Trent Baalke hopes Jaguars never have to spend big in free agency again

The Jacksonville Jaguars tossed around cash at the start of free agency like there was no tomorrow, shelling out $259.5 million on seven players, including $155.25 million guaranteed.

Jags general manager Trent Baalke said Wednesday that he hopes the spree is the last time Jacksonville has to spend big to bring in new players. In the future, he'd like to use that money to pay players they've drafted.

"We're trying to fix this thing long term, have a vision for the future as we build this thing out, and right now it's a combination of free agency and the draft," he said, via the Associated Press. "We hope to get this organization to the point where we're not relying on free agency as much. We're relying on our drafts and giving second contracts to those guys."

The money the Jags have tossed around has been impressive: receiver Christian Kirk (four years, $72 million, with $37 million guaranteed); guard Brandon Scherff (three years, $49.5 million with $30 million guaranteed); linebacker Foye Oluokun (three years, $45 million, with $28 million guaranteed); defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi (three years, $30 million, with $20 million guaranteed); cornerback Darious Williams (three years, $30 million, with $18 million guaranteed); receiver Zay Jones (three years, $24 million, with $14 million guaranteed); and tight end Evan Engram (one year, $9 million, with $8.25 million guaranteed).

The Jags had to spend big in free agency to improve the roster under new coach Doug Pederson because they've whiffed on so many draft picks in recent years. Only nine of 59 draft picks from 2012-2019 have signed second contracts with the club, per ESPN.

Baalke has been in Jacksonville since 2020, first as director of player personnel before being promoted to interim GM and then full-time GM in 2021.

The contract getting the most attention in free agency is Kirk, whose deal makes him the eighth-highest-paid receiver in the NFL, despite never having a 1,000-yard season in four years in Arizona. Baalke brushed aside the concerns.

"If he comes in and he plays to the level that the contract is and he meets the incentives, which I hope he does," Baalke said. "If he does, nobody here, nobody in the stands, nobody in the national media is going to care about what he was paid because he's earned every penny. The only time it's gonna matter is if he doesn't play well, and we're not worried about that."

If Kirk and/or the rest of the free agents signed this year don't play to the level of the contracts, Baalke certainly won't be around clean up the mess.

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