The Jacksonville Jaguars are in a weird place without a sure thing at quarterback, so should the franchise offer the farm to trade up for Tua Tagovailoa or Joe Burrow?
The skinny: The Jaguars own the No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That spot may be too far down the order to land one of the premier quarterbacks in this year’s class.
The current situation: Jacksonville has two quarterbacks who are good enough to start in Gardner Minshew, who played very well for much of his rookie season, and veteran Nick Foles, who reaped in a bountiful free-agency deal last year.
Whether either of these guys is really worthy of being called a franchise passer is up for debate, however.
- Minshew had a strong rookie season but also has limited physical skills and a lower ceiling than either Tua Tagovailoa or Joe Burrow.
- He completed 60.6% of his passes (low for today’s NFL) for 3,271 yards with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions.
- Foles was clearly overpaid in free agency. He had a magical run in Philly but has long been a journeyman backup due to his own physical limitations.
- When the Jaguars first inked Foles to his big-money deal last March, we wrote that his contract was clear proof that drafting a quarterback — not signing one in free agency — was the best way to win long term in the NFL today. That still holds true.
The competition: If the Jaguars are indeed interested in a trade up during the draft to land Tagovailoa or Burrow, they’ll be facing stiff competition. Here’s who else might be hunting for their future franchise quarterback.
- Cincinnati Bengals (No. 1 overall): Bengals are already talking up Joe Burrow and appear to be destined to stay atop the draft to land him.
- Detroit Lions (No. 3 overall): Chances are the Lions will continue to stick with Matthew Stafford. However, they’d be smart to start over from scratch (more on that here).
- Miami Dolphins (No. 5 overall): The Dolphins have already publicly thrown the gauntlet down with statements about having the draft capital to trade up if that’s what it takes to land their franchise quarterback (presumably Tua Tagovailoa).
- Los Angeles Chargers (No. 6 overall): The Chargers almost certainly will not bring Philip Rivers back, and he seems intent on moving on as well. Tyrod Taylor is there, but we’ve seen that teams aren’t sold on him to lead their offenses.
- Carolina Panthers (No. 7 overall): Rumors are flying around about Cam Newton being traded this offseason, and the Panthers will have to start over from scratch. The only reason we’re not bullish on Carolina going hard after a quarterback this year is that they could easily tank for Trevor Lawrence in 2021.
It’s pretty plain to see that the Jaguars will have a ton of competition for a quarterback this year, if they are looking for one. And looking at the cost it takes to move up into the top two in recent years, they’d be giving up an absurd amount of draft capital to leapfrog the teams below Cincinnati.
The verdict: As we mentioned in the opening statement, Jacksonville is in kind of an awkward situation with Foles still on the books for $33.9 million and Minshew showing some chops as a sixth-round rookie.
- We’ve also seen that Jacksonville has the pieces on both sides of the ball to potentially make a run at the postseason.
- The Jaguars also hired Jay Gruden to be the offensive coordinator, and it’s likely they believe he can help Minshew and/or Foles take a big step forward in 2020.
With all that in mind, and considering how much it would cost to move up from No. 9 to No. 1 or No. 2 to land Burrow or Tagovailoa (to beat the Dolphins to the punch), a trade up for one of these young stars in the making seems like a huge risk the Jaguars will not be willing to take.