After weeks of ambiguity into the status of star linebacker Telvin Smith of the Jaguars, we’ve now have somewhat of an answer on Thursday afternoon.
Smith has obviously been troubled by something in his personal and or professional life and he announced on social media that he will step away from the Jaguars and the NFL this season. The linebacker, who is slated to head into his sixth season, made the announcement Thursday afternoon via Instagram:
Jaguars’ LB Telvin Smith announced he will not play football in 2019. pic.twitter.com/GHCMhXmDQb
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2019
Quoting from Smith:
“At this time I must take time away from this game and get my world in order. I must give this time back to myself, my family, & my health.”
Smith had taken to “Instagram Live” on that same account above with a video earlier this week. In which, he answered a couple of questions and comments on the subject of him being gone by reiterating that he had not been traded and he had no intention of leaving Jacksonville and the Jaguars.
The 2017 Pro Bowler was the Jaguars top tackler a year ago with 134 of them, including 100 solo stops, he also had two interceptions one fumble recovery and one sack on the season. Smith, who is a former 5th round pick out of FSU in 2014, has registered 100 or more tackles in each of his five NFL seasons.
During the Jaguars turn around 2017 playoff season, Smith signed a four-year $45 million dollar contract extension the kept him from becoming a free agent at the end of that year. Smith made $9.75 million a year ago and is slated to make $10 million with a $5.6 million dead cap hit for this season.
At least initially, there was no reaction from the Jaguars as to Smith’s announcement.
At 4pm Eastern on a Jaguars internet show on their website, team reporter J.P. Shadrick told the audience that he had been told that the team had not heard from Smith in advance of his announcement on social media.
The team released a statement shortly after:
Statement regarding LB Telvin Smith. pic.twitter.com/0LzdM4K9NC
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) May 9, 2019
There has been speculation that there was some kind of dispute going on between he and the team, as Smith was staying away from voluntary workouts last month. Coach Doug Marrone told the media in late April that he had not spoken Smith, while he has been away from the team.
There will be further speculation with the announcement today, that Smith has some type of alcohol or drug issue that he will be addressing. However, until either he or the team clears that up, it only remains a speculation as to what’s truly going on?
The Jaguars can obviously petition to have Smith put on something like the “Commissioners Exempt List,” where he would not count against the roster, while all of this is trying to be sorted out.
That would also give the team some salary-cap relief, if it’s granted.
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?