As I said, it's never about "can you fit under the cap?", or "do you spend all your cap space?" Because you can fit under the cap certainly. Actually, you have to, that's the rule. And most teams do spend their cap space. That's the point. Use it all if possible. The Patriots use it all usually, the Steelers use it all usually, etc. Most teams do. Actually, the Colts do use almost all of their 2019 cap space too. (The 2019 total sum of contracts is a bit over 184 million, just a few mills under the cap. That "40ish cap space" is already nothing else but the rollovers from previous years.)
But, even with spending all the cap space, there is good cap management, and there is bad cap management. The Patriots spend all of their cap space, and they manage it very effectively. The Colts (now) spend all of their (excluding rollover), and I belive Ballard manages the cap very effectively. But the Jags didn't. They went over the line, and sacrifized their future effectiveness by getting into bidding wars and signing pricey free agents one after another. The problem wasn't Norwell. If it was only him, that would be ok. The problem was, that they also signed Moncrief for 10M, Jenkins for 6M, Church for 7M, traded for Hyde and payed him 4M and he barely saw the field, etc, etc. The list is very long.
I never said that having elite talents heading into their second contract is a burden. You are right, that is a blessing. Actually, that is the best that can happen to a team. That's what Ballard want's to do! The problem is, that the Jaguars got into a situation, when there is a very good chance that they cannot sign their own guys. And their roster got thin, because they could not refill it this offseason enough. They got worse. And they will become even worse in 2020, because they won't be able to retain their talent level. Yes, they can cut Campbell, they can cut Bouye, and they can trade Ngakogue, and fit under the cap. And then? Who will play at CB, who will play at DE? A mediocre somebody. So, instead of improving their team, they actually made it worse. That's the bad management. Cap wise and talent wise as well. (However, I do agree, that they kinda draft OK recently - one year exceptionally well, but still OK since then, so their talent infusion is somewhat OK. What they screwed up big time is cap management.)
Btw, this is an old story repeating itself. Coughlin has been with the Jags before. And he drove them into cap hell before. It was bad, it cost them years to recover. He's just doing it all over again. He is (was) a very good coach, but terrible at managing the cap.
I like Reich's quotes here:
“It’s impossible for me to have a higher opinion of Jacoby than I do,” Reich says. “I said it last year, I think he’s a top 20 quarterback. I still say that. After watching him for a year, this guy’s really good.
“I tell Chris all the time, ‘Please don’t let him go. I don’t care what anybody offers him. Don’t let him go.’ I love Jacoby. The problem is now I’ve gotten to know Jacoby and, at some point, I hope that it works out for Jacoby. But not now.”
How is the number of UDFAs significant to anything?
For the record, the Colts actually signed 11 UDFAs...JAC signed 21.
BTW, here are some of the "better teams" and the number of UDFAs this year:
HOU - 20
KC - 23
CHI - 22
LAR - 19
LAC - 19
I see no clear correlation between "better teams", thin rosters and UDFAs. There is more of a correlation between the number of draft picks and UDFAs, if anything. Those teams typically had less draft picks...and therefore...more roster spots to give to UDFAs. And UDFAs understand this as well...and see a better path to making a roster if a draft pick is not in their way.
In 2018, the Colts...in the first year of a new offensive and defensive scheme...coming off a 4-win season...signed only 10 UDFAs...because they had 11 draft picks...which makes sense. But that roster was by no means deep.