He is the most prominent free agent still sitting out there, and it looks like, for now, Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant is willing to play the waiting game.
His obvious and very public flirtation with the Cleveland Browns, that even included him being part of last week’s HBO “Hard Knocks” episode, has apparently cooled. The Browns are ready to wrap up the preseason and set their final 53-man roster this weekend.
And, even after a season-ending knee injury to wide receiver Marqise Lee Saturday night in the Jaguars preseason game with the Falcons, at the moment it doesn’t appear that the Jags have much interest in bringing the eight year veteran former Cowboys star in.
And then, there was late Monday night on social media where Bryant decided to relay some of his feelings and game plan for signing with any team:
I can I just have to take care of me first….gave to much love and not received at least half back…I will play ball this year just might be a lil bit later in the year.. we will see https://t.co/9FVMcgX4K1
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) August 28, 2018
Bryant posted that he was needing to “take care of me first,” and that it might be “a lil bit later in the year.. we will see” before he agrees with a team.
Then, when a random “Twitter Troll” accused Bryant of sounding desperate, he fired back quickly and revealed something else:
I know you want that garbage that’s coming out of your mouth to be true..but check this.. I can sign before this season start..if I don’t.. I will make less money which more likely to happen..I want to be right.. that’s my focus right now..life is great over here https://t.co/P188ftT5Bm
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) August 28, 2018
“I can sign before the season start.. if I don’t.. I will make less money which more likely to happen,” Bryant tweeted.
That’s obviously in reference to Cleveland and that he has at least an offer on the table from the Browns. Yet, Bryant is weighing taking less money to be on a better team, once the real season starts.
Maybe that team is Jacksonville?
As we have written over the last couple of days, the Jaguars do have 11 million dollars or so under their salary cap at the moment with their final cuts and 53-man roster coming.
Again, there’s been no outward indication that the Jags have serious interest in Bryant. However, it’s undeniable that VP of Football, Tom Coughlin, got a “belly full” of watching Dez Bryant do damage against his New York Giants year after year.
And it’s also undeniable that the Jaguars don’t have anyone on their roster that is a proven dynamic playmaker and reliable third down threat like what Bryant is. He will turn 30 in November but comes off a 2017 with 69 receptions with six TDs in Dallas.
And, he easily has two or three solid years left.
The main question is, does his production overshadow the selfishness and problems that he can cause in a locker room?
Maybe he is content to wait for the start of the season, or maybe this is the Dez Bryant leverage play to get a deal done with Cleveland or someone else this week?
We are about to find out.
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?