A.J. Bouye trade grade: Broncos get bargain for former Pro Bowl cornerback, Jaguars unload massive contract

The Denver Broncos pulled off the first big move of the NFL offseason, acquiring cornerback A.J. Bouye from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2020 fourth-round pick. The Broncos will take on the remaining two years of Bouye's contract while the Jaguars continue the rebuild of their franchise, as Bouye was the final member of the secondary from the team that reached the 2017 AFC Championship Game. 

So, who got the better of the deal? Here are our grades for each team: 

Broncos Trade Grade: A-

The Broncos were in the cornerback market with Chris Harris Jr. set to become a free agent, jumping the gun on Bouye before the Jaguars would eventually release him. Even better, Bouye wanted to go to Denver after studying film on Vic Fangio's scheme and getting a feel for the organization. All the Broncos had to give up was a fourth-round pick for the former Pro Bowler. 

Bouye had arguably the worst season of his career last year, finishing with 65 tackles, eight passes defensed and an interception in 14 games. He struggled in coverage, allowing 60 catches for 855 yards and three touchdowns. Opposing quarterbacks completed 65.2% of their passes and had a 101.5 passer rating when targeting Bouye. That's why the price tag was so low for acquiring him, along with the remaining two years and $30,937,500 on his contract. Bouye is still one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL, ranking seventh in terms of average annual value (which was determined when he signed his five-year, $67.5 million deal in 2017). 

So why do the Broncos receive such a high grade for Bouye? Denver is still acquiring a 28-year old cornerback that is in the prime of his career. Bouye's style of play was no longer valuable in Jacksonville under defensive coordinator Todd Wash, but he's an excellent fit playing in Denver under head coach Vic Fangio. In Fangio's scheme, cornerbacks that can stop the run and can play on both sides of the field benefit, two massive strengths in Bouye's game. Putting Bouye on the outside with a scheme that suits him was a perfect low-risk, high-reward move for the Broncos. 

Denver only parted ways with the No. 137 overall pick, so the Broncos traded a low fourth-round pick to acquire Bouye. That pick the Broncos sent to Jacksonville was acquired in the Emmanuel Sanders trade last October (Denver also received a third-round pick in the Sanders deal). Basically, the Broncos received Bouye and a 2020 third-round pick for Sanders, who will be a free agent this offseason. Not a bad haul for Denver. 

Jaguars Trade Grade: B-

The Jaguars weren't going to get much for Bouye with those two years and $30,937,500 left on his contract, but give them credit for being able to unload him and getting the Broncos to honor the remainder of that deal. Jacksonville ends up saving $11,437,500 in cap space (per Over the Cap), leaving them with a projected $32.86 million in available cap space. 

That cap space is needed if the Jaguars want to make a run at any of the available free agents, even though they are in the midst of a rebuild. Jacksonville is trying to get out of the bad contract it gave quarterback Nick Foles and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue wants out (even though the Jaguars plan to place the franchise tag on him). The Jaguars are still trying to repair the damage done by Tom Coughlin, who left a bad stain on the organization as vice President of Football Operations. Even though the Jaguars retained head coach Doug Marrone and defensive coordinator Todd Wash, many of the players from the squad that reached the 2017 AFC Championship Game are gone. The Jaguars still have some work to do, but they have unloaded plenty of good players over the last few years. 

Jacksonville has six picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft (not counting compensatory picks), including two first-round picks. The same scenario applies to 2021, so the Jaguars have done a good job at stocking draft capital for a soft rebuild. 

The Jaguars should have received more for Bouye, but the higher the contract in guaranteed dollars means the lower the draft pick Jacksonville was going to receive. The Jags were fortunate to even unload Bouye. 

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