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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars and Bucs in action for our Sunday primer

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the three state NFL teams will be in action on Sunday with the Bucs on the road and the Jaguars at home. The Dolphins get an extra day to be ready for the Steelers on Monday Night Football.

With that in mind let’s take a look the two teams playing on Sunday.

First in Jacksonville, the Jaguars look to even their record at 4 – 4, as they host lowly Jets at TIAA Bank field.

Jacksonville’s defense overwhelmed Cincinnati last week, especially in the second half. The Jags had four takeaways, including Yannick Ngakoue’s his interception return for a touchdown.

Offensively, RB Leonard Fournette (above) continues to have a good bounce-back 2018 season. Last week he registered 100 or more yards rushing for the third time in four games and has clearly become the bruising, between the tackles weapon that Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator John Defilippo have envisioned.

As for the Jets, they come off a humiliating Monday night shutout loss to the Patriots and have second-year quarterback Sam Darnold, as well as free agent running back Le’Veon Bell. However, Jacksonville should be able to take advantage of this easier opponent and get another win.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are off of their bye week and have traveled to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans.

When last we saw Tampa Bay, they put in a mostly miserable performance in a 37 – 26 loss to the Panthers in London. In that game, quarterback Jameis Winston threw 5 interceptions and also lost a fumble in one of the worst games of his career.

Winston, the former #1 overall pick, needs a bounce back game to get Tampa Bay in the win column and calm down the outcry that the Buccaneers need to look elsewhere for a long-term quarterback.

Ironically, that’s the situation in Nashville, as the Titans have benched the 2015  #2 overall pick, QB Marcus Mariota last week and gone with veteran Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill, the former Dolphins starter, threw for over 300 yards in the Titans dramatic win over the L.A. Chargers.

Tennessee will also look to hammer running back Derrick Henry between the tackles at the buccaneer defense, which has been one of the best ones against the run this season.

The Bucs defense is mostly at full strength with rookie first-round pick Devin White having played against Carolina and now having another two weeks to get fully recovered from a sprained knee earlier in the year.

Tampa Bay will also apparently welcome back defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, as he has been activated off the “Non-football injury list” and is eligible to play for the first time this season. Pierre-paul suffered a neck fracture in a car accident back in May has made a tremendous recovery 5 months later to be able to practice without having surgery.

The veteran led the Buccaneers in sacks with 12.5 a year ago and could greatly bolster their pass rush.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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:

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.

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Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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 was a specifically asked about Dareus’ status and gave a quick answer is part of his Q&A session:

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?

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