3 Takeaways on the Addition of Pharoh Cooper: How Is the Depth Chart Impacted?
With a new regime in place, the Jacksonville Jaguars have started the process of wiping the slate clean on both offense and defense. As a result, every single new addition has at least a small chance to make an impression and stick.
Players like this are sometimes held in the same regard as some of the other middle and bottom of the roster players the team's new leaders inherited and didn't acquire. As a result, each addition the Jaguars' new power dynamic of head coach Urban Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke is a noteworthy one.
The Jaguars' newest addition is wide receiver/returner Pharoh Cooper, a former All-Pro and Pro Bowl return man who will be taking the spot of an injured receiver who was set to be key depth for the team.
What does the signing of Cooper mean for the Jaguars moving forward? We break it down below.
Cooper will immediately step into Godwin's role as special teams depth
When Cooper was first signed, a lot of eyebrows were raised among Jaguars' supporters. Coopers' prowess as a return man (and lack of production as a receiver) seemed to make him redundant with the March signing of Jamal Agnew in free agency. But once the Jaguars announced Godwin would be heading to injured reserve, it became much more clear where Cooper fit into the Jaguars' offseason depth chart.
Godwin was one of the team's most explosive and athletic receivers, making him a natural player to consider for punt and kick returning depth behind Agnew. The Jaguars lost two returners in the offseason in Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook, and Godwin had the looks of the player with an inside track to the No. 2 job. With him injured, it makes sense for the Jaguars to find a player with extensive experience as a return man who could also fill in at receiver if needed. Cooper has 82 punt returns for 729 yards and 104 kickoff returns for 2,523 yards and one touchdown in his career and was arguably the league's best return man in 2017 with the Rams, so he is a solid backup behind Agnew in the event one is ever needed.
Younger receivers get a boost
The Jaguars' wide receiver room is arguably the most stacked position on the roster currently. There are a few guarantees to make the roster in DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones, while other players such as Collin Johnson and Phillip Dorsett likely have solid chances to crack the roster as well. Add in Agnew and the receiver position has become a tough one for the Jaguars' rookie receivers to make a name for themselves at.
But for rookies like Jalen Camp (sixth-round), Tim Jones (undrafted free agent) and Josh Imatorbhebhe (undrafted free agent), the addition of Cooper and subsequent subtraction of Godwin from the field is a winning proposition. Godwin had both NFL experience and more experience with this year's coaching and training staff than any of the three. Now, the three are ahead of the curve when it comes to learning the offense, at least compared to Cooper. Cooper has plenty of time to catch up, but the weeks of advantage the young receivers have could be helpful to them later down the road.
Godwin injury is a tough break for a key backup
While the addition of Cooper gives the Jaguars a veteran receiver and return man who has done more at the NFL level in terms of production than Godwin, the injury to the former Georgia Bulldogs receiver and Carolina Panther draft pick is still an unfortunate for all parties involved. Godwin would have had to fight to make the roster in 2021 considering the team's upgraded depth, but he had as good of a shot as any other receiver who was on the bubble.
Godwin has just three catches for 32 yards (10.7 yards per catch) in three career games, but he was still entering this offseason as a key backup. He was a young and athletic receiver the Jaguars' new staff inherited and immediately recognized as a hard worker, with Godwin frequenting the team's facilities to train during the offseason. Godwin was looking explosive and confident in the media's first organized team activity viewing last week as well. The Jaguars found a solid insurance option, but Godwin's undisclosed injury is a tough break for the player and the team.