Jaguars 2024 free agency tracker: Offseason moves, signings

Former 49ers DT Arik Armstead to sign three-year deal with Jaguars. Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2024 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, which means free agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2024 NFL draft begins April 25 on ESPN.

Here's a breakdown of every 2024 NFL free agent signing by the Jacksonville Jaguars and how each will impact the upcoming season:

Arik Armstead, DT

Armstead is signing a three-year, $51 million contract with the Jaguars, per source.

What it means: The interior defensive line was one of the Jaguars' biggest weaknesses and adding Armstead pretty much fixes the issue. Though he has missed 13 games over the past two seasons, he's one of the NFL's most dominant interior defensive linemen when healthy. He'll give the Jaguars a pass rush presence from the interior, which will help edge rushers Josh Allen and Travon Walker, who combined for 27.5 sacks last season, be even more effective.

Signing Armstead also means the Jaguars can bypass defensive line in the first round and address another pressing need -- cornerback -- if they choose. Current GM Trent Baalke drafted Armstead in San Francisco in the first round in 2015.

What's the risk: Armstead suffered a fractured ankle in 2022, is coming off surgery on a meniscus and turns 31 years old in November, so that could be something to watch. But Armstead didn't miss a single game from 2018-21 and put up 22.5 sacks in that stretch.

Gabe Davis, WR

The Jaguars are signing Davis to a three-year, $39 million contract that includes $11 million at signing, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

What it means: Davis gives the Jaguars someone on the outside who can stretch the field as well as win 50-50 balls and make contested catches. That's something the Jaguars could definitely use in the red zone because they didn't call many fades. Davis averaged 16.7 yards per catch and caught 27 touchdown passes with the Bills. He'd start on the outside opposite Zay Jones, who is coming off a season in which he was limited by a knee injury. However, Jones had career highs in catches and yards in 2022 when he was healthy but didn't stretch the field (10 yards per catch) as much as he had the previous two seasons.

What's the risk: Davis is a good addition but the Jaguars don't have a true No. 1 receiver and he'll likely end up as the No. 2 behind Christian Kirk. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing because the Jaguars' offense was really productive in 2022 functioning without a No. 1 as well and relying on Kirk, Jones, Marvin Jones Jr. and tight end Evan Engram. Davis is an upgrade from Jones, who was on the back end of his career, but his signing doesn't preclude the Jaguars from looking for a receiver in the first three rounds of the draft.

Mitch Morse, C

Morse and the Jags agreed to terms on a two-year contract worth $10.5 million, a league source confirmed Monday.

What it means: The Jaguars had to at least bring in competition for third-year center Luke Fortner, who struggled last season (he ranked 31st among centers in pass block win rate, per ESPN Stats & Information), but Morse is now the starter. He may be 31 years old, but he's still playing at a high level: He made the Pro Bowl in 2022 with the Buffalo Bills and ranked 14th among centers in pass block win rate. Now Fortner can continue to develop over the final two seasons of his rookie deal.

What's the risk: This was a move the Jaguars had to make and now they have at least three starters on the line who are in their eighth year or more (LT Cam Robinson, Morse, RG Brandon Scherff). Morse and Fortner are now on the same contract schedule so the Jaguars may have to address center again after 2025. Robinson and swing tackle Walker Little are in the final year of their contracts so the offensive line will have to be addressed next offseason, too.

Ezra Cleveland, G

The Jaguars have agreed to a three-year contract with the left guard, a league source confirmed.

What it means: Signing Cleveland means the Jaguars have what they viewed as their top OL group in 2023 all under contract for 2024: left tackle Cam Robinson, Cleveland, center Luke Fortner, right guard Brandon Scherff, and right tackle Anton Harrison.

Cleveland only started five games for the Jaguars after being acquired in a mid-season trade, but GM Trent Baalke viewed him as the solution to a revolving door at left guard. Including Cleveland, four players started at that spot in 2023 (Cleveland, Ben Bartch, Tyler Shatley and Walker Little). Cleveland also started one game at left tackle last season and could be used there again in a pinch.

What's the risk: The Jaguars' run game had a drop in production in 2023, and two of the main issues were the inability to run the ball inside and short yardage. That was especially evident in the season finale against Tennessee when the Jaguars didn't even try to run the ball inside on third- and fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line trailing by eight points late in the fourth quarter. Cleveland is a good fit in the Jaguars' zone scheme, but the interior of the OL has to get significantly better and stronger for the short-yardage success to improve.

Darnell Savage, S

A league source has confirmed a three-year deal for Savage.

What it means: The Jaguars needed a replacement for Rayshawn Jenkins, whom they released last week, and they're adding a player who has started 69 games and intercepted nine passes in five seasons with Green Bay. This likely means that the Jaguars didn't feel second-year player Antonio Johnson was ready for a major role as a starter but he'll still figure into the rotation as a big nickel.

One other thing to consider: Free safety Andre Cisco is entering the final year of his rookie deal and Savage has played free safety with the Packers so he could slide over and Johnson take over as the strong safety in 2025.

What's the risk: It's still unclear exactly what new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen's scheme is going to look like. He said at his introductory news conference that it may look more man-coverage based than it actually is, but he describes his philosophy as "nothing cheap, and nothing deep." The Jaguars still have work to do at cornerback as well, but that may be the position they target in the first round of the draft.

Joey Slye, K

Jaguars are signing Slye to a one-year deal, sources told ESPN.

What it means: Slye was brought in to compete with Riley Patterson after Wil Lutz backed out on a three-year agreement with the Jaguars last week. Slye has made 82.3% of his field goal attempts in his five-year career, including going 62.5% from 50 yards or longer. In the past three-plus seasons in Washington, Slye made 56 of 66 field goal attempts (84.8%) and 8 of 12 (66.7%) from 50 yards or longer. He has a bigger leg than Patterson, who has attempted only six field goals of 50-plus yards in three seasons with three teams.

