Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum is coming off a season-ending ACL tear, but he still managed to find a suitor in free agency.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the former Pittsburgh Steelers tackle has agreed to a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On Monday, Josina Anderson of ESPN reported that Beachum said he was going home to Pittsburgh to evaluate his next step in free agency. Anderson also reported that the Jaguars were attempting to convince him not to leave when he was at the airport.
In something that resembled a romantic comedy movie, Anderson provided an update: “Beachum told me he was literally on the plane just now when the Jags asked if he could get off. But, door is now closed. Talks continue.”
Jacksonville’s airport-related pursuit of Beachum came after he visited with the team on Monday, per Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. The former Steelers left tackle missed the majority of the 2015 campaign after suffering a torn ACL, but O’Halloran pointed to the dwindling number of tackles on the market as a possible reason for Jacksonville's urgency.
O’Halloran listed Cordy Glenn, Mitchell Schwartz, Donald Stephenson and Bobby Massie as players no longer available and highlighted the fact that Beachum was also linked to the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets.
O’Halloran noted that the Jaguars would be looking for Beachum to compete with either starter Luke Joeckel or backup Josh Wells, but he predicted that Beachum would be likelier to fight for the backup role following his devastating knee injury.
Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country weighed in on Joeckel’s job security following the news of Beachum’s visit:
I still do think Joeckel is the planned starter for 2016, but it was always going to be a make or break year for him, because the Jaguars have to decide if they want to pick up his fifth-year option or not. So far, Joeckel hasn't played up to paying that, but he's also not been bad enough to need an immediate replacement.
Despite Joeckel's status as the entrenched starter, Beachum has established himself as a starting left tackle over the past few years, so it would make sense if he wants to remain in that position.
The Steelers drafted Beachum in the seventh round in 2012, but he worked his way into the starting lineup. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Beachum appeared in seven games with five starts in 2012 and 15 games with 12 starts in 2013 before starting all 16 contests in 2014 and all six before suffering the injury in 2015.
Matt Claassen of Pro Football Focus ranked Beachum as the third-best offensive line free agent and provided context for the elevated rating:
If not for his torn ACL, Beachum might have been even higher on this list. The former seventh-round pick was the fifth-highest graded tackle in 2014. He allowed just 19 total pressures on 687 snaps in pass protection, and his pass blocking efficiency of 97.5 ranked third among tackles that season.
The Jaguars' offensive line could use more depth, and Beachum is a proven piece in the AFC. Football Outsiders ranked Jacksonville’s line as the 16th-best run-blocking unit and 25th-best pass-blocking unit during the 2015 season.
Considering the number of offensive weapons they have—including quarterback Blake Bortles, running backs T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory, wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and tight end Julius Thomas—it's reasonable to envision a postseason run for the Jaguars in 2016 if those offensive line rankings improve.
Adding Beachum up front will help Jacksonville establish that desired consistency along the line.