As the Jaguars play their final game of 2018 Sunday in Houston, there is much uncertainty on the field and in the front office. Off a breakout season a year ago where they won the AFC South and two playoff games, the Jags regressed badly and quickly, losing nine of 10 games in the middle to the end of this year.
However, we take a look at three players who quite possibly are playing their final game for the Jaguars someday.
Bortles is the most obvious one on the list. Even though he has been reinstalled as the starter for this finale’ Sunday, Jacksonville told everyone all they needed to know about his future, when they sent him to the bench in November. And further, when veteran backup Cody Kessler faltered over the past four weeks and Marrone and the team did not put Bortles back in, it’s clear they are moving on from him.
Most of his contract extension from January was front-loaded for 2018 and there will be less of a blow after this season for them to get rid of the former first round pick of 2014. To his credit, Bortles has smiled and remained a team guy, publicly. And, he will get one last chance to show what he can do against a Houston team that has to win for the AFC playoff picture this weekend.
However, there’s not really a conceivable scenario where Bortles comes back as the quarterback in 2019.
Having a previous relationship with Marrone in Buffalo, the Jags traded for Dareus last year and he helped them flourish defensively. The massive defensive tackle is good as a run-stopper and playing on the interior line with the likes of Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, as they built one of the best defenses in the NFL for 2017.
However, as the song goes: “That was then, and this, is now.”
Dareus’ numbers have been adequate this season and Pro Football Focus ranks him in the “good” category along defensive tackles. Still the reality of the NFL is you’re always looking to get younger and cheaper. To that point, Dareus is due $2 million roster bonus in March and scheduled to make $10.6 million dollars next season at 29 years of age.
Most importantly, his contract is not guaranteed and it can be reworked or completely done away with, if the Jaguars want. Particularly, if they believe more in first round pick from this past April, Taven Bryan, then it makes Dareus expendable at that price.
We will judge it at a “50 – 50 proposition” the Darius comes back.
While on the surface, it seems crazy that Ramsey could be playing his final game in Jaguars Black and Teal, the reality is: the off-field headaches and his antics may outweigh Ramsey’s talent on field.
Ramsey was just named for his second Pro Bowl and is one of the premier cover corners in the NFL. But, the former top-five pick out of Florida State has created controversy throughout the last couple of seasons. And, that alone may put him in jeopardy of being shipped out.
A report surfaced in November that Jacksonville would try to trade Ramsey this off-season, which the Jaguars quickly denied. Then again, what were they supposed to say, while the season is going on about their plans with Ramsay in the off-season?
The other two key components are: Ramsey is about to enter the final year of his rookie four-year deal and is still relatively inexpensive for his level of play. With the Jaguars entertain giving him a massive long term contract? That is questionable it best.
What’s not questionable is: Jacksonville could easily get a first-round pick, and maybe a couple of quality draft picks, in return for Ramsey in a trade. And, they now may be inclined to do so to help them rebuild.
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