New faces: QB Nick Foles, LB Jake Ryan, DE Josh Allen, OT Jawaan Taylor, WR Chris Conley, WR Terrelle Pryor, TE Geoff Swaim, TE Josh Oliver
They’re gone: DT Malik Jackson, S Tashaun Gipson, LB Telvin Smith (at least for 2019), OT Jermey Parnell, WR Donte Moncrief, QB Blake Bortles, RB Carlos Hyde, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, G Chris Reed
2019 snapshot: The Bortles era is finally over, and Foles will surely provide an upgrade, but that doesn’t make his addition a slam dunk.
The price tag ($22 million annually, up to $25 million annually with incentives) was curiously high considering there was no other apparent suitor. There also isn’t much evidence Foles is a quality starter outside of Philadelphia, where his career rating is 74.2 compared to 93.2 with the Eagles. Pairing with former Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo could help, but the duo seems like an odd fit with Jacksonville’s run-heavy identity.
If Foles isn’t more than an average starter, the Jaguars’ defense must get back near its 2016 form, but the group still has plenty of holes. Jackson (released), Gipson (released) and Smith — who announced he won’t play in 2019 for personal reasons — were all key pieces of the dominant group from two years ago, and none has a proven replacement on the roster. Ryan helps some but isn’t nearly as fast as Smith.
On the plus side, the Jags had a terrific draft, capitalizing on Allen’s slide to No. 7 overall and then scooping up Taylor — considered a top-10 prospect by some — in Round 2. Allen has been as advertised during the preseason, providing another threat along a dangerous defensive line. Oliver also impressed in training camp before getting hurt, and he could see plenty of work at a thin position once healthy.
Get to know… LB Quincy Williams
A third-round pick who many thought could go undrafted, Williams has drawn praise from Doug Marrone for his speed at practice. He missed the preseason with minor knee surgery but could contribute early in Smith’s absence.
Worth the investment?
–Are the Jaguars closer to their 2017 selves (10-6) than the group that went 5-11 last year? Vegas leans slightly toward the former, with the over/under win total at 8, but we’d lean toward the latter.
–Even if you’re a believer in Foles, it’s hard to like him as a longshot MVP at +8000. Jalen Ramsey for Defensive Player of the Year might be a better dice roll (+2800).
Bottom line: Foles is an upgrade, but he’s far from a savior. Likewise, the Jags should be better, but the difference might be marginal.