The final preseason games of 2019 will be taking place tonight in the shadows of college football. The Bucs, Jags, and Dolphins will all be in action with roster spots on the line.
For the Bucs, all eyes will be on Vincent Testaverde Jr. After Tampa Bay veteran backup Blaine Gabbert suffered a separated left shoulder in the third quarter of Friday night’s preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, the Bucs were in need of a new backup quarterback for tonight’s game against the Cowboys.
Last weekend, a very familiar name joined them, giving the team more depth at the QB position. Testaverde Jr. is the son of the former Heisman Trophy star of the Hurricanes and the former number one overall pick of the Buccaneers, re-signed with the team Saturday afternoon. Testaverde will likely play a good chunk of the game as signal-caller for the Bucs tonight.
Justin Evans will be back tonight and should see some game action look to see how much rust he needs to kick off. It is also an essential game for roster bubble guys like Scotty miller who missed a good chunk of time injured to prove he is worth a roster spot. Look for Tanner Hudson to have a big game with multiple tight ends sitting he could feast against the Dallas backups.
The Jags will be coming into the final preseason game mostly looking for some offense. Obviously without Nick Foles it will all be on Alex McGough and rookie Gardner Minshew. Tonight will be a bigger game for McGough, who is looking to put on one final show to prove he is worth a practice squad spot, as the Jags probably won’t keep 3 QBs. The Jags also have a few running backs and wide receivers playing for the last few open spots. We could also see some action from the Jag’s a few of the Jags young receivers DJ Chark and Keelan Cole even without Foles on the field.
For the Dolphins, everyone has been focused on the Qb battle between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen, but there have been reports that Jake Rudock will be getting significant snaps tonight throws that battle off. This could mean the Dolphins have chosen their guy and it’s a matter of time until we find out. Dolphins coach Brian Flores called this the last chance bowl.
One way to ensure you make the roster is just by playing smart, and the Phins have not been doing that. They had nine penalties for 102 yards against the Jags a week after having 13 for 122 yards. Guys like Patrick Laird and Preston Williams have impressed so far will look to continue that and make the roster.
There will also be Dolphins backup running back battle between Mark Walton, who may be suspended, Kalen Ballage and rookie Myles Gaskin all competing for regular season playing time tonight.
Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?
One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.
Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) February 26, 2020
This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.
Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″
It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:
Doug Marrone: ‘’No doubt where I stand or the coaches.”
—They want Yannick Ngakoue back. pic.twitter.com/vOorH4hH95
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 26, 2020
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially, put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?
Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.
If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.
Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus
At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.
Caldwell confirmed the Jaguars are not picking up DT Marcell Dareus' option.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 25, 2020
Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.
Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.
Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.
However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.
However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.
Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.
As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?