ZMI ALPHA:Baalke talks free agency, priorities

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ZMI ALPHA:Baalke talks free agency, priorities

Jacksonville’s offseason strategy became a little murkier following the franchise tag deadline. The team elected to tag left tackle Cam Robinson in a somewhat surprising decision, likely taking it out of the sweepstakes for top free-agent tackle Trent Williams. Additionally, several Jacksonville targets, such as New York Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams and Chicago Bears receiver Allen Robinson, were tagged by their respective teams.

Now, with teams allowed to begin negotiating on Monday and players allowed to sign those deals beginning on Wednesday, the Jaguars must decide how they’re going to spend their roughly $82 million in cap space.

Speaking to the media, Jags general manager Trent Baalke said the team is looking for value, but it also has priorities.

“We do, we certainly do,” he said. “We’re looking at a lot of different positions and a lot of different players and the key word there was value. We’re looking for value. That isn’t always the most expensive player. There’s all different levels of ‘like.’ When we say we like a player, to what level and what value do we place on him? So, that’s going to be critical as we build this team out moving forward is making sure we get the value of the position and the player correct.”

With the league’s official salary cap being finalized at $182.5 million, Jacksonville now knows exactly how much cash will be at its disposal. Baalke expects the team to be big spenders, but he also said he doesn’t intend to overpay.

“…we figured it would be somewhere between 180 and 185 and that’s what we planned on,” Baalke said. “As far as spending, we’re always going to look to push the envelope and spend to the cap on a three-year rolling cycle, whether you’re above or below, but over a three-year period hoping to spend to the cap. We have an ownership that’s willing to do that and we want to do that, so we’re going to use the dollars.

I spoke earlier about value, I think value’s critical. You have to get the value of the players right. Just like building a stock portfolio, if you get a bunch of overpriced stocks, you buy high and sell low, eventually that catches up with you. So, we want to treat the players right and value them correctly and bring them into the organization and give them the best of the best and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

The Jaguars have their work cut out for them ahead of the draft in building a solid starting foundation for quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but they certainly have the capital to make it happen. The question now will be if Baalke and Co. can make the right free agency decisions.

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