The Jacksonville Jaguars entered the NFL in 1995 as an expansion team and quickly found their feet. In 1996 they made it all the way to the AFC championship game, the start of four straight playoff appearances. They had a dip in the early 2000’s before again putting together some talented teams. In 2005 and 2007 they made the playoffs only to be stopped by New England Patriots both times.
That 2007 season was the end of their competitiveness for a while. They slowly went downhill and hit rock bottom in 2012 with a 2-14 season. They didn’t win more than 6 games again until 2017, when huge free agent investment and some solid draft classes pushed them back up the standings. They claimed their first division title since 1999 and went all the way to the AFC championship game only to be stopped once more by the Patriots despite leading by 10 in the fourth quarter.
In 2018 the Jaguars returned to the foot of the NFL. The devastating defense that had powered their 2017 run fell away and the offense took a big step back. They finished just 5-11, but in Madden 19’s Franchise Mode you have an opportunity to correct that and return them to the playoffs.
In Madden 19 the Jaguars have an 80 overall rating. This is made up of a 79 rated offense and an 87 rated defense. That defensive score is among the best in Madden 19, but the offensive one is among the worst. It really gives you a clear idea of where you need to invest your draft picks and your cap space after season 1. Let’s start by looking at how much cap space you have to play with in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Jaguars Cap Space
The Jaguars start Franchise Mode with a massive 67 players on the roster and just $16.2 million in cap space. This isn’t a lot at all, but with little to spend on right at the start of Franchise Mode there is no need to make severe slashes before you get on the field.
There are 30 players that can be cut without incurring any cap penalty, and you need to get rid of 14 to make the regular season limit of 53 players. This alone should increase your cap space by $3-4 million, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have a lot of wiggle room to play with come the offseason.
Jacksonville Jaguars Impending Free Agents
The Jaguars have 28 players entering the final year of their contract in Madden 19. This will clear up some more cap space as many players are easily replaceable, but there are some that you will have to pay to keep or else you’ll have to invest in a replacement who may not be as good.
Kicker Josh Lambo is the best impending free agent for the Jags. Kickers are fairly easy to come by in Madden 19, but the available ones often have a weakness somewhere in their game. Lambo has remarkable range and is pretty accurate too, so you should keep him rather than roll the dice with a rookie or slightly cheaper free agent.
A lot of running back depth is also heading out of the door, with TJ Yeldon, Corey grant, and David Williams all finishing up their contracts. None are vital, though Corey grant’s 96 speed is very useful, but having some depth is vital so holding onto one of them would be wise. Both Leonard Fournette and Carlos Hyde are expensive running backs with 3 years left on their deal. Hyde will be tradeable at the start of season 2 which will save you some money, part of that can be spent on keeping grant.
Wide receiver Donte Moncrief is also on his way out. He is a solid player but can be allowed to leave thanks to young players like Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole that have shown their ability over the last season.
Other key impending free agents: James O’Shaughnessy (TE), AJ Cann (G), Jarrod Wilson (SS)
Jacksonville Jaguars Roster Needs
With so little cap space it is hard to fill any roster need beyond investing draft picks. The Jaguars have an exceptionally good defense with young players, but a number of them have just 2 seasons left on their contracts, meaning any space you open up after season 1 needs to be saved to retain players. Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, and Myles Jack are all going to be free agents after season 2 and need to be paid. As a result, you should either trade away some of your more expensive players or strictly only spend draft picks on improving the roster.
The biggest player the Jags need improving is under center. Blake Bortles has been with the team since 2014 and has proven himself incapable of competing at the highest level. Your first-round draft pick should be spent on finding a new signal caller, and you may well need to trade up to do so.
After that some help on the offensive line would be good. Andrew Norwell and Brandon Linder are a good guard-center combo, but both tackle spots could certainly be improved and AJ Cann the starting right guard is an impending free agent. Guards are usually pretty easy to find in the mid-rounds but tackles are tougher, you may have to wait until after season 2 to find an improvement at left tackle.
The Jaguars starting defense is almost without fault, and they have solid depth along the defensive line. Another linebacker would be useful and an improvement at strong safety would be good, but these are places where you will have to make do so you can afford to find a new quarterback and retain the stars on defense.
The Jaguars are a nice team to start with, as they have a good defense and an offense that needs your help both as a general manager and a player. It will be a hard road to the top with them though. By the time you have drafted and developed a quarterback new contracts will be due on defense and the cap situation as it currently is will not allow you to keep most of them.
This means you will need to make some vicious cuts to the roster or allow quality players to walk out of the door. If you make no free agent signings, you will have $35.3 million in cap space for the start of season 2, but a thin roster. This is just about enough space to keep Ramsey, Jack, & Ngakoue, but you’ll be losing players like Keelan Cole and right tackle Jermey Parnell if you don’t find a way to extract value from trading away players like Blake Bortles and Carlos Hyde.
Jacksonville will require very careful and precise management to get to and stay at the top of the NFL. Their cap situation is perilous and their roster has a lot of holes that only strong drafts can fill. It’s a good challenge for Franchise Mode, but not one that everyone will enjoy.