What's the risk: Minimal risk with a one-year deal. The Jaguars are looking for consistency, especially from long range, which is why they didn't re-sign Brandon McManus.

D'Ernest Johnson, RB

Johnson plans to sign a one-year deal to return to the Jaguars.

What it means: Johnson joined the Jaguars in 2023. He was the top backup to Travis Etienne Jr. last season and subbed as the kick returner when Jamal Agnew was injured. There are still questions about 2023 third-round pick Tank Bigsby, so the Jaguars brought back Johnson to ensure they've got someone they're comfortable with as their No. 2.

What's the risk: Johnson averaged a career-low 2.6 yards per carry in 2023, but a major factor was the Jaguars struggled to run the ball as a unit. The offensive line ranked 28th in run block win rate (68.1%), per ESPN Stats & Information, and by the end of the season, it was clear that offensive coordinator Press Taylor didn't have confidence in the run game.

Jeremiah Ledbetter, DT

The Jaguars announced they have signed Ledbetter to a three-year contract extension.

What it means: Ledbetter is coming off the best season of his seven-year career -- 24 tackles and a fumble recovery -- as part of the defensive tackle rotation. With the release of Folorunso Fatukasi earlier in the week the Jaguars wanted to keep an experienced tackle around alongside DaVon Hamilton. Ledbetter's role isn't likely to expand much, but the former sixth-round pick by Detroit in 2017 is a solid run defender.

What's the risk: Upgrading the interior of the defensive line is one of the team's priorities, especially in terms of rushing the passer. Ledbetter is a good depth piece, but the Jaguars certainly aren't done adding along the line and it wouldn't be surprising if they added another tackle in free agency and drafted one next month.

Ronald Darby, CB

League source confirms the Jaguars and Darby have agreed to a two-year deal.

What it means: Darby is a versatile veteran corner who can play inside or outside, though the Jaguars will have him play primarily outside. He has started 95 games in his nine-year career and the Jaguars would be comfortable with him starting on the outside opposite Tyson Campbell. Cornerback was one of the team's top needs and the Jaguars will address it in the draft, too, but adding Darby means they don't have to force a pick if a corner they like at a certain spot isn't available.

What's the risk: Darby has just eight interceptions in his career and hasn't had one since Week 13 of the 2019 season. He also has missed significant time with ankle, hamstring and hip injuries as well as a torn ACL twice (2018 and 2022).

Devin Duvernay, WR

League source confirms Duvernay will sign a two-year contract with the Jaguars.

What it means: Duvernay will more than likely take over as the Jaguars' punt and kick returner with the team not re-signing Jamal Agnew. Duvernay averaged 12.8 yards per punt return and 24.8 yards per kick return in his four years in Baltimore. He made the Pro Bowl in 2021 and 2022 and was a first-team All-Pro in 2021, when he led the NFL in punt return average (13.8). In four seasons with the Ravens, he had 94 catches for 898 yards and five touchdowns and started 24 games as a receiver.

What's the risk: When Agnew missed six games with various injuries last season, rookie Parker Washington stepped in as the punt returner and averaged 10.5 yards per return, which was slightly better than Agnew (10.3). Washington will get a chance to compete for the job in 2024. Where Duvernay is an upgrade over Agnew is as a receiver. Agnew had just 16 catches in four seasons with Detroit and while he improved as a receiver in his three seasons in Jacksonville, Duvernay provides better depth at that spot.

Trevis Gipson, LB

The Jaguars announce they have signed Gipson to a one-year deal.

What it means: Gipson will fit in as a rotational pass-rusher behind Josh Allen and Travon Walker. He has 13 career sacks in 48 games but that includes seven sacks in 2021 with Chicago. Whether he's the No. 3 or No. 4 edge rusher depends on what the Jaguars do in the draft and the development of Yasir Abdullah, the team's fifth-round pick last season who played in five games. Gipson is definite upgrade from K'Lavon Chaisson, who had five sacks in 57 games with the Jaguars as the No. 20 overall pick in 2020.

What's the risk: This is a low-risk signing with a potential mid to high reward if Gipson can be the effective pass-rusher in a reserve role he was with the Bears. Robert Quinn had 18.5 sacks for Chicago that season (second in the NFL) and Gipson was able to take advantage of the attention teams played to Quinn and finished second on the team in sacks.

Blake Hance, OT

The Jags are re-signing Hance to a two-year deal.

What it means: Hance played in all 17 games for the Jaguars last season, mainly on special teams. He started once (Baltimore) as an extra offensive lineman. The Jaguars signed him to a one-year deal worth $950,000 before the 2023 season and was a restricted free agent.

What's the risk: With Cam Robinson, Anton Harrison and Walker Little back, Hance would be the fourth tackle whose main role would remain special teams.

Daniel Thomas, S

What it means: Thomas is one of the Jaguars' core special teams players. He finished second on the team with seven special teams tackles in 2023 (behind only Pro Bowl long-snapper Ross Matiscik). He hasn't played much as a backup safety the last two seasons, but the former 2020 fifth-round pick out of Auburn did start four games in his first two seasons. Thomas turned in four of the team's five fastest speeds on the field last season, per NFL Next Gen Stats.

What's the risk: There's minimal risk since the Jaguars aren't going to be counting on Thomas to play much on defense. Though the team released safety Rayshawn Jenkins, second-year player Antonio Johnson is expected to step into a starting role and veteran Andrew Wingard would be the top backup.