AFC South 2021 free company grades: Jaguars earn stable mark for try to fast-track rebuild


The AFC South is coming into an fascinating transition interval. The Tennessee Titans‘ probabilities to repeat as division champs seem like in query, the Indianapolis Colts have a brand new quarterback (once more), the Jacksonville Jaguars have a brand new head coach and the Houston Texans … nicely they’ve fairly a rebuild in entrance of them. It is really one of the intriguing divisions to look at in 2021. Can the Titans proceed to place nearly all of the offensive load on Derrick Henry? Can Carson Wentz lead the Colts to success? Might City Meyer discover relative success in his first season within the NFL? And what is going on to occur with the Texans and Deshaun Watson?

To place it succinctly, this offseason the Titans and Colts are each making an attempt to keep up their statuses as contenders within the division, whereas the Jaguars and Texans try to get a soar begin on their rebuilds. All 4 groups have made a few fascinating free-agent additions via March, however who has had one of the best offseason? Under, we’ll grade how every staff within the AFC South has accomplished in free company. First, let’s begin off with the Texans.

Houston Texans

Key additions: OT Marcus Cannon (commerce), LB Shaq Lawson (commerce), RB Mark Ingram, QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Phillip Lindsay, LB Christian Kirksey, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Desmond King, CB Terrance Mitchell

The Texans have made a considerable amount of additions this offseason, nevertheless it’s arduous to say which of them will really be “key additions.” Each Cannon and Lawson determine to make instant impacts on the offensive and defensive fronts, respectively, and the Texans have additionally tried to handle the difficulty within the secondary by signing a number of cornerbacks resembling King and Mitchell, on high of re-upping with Vernon Hargreaves. Probably the most intriguing signing for the Texans needs to be the operating again Lindsay, who joins a backfield with David Johnson after which fellow newcomer Ingram. Houston downgraded at huge receiver, nevertheless, as 33-year-old Andre Roberts, Chris Conley and Chris Moore possible will not make up for the lack of Will Fuller. It is arduous to be excited for the Texans in 2021 since they’re going through a significant rebuild and have questions on the quarterback place. Nothing about these additions jumps off the web page, however let’s be reasonable. I do not assume we had been anticipating Houston to be main gamers in free company both. That is why I am not going to provide the Texans too low of a grade.  

Grade: C-

Indianapolis Colts

Key additions: QB Carson Wentz (commerce), OT Sam Tevi

The Colts shortly discovered their new quarterback by buying and selling for Wentz, however haven’t been too lively in free company. Nonetheless, that is not essentially a nasty factor. The Colts re-signed a number of essential items, resembling huge receiver T.Y. Hilton, cornerback Xavier Rhodes after which additionally operating again Marlon Mack. Indy did lose a few notable gamers in free company that may harm, nevertheless, resembling defensive lineman Denico Autry and linebacker Anthony Walker. The primary query that is still is how will the Colts change Anthony Castonzo at left sort out? They went out and signed Tevi from the Los Angeles Chargers, nevertheless it’s arduous to think about he is the reply in relation to defending Wentz’s blind facet. One other spot the place you want to see the Colts enhance is at huge receiver. They re-signed Hilton, which is nice, however having one other professional starter may assist Wentz in his first season in Indy. The Colts have excessive hopes for second-year wideout Michael Pittman Jr., nevertheless it’s not a given he’ll emerge right into a star in 2021. Chris Ballard and Co. nonetheless have the 2021 NFL Draft to fill holes, and free company is not over simply but. 

Grade: C+

Jacksonville Jaguars

Key additions: CB Shaquill Griffin, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DT Roy Robertson-Harris, DE Tyson Alualu, WR Marvin Jones, WR Jamal Agnew, RB Carlos Hyde, DT Malcom Brown (commerce)

First-year head coach City Meyer wasn’t too fond of the authorized tampering interval in free company, however his Jaguars had been fairly lively. They positioned the franchise tag on left sort out Cam Robinson, gave Griffin a three-year, $40 million deal, signed Jenkins to a four-year deal and beefed up the defensive entrance by signing Robertson-Harris and buying and selling for Brown. The transfer I actually like is the signing of Jones to function a veteran within the receiving corps. Whereas he simply turned 31, Jones caught a career-high 76 passes for 978 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2020. He is additionally the solely participant within the NFL who has caught a minimum of 9 landing passes in every of the final two seasons. Trevor Lawrence goes to love having a participant like him within the fold. 

Most individuals aren’t going to provide the Jaguars a grade as excessive as a B due to the contracts gamers like Griffin and Jenkins acquired. Some hypothesize the franchise goes to remorse these transactions within the coming years, however let’s a minimum of give them an opportunity right here. The Jaguars had the second-worst protection within the league final 12 months, and struggled in each stopping the run and the move. With the additions Jacksonville made alongside the defensive position and within the secondary, it clearly proves the Jags are attempting to appropriate these points. I am not going to penalize them for doing that at this level simply because the contracts could be a bit a lot. They’re making an attempt to get a jump-start on this rebuild and I like that.  

Grade: B

Tennessee Titans

Key additions: OLB Bud Dupree, DL Denico Autry, OT Kendall Lamm, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Kevin Johnson, WR Josh Reynolds

The primary positional want for the Titans this offseason was the identical as final offseason: pass-rusher. Tennessee gave Jadeveon Clowney an enormous contract final 12 months for one season, however the Titans at the moment are making an attempt their luck with Dupree, who they inked to a five-year, $82.5 million deal. Including Autry to the defensive position was a pleasant addition, and re-signing linebacker Jayon Brown was what I thought-about to be an sudden shock. Whereas the Titans have made some good additions, it is arduous to look previous what they’ve misplaced. Huge receiver Corey Davis left for the New York Jets, tight finish Jonnu Smith acquired paid by the New England Patriots and the Titans launched beginning cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson together with beginning sturdy security Kenny Vaccaro resulting from cap considerations. Do the signings of Jenkins and Johnson make up for the losses at cornerback? I do not assume so. I did just like the signing of Reynolds as a result of he has potential as a No. 2 wideout subsequent to A.J. Brown, however Tennessee nonetheless has extra work to do at huge receiver together with discovering a brand new tight finish. 

Grade: B-



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