It has definitely been an interesting Thursday involving the owner of the Jaguars, Shad Khan, and his intent to purchase famed Wembley Stadium in London.
Not only that, the rumor-mongering from the British press continues that Khan maybe looking to either move the Jags to London completely, or is seriously considering splitting half of their home schedule between TIAA Bank field in Jacksonville and London.
First, about the purchase of Wembley itself. As we have written, Khan is currently the highest bidder and the front-runner to acquire the stadium for over $700 million U.S. dollars. And, Thursday afternoon in London the Football Association or “FA,” which governs the entire sport in England, met and discussed Khans bid.
While there was a definite possibility that they could have gone ahead and approved the sale to the Jaguars owner, who also owns the English Premier League team Fulham FC, the FA chose not to do that Thursday.
Instead, they have elected to hold a special meeting of the FA Council on Wednesday October 24th to address mounting opposition from the over 22,000 members of the FA. That includes soccer teams, referees, adult and youth players, coaches, volunteers and members of the public that are part of the organization.
The governing body announced after their Thursday meeting that they want to take all of the opposition into consideration before rubber-stamping the sale to the billionaire Khan, who is a Pakistani immigrant to the U.S.
Now, for the part that fans in North Florida are tired of hearing, but will not go away. The London Daily Mail reported Thursday afternoon that Khan is looking seriously into playing multiple, if not all Jaguar home games at Wembley Stadium to enhance the cash flow and offset his purchase price. However, the article does point out there are severe U.S. and British tax consequences for Khan and for his players and organization, if he moves operations to London.
The Daily Mail says that one theory that makes sense is: that the team would remain based in Jacksonville year-round, including having training camp in Jacksonville and playing up to four games at TIAA Bank Field. However, they would then replace the entire NFL International Series with four Jaguar games being played at Wembley Stadium, as the other half of the Jags regular season home schedule.
It’s important to point out, that this is only a speculative theory.
And, most importantly, that the NFL and its owners would have to approve such an arrangement with a 3/4 vote. And, this is assuming the Khan would even want to split half a season in London home games in the first place.
There’s also a strong argument and, this is where the NFL players Association might get involved, it would be completely unfair to the Jaguar players. You would essentially be having them play four home games in Jacksonville and 12 games away from Jacksonville that you would have to travel to. Clearly, it’s an unfair situation to single out one team and its players, and put them at competitive disadvantage for division and playoff purposes.
Khan released this official statement Thursday afternoon with regard to the FA meeting and action on scheduling another meeting in 13 days:
Latest from Shad Khan on offer to buy Wembley after plans were presented to FA Council pic.twitter.com/VoHhhzooPY
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) October 11, 2018
The Jaguars had no official comment over the last two days on any of the reports in the London media specifically, that Khan still intends to move the Jaguars to Jacksonville in 2022 or shortly thereafter, once he owns Wembley Stadium.
They will play the Philadelphia Eagles at Wembley four days after the special meeting on Sunday October 28th.
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?