The Saints and Jaguars will meet on Monday Night Football in this second week of the 2021 preseason. In the first year of only three preseason games, so far it seems like other teams around the NFL are treating preseason game two much like they treated preseason game three in prior seasons. Many starting quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Cam Newton have seen significant playing time already this week, so it stands to reason we may see quite a bit of both Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston on Monday. Winston and Trevor Lawrence have both been named the starting quarterbacks for this matchup, and could play the entire first quarter if the coaching staff allows it.
Even before this week, the Saints and Jaguars were linked in trade speculation earlier this offseason. Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson and Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas both seemed to have rifts with their respective teams early on in training camp, and it was only natural for the CB needy Saints to draw speculation as a possible destination for Henderson. However, it seems both Henderson and Thomas have both mended their relationships between them and the coaching staffs, meaning a trade now is unlikely, but it is still fun to speculate about acquiring a player as talented as Henderson, especially given the Saints situation at corner.
Tony Wiggins has been a member of the Jacksonville sports media for many years. Prior to hosting the Locked on Jaguars podcast, he was a personality on the Jaguars flagship radio station in Jacksonville, and is also an analyst for local news station First Coast Sports. In this interview we discuss potential players who could be on the move for both teams, and what to look for during Monday Night Football.
Hayden Reel: So to start off, how close do you think the Jags and Saints were to making a trade involving CJ Henderson and Michael Thomas, and do you think a trade is still likely?
Tony Wiggins: I haven't heard anything to indicate they were actually close to doing it, in fact, I heard that the Saints would have problems with doing it because of the salary cap ramifications. I really think with CJ what it is is, and I did talk to a couple personnel people around the league that would be interested in CJ, and the price that I heard from them would be a first round plus, a one plus which means a first round pick and something else. The opinion of him is higher than some people think it is but they said they haven't even been talked to by the Jaguars, and that team did indicate that they would be one of the teams that would hear it first and they didn't hear anything, so I really think the CJ thing was just to motivate him. He is not a bad character guy he is just a little introverted, but he is their most talented DB. It is just a matter of getting that talent to match up with the competitive gene that Urban Meyer wants.
HR: If a team came with a blank check, or a blank trade proposal and said we will give you whatever you want, but you have to give us either Laviska Shenault or DJ Chark, which one would you rather the Jags trade away?
TW: I personally would rather they trade DJ Chark, the owners son Tony Khan has basically professed his love for Chark on Twitter during the draft process, but to me, Shenault is a different cat man. He’s 6’1” 227 pounds, he runs well after the catch, he had I think 20 plays of 15+ yards after the catch last year. He’s a tremendous tremendous player, but the reason why I say I would rather trade Chark is that we have only seen one year of Shenault, and while I like Chark, we have seen him for three years, so you kind of get an idea of what the upside is, and I think we haven’t even seen the full potential of Shenault yet. So I would take the younger guy and I’ll give you Chark.
HR: What player on the Saints, besides Michael Thomas, would you like to see the Jaguars pursue?
TW: For me it would be Marcus Williams, I thought they would go after him in free agency but they didn’t. But I would probably say Williams, obviously Terron Armstead is the man on that team, but I think the Jags are pretty solid with Cam Robinson and the potential of Walker Little, and then Armstead is a little older. I just think Marcus Williams would have the most impact... you know what, let me pause on that and say Demario Davis, because they just traded Joe Schobert, so they have an exploratory hole at mike linebacker, so I think the guy who would make the biggest impact would be Demario Davis, but barely second would be Marcus Williams.
HR: The Jaguars have had some mediocre guard play in the last few years, so if the Saints were to offer a player like Andrus Peat, what do you think the Jags best offer for someone like him would be.
TW: I don’t know what the offer would be, I think they would listen because Peat is a good player, but AJ Cann has had a really good camp. I think they like him a little bit more than most. I have been thinking for two years that the offensive line needed to be fixed, and for two consecutive years the Jaguars have drafted just one offensive linemen, and they retained offensive line coach George Warhop, so obviously they don’t see the same thing that I see. So because of that I’m willing to believe that they probably like the offensive line better than I do so I don’t think they’re going to make a move. They had all that cap room and they didn’t even call Trent Williams.
HR: What do you think a fair trade between the two teams involving CJ Henderson and Michael Thomas would be?
