By Hays Carlyon
Stability is something that has rarely been enjoyed for the Jaguars.
The offensive line now has it.
The Jaguars placed the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson on Tuesday, while coach Urban Meyer also praised left guard Andrew Norwell. There had been reports Norwell could be traded or released.
The Jaguars appear set to bring back their starting offensive line and position coach. That should make for a smoother transition for Meyer, first-year offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and, most importantly, likely top-pick and Week 1 starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Meyer justified the Robinson decision by judging the 25-year-old with 50 career starts (including playoffs) not off of what he has been so far (inconsistent) but what he will become. Meyer leaned on returning offensive line coach George Warhop as well for guidance.
“Coach Warhop feels very strong about his future and the development,” Meyer said. “We realize he has a great future. His ceiling is very high. I’ve studied him very much. I’ve spent some time with him.”
Meyer also said the left tackle market was a huge concern in finding a suitable replacement for Robinson. The franchise tag will guarantee Robinson roughly $13.6 million this season once he signs it.
“We feel that the way this free agency is moving is that the left tackle position, as always but even more now this year from hearing from the guys who have been in the NFL, this a tough year for that left tackle position,” Meyer said. “We feel like with what’s just out there and with coaching, culture, and development, Cam has a lot of talent.”
Meyer said the Jaguars will continue to work on a multi-year contract with Robinson.
“Our intent is to have Cam Robinson play for the Jaguars for a while,” Meyer said.
Hopefully Robinson and the offensive line will find stability around them now. Robinson has blocked for five different quarterbacks (none of which were good): Blake Bortles, Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton and Mike Glennon.
He’s worked under four different offensive coordinators: Nathaniel Hackett, Scott Milanovich (interim), John DeFilippo and Jay Gruden.
Keeping Robinson also allows the Jaguars more flexibility in the draft. They can select a left tackle early if the value is there but won’t be forced to make a need pick. After taking Lawrence at No. 1, the Jaguars have the 25th pick (Rams), 33rd, 45th (Vikings) and 65th selections. They have 11 picks in total, including two fourth rounders.
Meyer also showed signs of confidence in third-year right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who regressed after a promising rookie season in 2019.
“The two tackles are going to get better,” Meyer said. “They’re young players. That’s an area that has got to play better than it did a year ago, but I think we all know they can in another year together. So, the offensive line, we expect them to play better, but we think there are some pretty good pieces in place.”
Norwell has the team’s highest cap number currently at $15 million, although that could change once free agency begins next week. The 29-year-old Norwell, who Meyer coached at Ohio State, will be entering his fourth season with the Jaguars.
“He’s one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached,” Meyer said. “He’s a guy that was the underdog when we got there at Ohio State. The offensive line at Ohio State was one of the worst in the Big 10, it became the best in the Big 10. He was a big part of it. I was not surprised to see him get a high free agency contract because he’s a grinder, he’s a worker, he’s a team guy, he’s a locker room guy. I see him being part of the Jaguars and I want him to be part of the Jaguars. For me personally, I love the guy because I know him better than most.”
Meyer is making the smart call.
The Jaguars need stability up front. The line will play better under Meyer and with what we believe will be a massive upgrade at quarterback with Lawrence’s arrival. Meyer will also add speed to the receiver position and a pass-catching running back to compliment 1,000-yard rusher James Robinson.
The offensive line is about to get more help than they have ever had in the last few years.
That will show in their play this fall.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon).