The Jaguars have the second largest salary cap situation in the NFL, so now what?

Jaguars beat writer Mike Kaye previews free agency

The 2017 NFL salary cap was set at $167 million on Wednesday, but the Jaguars actually have almost $40 million more to play with this year.

According to the NFL Players Association, the Jaguars currently have a $206.3 million salary cap, after rolling over last year's available funds.

The obscene figure positions the Jaguars with the second largest salary cap in the NFL behind the Cleveland Browns at $217.1 million. The San Francisco 49ers are a close third with $205.7 million in spending space.

However, the Jaguars actually have the third most available funds in the league behind Cleveland and San Francisco. Jacksonville has nearly $71 million to spend in cap space, according to OverTheCap.com.

The Jaguars were 3-13 last season and clearly have a lot of work to do to turn the franchise's fortunes around. 

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Jacksonville needs to develop and pay their own talent. They began to do so with defensive tackle Abry Jones, signing him to a four-year, $16 million deal on Valentine's Day. However, there is even more internal work to be done.

Linebacker Telvin Smith, wide receiver Allen Robinson, center Brandon Linder and cornerback Aaron Colvin are among the talented players on the Jaguars roster that are due and deserving of potential contract extensions. Those four players are among the Top 10 additions to the Jaguars under general manager Dave Caldwell's watch.

Signing the quartet of talent to big extensions should eat up a decent chunk of change for the Jaguars. There is also plenty of room for extensions for quarterback Blake Bortles and wide receiver Marqise Lee if they can prove be long-term assets. Bortles' contract extension would likely be in the $20 million per year range if he shows the franchise that he is worth investing in at the sport's most important position.

Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin is a new set of eyes to determine whether or not the current crop deserves big deals. Coughlin said in February that everyone is auditioning for roles and potential contracts with the franchise.

“It helps in regard to making sure that everybody understands that everybody has a chance to interview; let’s see how you do.”

Along with internal moves, the Jaguars will have to spend tons of money in free agency to reach the salary cap floor. While the designation of franchise tags to New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram and Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson have simmered the sizzle of the market, there is still plenty of talent to stock up on.

The Jaguars need at least one starting guard, a starting strong safety, a starting cornerback and a premium pass rusher. If Jacksonville wants to spend, there will be some potential key pieces in free agency.

Guards like Kevin Zeitler, Larry Warford, T.J. Lang and Riley Reiff may all command eight figures annually.

Incumbent starting strong safety Johnathan Cyprien seems set on cashing in on his career year last season and the original top guy that was set to hit the market - Eric Berry - just signed a record contract at the position. Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson is likely to get the biggest deal of the remaining safeties.

At cornerback, Prince Amukmara is set to hit free agency and may not be back in Jacksonville. Potential home run targets like Stephon Gilmore, A.J. Bouye, Logan Ryan and Dre Kirkpatrick are all likely to ask for at least $10 million per year.

The defensive end market is watered down with Pierre-Paul receiving the tag. However, New England Patriots defensive end Jabaal Sheard and Detroit Lions defensive end Devin Taylor should command high salaries.

There will be plenty to spend on this offseason, but the Jaguars have to be smart. They've already rid themselves of the top contracts dished out in 2015. Defensive end Jared Odrick was cut in February and tight end Julius Thomas is about to be jettisoned to Miami for a measly seventh-round pick.

That's why Coughlin and Caldwell will be calculated with their spending.

“It takes discipline to do it," Couglin said in February.

"We all know that free agency allows you some creativity, some opportunities; not always the highest-priced individual; not always those that are the top of the market at their positions. You do have to have discipline. You do have to have restraints. You do have to realize that there’s more than one year involved here. There’s a tremendous desire to win, to win now, and that’s what we all feel. You also have to have a little bit of restraint.”

The bottom line is that the Jaguars need to spend and spend a lot this summer. Whether it's with internal deals, incoming free agents or a mixture of both, the Jaguars have the ammunition to do roughly whatever they want this offseason.

NFL free agency starts on March 9.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

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