Certainly, Norwell will be expected to help the offense become the best four-minute unit in the NFL. The Jaguars figure to have some leads to protect late in games after winning 12 games last season and bringing back the core of its elite defense.
The decision not to pay Allen Robinson is puzzling, but Coughlin does have a track record of finding gems at the position. The Jaguars glory days under Coughlin during his run as coach in the 1990s featured two stars in Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. Neither were acquired through a high draft pick or mega free-agent deal.
Coughlin beat New England twice in the Super Bowl thanks to incredible catches by receivers David Tyree and Mario Manningham. Neither were good receivers in the NFL.
Coughlin must think he has two more gems in second-year players Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole. It will be fascinating to see if the Jaguars hold on to fifth-year veteran Allen Hurns at $7 million. The team had roughly $27 million in salary-cap space before the Norwell deal.
The message to quarterback Blake Bortles is clear. We’ll pay big to buy you time to throw, but you’ll have to make do without an established star on the perimeter. Time to throw means more to a quarterback than the target.
The Jaguars are a better team making this move. Running back Leonard Fournette is the centerpiece of this offense and now he should have more room to operate with Norwell at left guard.
The Jaguars might be one move away from fielding one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. Everybody will expect the Jaguars to take a receiver in the first round with the 29th overall pick, but what if Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey is there as many mock drafts suggest? The Jaguars could have him compete with Cann and Parnell for a spot in the starting five this fall before he settles in as the future right tackle.
Coughlin could still add a receiver and tight end in the second and third round, respectively.
I still have my doubts about whether the Jaguars will be able to throw it when they have to, but it’s clear Coughlin is banking on those situations being rare with the dominant trenches the Jaguars have built.
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