The sky’s the limit for him coming up.”
Jacksonville's receiving duo of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns also emerged with 1,000-yard seasons. Caldwell noted, however, he expects more from young receiver Marqise Lee, who could see some more time as a slot receiver next year. Lee caught only 15 passes in 2015.
“I expect good things out of him, and our coaching staff does, too,” Caldwell said, per Oehser. “He has an element in terms of speed and explosion that he brings to our team that is hard to find and that we don’t have on our team right now.”
The Jaguars are in a unique position. They have young talent to build around and plenty of money to spend in hopes of luring key free agents to Jacksonville. With a solid offseason, the Jaguars could be one of the surprise teams in 2016.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.