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Jaguars showed belief in rookie QB Minshew Thursday

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James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

We know that the Jacksonville Jaguars are fully committed to Nick Foles being their leader at quarterback. However on Thursday, they made an interesting commitment to another new QB, as well.

That’s when the Jaguars not only announced the signing of sixth round pick QB Gardner Minshew out of Washington State, but also the release of last year’s veteran backup quarterback, Cody Kessler:

First on Minshew (shown in the snowy game with rival Washington last year). He was a graduate transfer from East Carolina, and had a fantastic one season for Mike Leach’s “Air Raid Offense” at Washington State a year ago.

Minshew was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year leading the country in passing yards per game (367.6), and third nationally in completion percentage at 71%. He was fourth in touchdown passes with 38, and Washington State set a school and Pac 12 record with 4,898 yards of offense with Minshew throwing  for at least 400 yards in 6 games.

Finally, Minshew finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting for 2018, as well.

Obviously, Coach Doug Marrone and new offensive coordinator John Defilippo loved Minshew enough not only to draft him, but to believe that he can step in, if needed for the upcoming season. That’s because the Jaguars don’t have another very experienced quarterback with virtual unknowns Tanner Lee and Alex McGough, as the other options at the moment.

The Jaguars turned to Cody Kessler after benching starter Blake Bortles in November, and he went 2 – 2 but was largely ineffective trying to throw the ball. He finished with just 709 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions in five games played.

Obviously, Jacksonville is counting on Foles, who was the Super Bowl 52 MVP for the Eagles in their win over the Patriots. That was with Defilippo having been his quarterback coach in Philadelphia.

The former Eagles backup got $25 million to sign with the Jags in March with a fully guaranteed additioanl $15 million salary for 2020, too.

So, that’s definitely a commitment.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?

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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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Jacksonville Jaguars

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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