It’s only February, and we don’t even know who the free agents are, much less, the draft picks for the 32 teams that will play the 2019 NFL season? However, on the Wednesday morning edition of “Good Morning Football,” the popular NFL Network Morning Show, their hosts wasted no time in weighing in with two state NFL teams that they believe are destined to turn it around this year.
The show topic was going “worst-to-first in 2019,” and co-hosts Kyle Brandt and former Seahawks and Lions receiver and kick returner Nate Burleson both propped up the Buccaneers and then, the Jaguars:
— GMFB (@gmfb) February 13, 2019
Of his reasoning why the Buccaneers would turn around from 5 and 11 to a first place can’t ending NFC South team, Brant said:
“We know the Bruce Arians ‘Mt. Rushmore of Quarterbacks.’ I feel this is like the old detective. That, ‘one last job.’ Guy can fix Jameis (Winston) to his full potential. You know they’re crazy talented. They always have been….I think there’s opportunity in the NFC South, especially with Cam (Newton) banged up. Watch out for the Bucs.”
As for Burleson he wasted no time in saying with the Jaguars would bounce back:
“The Jaguars are picking 7th. If they don’t get Nick Foles in free agency, which some say could be the landing spot, what if they get a guy by the name of Kyler Murray? And he spices up that offense with Leonard Fournette who is trying to get himself back to where he needs to be. Also that defense is still there, one of the best in the business.”
Obviously, the Buccaneers are in a much better situation in that they have an established quarterback that Arians believes in, and there are passing weapons around Winston that have a chance to make the Bucs really good again offensively, like they were in 2018. Tampa Bay led the NFL with over 5,000 yards in total offense.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars have complete uncertainty at this point at quarterback, as Burleson alluded to, whether it’s going to be a free agent or a trade for a veteran or perhaps drafting someone like Murray, if he’s still there?
Further, there’s uncertainty around Fournette and whether or not he will ever live up to the potential and the flashes that we’re seeing in 2017, no matter who is the signal caller.
Still, these kind of debates are fun and there were at least a dozen teams that Brandt or Burleson could have picked instead of the Buccaneers and the Jaguars. And, for the record co-hosts Peter Schrager and M.J. Acosta took the Giants and the Raiders respectively, as two of those other teams Wednesday morning
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?