Day two of the Jaguars mini-camp concluded Wednesday morning in North Florida and new quarterback Nick Foles met with the media to update the status of several subjects.
While Foles talked about getting acclimated to his new surroundings and teammates, it was specifically when he was asked about RB Leonard Fournette, that he wanted to make clear that arguably Jacksonville’s best offensive weapon is someone he’s excited about playing with and seeing what he can do this fall:
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) June 12, 2019
“Leonard’s awesome, dude. He’s a really smart player. He’s a great dude to be around. He’s got a whole other life outside of football. You know, divin’ and spear fishin’. It’s always fun to learn more about a person. More than about a football player…. We’re all more than football players. I try to tell guys all the time in the locker room, if your identity is soley in football, you’re going to be lost….. Lenoard’s that sort of guy.”
This isn’t the first time the relationship of Foles and Fournette has recently been brought up. As we wrote previously, VP of Football Tom Coughlin also made mention that they have been getting together at Fournette’s Jacksonville home to go over the installation of the offense and watch game tape, etc
While this is not uncommon among quarterbacks and their new teammates around the NFL, it still has to be reassuring for Jaguar fans the Foles understands Fournette has a critical role in helping the Jacksonville offense bounce back.
The third-year back out of LSU had a disappointing second season to say the least. After a 1,000 yard rookie season that helped the Jags make the playoffs, Fournette suffered a week one hamstring injury at the Giants and proceeded to miss all or most of the next seven games with it. Fournette was also ejected in the second half of the November loss at Buffalo for fighting and subsequently suspended by the NFL for the next week. He finished with just 439 yards on the season and was a huge disappointment.
Meanwhile. With the hiring of his former quarterback coach in Philadelphia, John DeFilippo, know that the offense will function better, if Fournette can pound the ball between the tackles and set up some play action down-filled throws.
Fournette can also become similarly valuable and get back to something the Jacksonville had a 2017, and that’s being used as a punishing back in the second half of games when the Jags are trying to protect the lead and run the clock.
And at least for now, all the right things are apparently happening off field between QB and RB to make that happen.
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?