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AFC South writers pick Jags as free agency winners

Roy Cummings

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In order to win big in the regular season, you first have to win big in the offseason.

OK, maybe not. But it sounds good. It must to the Jaguars at least because they have long had a tendency to go all out during the offseason, especially in free agency, spending big in an effort to win big when it matters most.

Well, they’ve taken that same spend-big approach again this year under new boss Tom Coughlin and for what it’s worth, they’ve won the offseason. Or so say the four reporters who cover the four teams that make up the AFC South.

ESPN polled those four reporters, asking them who “won’’ free agency and the vote was unanimous. After spending more than $150 million on the likes of defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church, the Jags “won’’ free agency, the reporters all agreed.

“On paper, it’s the Jaguars,’’ wrote Jags beat reporter Michael DiRocco. “Adding Bouye and safety Barry Church to a secondary that already included Jalen Ramsey and Tashaun Gipson should make it very tough on opposing quarterbacks.

“(And) Campbell gives them much-needed consistency and production in the pass rush to go along with interior stud Malik Jackson and young edge rushers Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. The (defense) should be significantly better in 2017. Theoretically, anyway.’’

Yeah, that’s the theory. Of course, that was the theory last year, too. The Jags spent more than $150 million then as well and came away from free agency with the likes of Gipson, Jackson and left tackle Kelvin Beachum but still won just three games.

So what does it matter that they have spent the most money in free agency for the second year in a row and theoretically “won’’ free agency? At this point not much. So let’s revisit this question again in say, December?

We’ll have a better idea then who the real winner of free agency was.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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