The Jacksonville Jaguars have made the decision to trade boundary corner A.J. Bouye to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a 2020 fourth round draft pick. And while the trade does not officially go through until the 18th March, in doing so the Jaguars state their intentions that a full-blown reconstruction of their secondary (you could argue their whole defence) is well underway.
The moves sees the Jaguars free up around eleven million in cap space as they look for some respite from the twenty-plus million pound four year contract they handed to Nick Foles last year; a player they are also now reportedly seeking to trade. And with the trading of Jalen Ramsay to the LA Rams at the trade deadline last year, most saw A.J. Bouye moving into a leading role on the Jaguars defence. However Jacksonville’s front office has seemingly decided to head in a different direction with this move.
Bouye wasn’t exceptional last year, far removed from the performances we have seen him provide in past seasons, struggling in his role as a man-coverage corner. Bouye’s 2019 PFF grade dropped dramatically to 58.4 highlighting his troubles within the Jaguars secondary as he allowed more than fifty receptions last year. And it may well have been this collection of recent performances that have turned the Jaguars’ head to pursue new talent in this years’ draft and upcoming free agency period.
The trade is also significant in laying down the benchmark for player value this off-season. Especially when you look at players like the Lions’ Darius Slay who is also rumoured to be on the trade-block. Would a team now really look to relinquish a first-round pick for a somewhat ageing player despite being a top-five cornerback in the league?
On the other side of the deal, many will choose to ask where this leaves the Denver Broncos and their current situation at cornerback. Chris Harris Jr. is set to hit the free agency market so does this move signal the end of his time in Denver? Possibly.
But Harris and Bouye are two different types of cornerback who could substantially complement one another in Denver’s secondary. Harris has found success in recent seasons working as a slot corner whilst Bouye is traditionally seen as a boundary corner. Pairing both together and giving Harris a second successive one-year contract may well work in Denver’s favour if Harris is unable to seek something more long-term elsewhere around the league.
Bouye’s departure also serves to question what the Jaguars’ future plans are, with the majority of their defence which saw them reach the AFC Championship only two years ago, now either cut or traded. There’s no doubt the Jaguars will look to replace any lost talent in their secondary through the draft but with the quality of player that has been allowed to walk from Jacksonville in recent times, it will not be straightforward when attempting to identify suitable replacements.
The Jaguars will have to ensure they hit on the majority, or all, of the players they choose to bring to the TIAA Bank Field stadium this off-season.