Replacing Julius Thomas For The Jacksonville Jaguars

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The Jacksonville Jaguars have a few positions to stock up on in this year’s free agency and draft. A major position that is a necessity is the tight end position. When the Jaguars traded tight end Julius Thomas to the Miami Dolphins in February, they lost a key piece of their offense. Thomas was misused last season, and the results proved that. Quarterback Blake Bortles only targeted Thomas on short passes when the Jaguars were near the goal line, and often times on short throws to gain first downs. Though Thomas’s numbers didn’t prove his worth with the team, he still could have been used in a bigger role.

Replacing Julius Thomas for the Jacksonville Jaguars

Free Agent Targets

Martellus Bennett

Bennett has been receiving a ton of interest from multiple teams around the league. The Jaguars should show interest in Bennett because he is a dynamic tight end who is big bodied and get through defenders easily. He played his last few seasons with the New England Patriots, but is now a free agent and looking for a new team. His asking price is well above the Jaguars range at $8 million per year. Even with his asking price so high, Bennett would be a key addition to the team if they were to sign him.

Jimmy Graham

Graham is another dynamic tight end who can move defenders with ease. He spent the first part of his career with the New Orleans Saints, before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Graham’s asking price is high as well, at $12-15 million per year. Though his price is very high and the Jaguars don’t need to spend that much, his production would be worth it.

Potential Draft Targets

The Jaguars could select a few guys at the tight end position in the draft to save them a ton of money in cap space, etc. There are a few players in this year’s draft that would fit the need at tight end very well. While they aren’t first-round picks, they could end up to be worth the team’s second or third round pick.

Jake Butt

Butt played collegiately at Michigan and was a star at the tight end position. He fit well into the Wolverines’ offense, and saw extraordinary playing time. In his career in Ann Arbor, Jake Butt played a big role in Michigan’s success in the Big Ten. He is expected to be gone before the Jaguars have a chance to select him. Should he fall to the Jaguars in a miracle, this would be one of the best selections of the draft for the Jaguars and could boost the offense for 2017 in a big way.

Jeremy Sprinkle

Sprinkle’s college career was spent at Arkansas and he saw valuable playing time while there. He started in 2016, and played a big role in Bret Bielema’s offensive scheme. Sprinkle is being scouted as a not-so-great tight end for the NFL, but many see him being a value worth getting in the draft. Sprinkle could play behind Marcedes Lewis on the depth chart, or even start if he was drafted and proves his worth. He could also become one of Blake Bortles‘ favorite targets to throw to, as well.

Current Players With Potential

Marcedes Lewis

Lewis has been the back-up tight end to Julius Thomas for the last two seasons. With Thomas now gone, this is Lewis’ time to show that he is worthy of being the starting tight end for the Jaguars. Should Lewis be the starter in 2017, Blake Bortles will have to throw him the ball more times than he did to Thomas. The Jaguars have to make do with their tight ends, even if it means targeting them more during games. Lewis is an exceptional tight end who is starter worthy, and can play a big role in the offense next season.