TW: If you give me Michael Thomas you got to give me something else too, I would take a day two draft pick. I wouldn’t take him just by himself because of the uncertainty with the ankle and then you’re taking on a lot of money, so I would make you give me a pick as well. Wide receiver has not been one of the Jaguars biggest needs lately, and I know a lot of people are leaning on the fact that Urban coached him in college, but I wouldn’t let that prevent me from trying to get more compensation.
HR: Is there anyone else you would think the Jags would offer with CJ Henderson? Or what do you think the highest draft pick they might offer for Thomas would be, or nothing, just CJ for Thomas and a day two pick?
TW: I wouldn’t trade any draft capital if I was Jacksonville, because you don’t know how good the team will be yet. They will probably not be a playoff team so that draft pick is going to be in the upper echelon of whatever round it’s in, so I’d want to hold on to as many of those as I could.
HR: So how has former Saints defensive tackle Malcom Brown been performing so far in camp for the Jags?
TW: He’s performing well and providing a lot of leadership. The thing that makes him a good addition for us is, obviously he knows Charlie Strong well, but they want to play the way the Baltimore Ravens play, and to do that you need 330 pound guys. The fact that he’s lined up next to DaVon Hamilton, who played for Urban Meyer at Ohio State, that gives them two guys in the 325-330 pound range that are also athletic. So them playing side by side has allowed them to play together, and so far so good because it looks like they can really stop the run.
HR: Given how well Brown and Hamilton have been playing, do you think defensive tackle Taven Bryan will be released prior to Week 1?
TW: I don’t know if they’ll push any buttons with him, but I have watched him for three years, and I believe he will be released based on what I’ve seen from him over the last three years. So unless they have a magic formula to get more out of him, I can’t imagine he’s going to be on this roster for much longer.
HR: Do you think if he were to be released that a change of scenery would help his career, or do you think he’s just not up to par wherever he might play?
TW: I don’t think he’s up to par, because he plays the three technique and in the defense that they used to have here under Todd Wash, he should’ve been a guy who was shining and he wasn’t. Some of the things you saw on tape where he was just getting pancaked by people, the defense they had before him they had Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell, who switched out the three technique, and they also played Campbell as the big end, the five technique. They tried Taven at both, and both of those guys made the Pro Bowl and Taven couldn’t even be above average.
HR: What do you think the most surprising cut the Jags will make before Week 1 will be?
TW: I think it might be Collin Johnson, the second year wide receiver from Texas. It might be because of their emphasis on speed, and that’s not his forte, Collin Johnson might be the most surprising cut before the season starts.
Collin Johnson right now is the 7th WR, most had him locked in at 4 just a few weeks ago. 4 wat safety tie somehow and still Minshew or Lawrence at QB1. Some surprises for sure https://t.co/iPHeplvE9p— 904andMore (@904andmore) August 18, 2021
HR: How much Trevor Lawrence do you think the Saints are going to see on Monday?
TW: That’s a mystery question, I don’t know. He’s gunna play, if he doesn't start you’re probably going to see a bunch of him and if he does start you probably won’t see that much. I think this coaching staff has kind of pulled Urban into thinking you have to be real vanilla with the preseason and not show much. So if you're going to be vanilla there isn’t much reason to play him. I think if he starts you’re only going to see two or three series, and if he doesn’t start you might see him for a whole quarter.
HR: What are you looking for from the Jags this week in New Orleans?
TW: To get off the field on third down. Last week it seemed like they couldn’t get off the field on third down because the running backs were running free out of the backfield and the corner backs were playing a little soft. And then offensively, just to be able to sustain drives and maybe a little bit of creativity from the offense to show some explosiveness. Maybe the receivers separating a little bit more. They lacked big plays last year, that’s why they drafted Travis Etienne in the first round this year with the 25th pick. So I would like to see a big play, for someone to show that they can score quickly.
HR: My last question is when the Jags and Saints play again in 2023, do you think the Jags will be a playoff caliber team by then?
TW: I think the Jags will be a team that folks expect to go to the playoffs in 2023. If they’re not by then, I don’t think Urban is going to last long.
Big thanks to Tony Wiggins for the interview. He can be found on twitter here: @ShopTalkingWigg
Locked on Saints and other podcasts in the Locked On network such as Locked on Jaguars can be found on Spotify, Google, and Apple podcasts as well as on YouTube.
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