You really have to hand it to Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler. He really can talk a good game. He’s yet to play very many of them, but he can sure a talk good one.
He was at it again this week, when he told the Florida Times Union that he realizes it is well past time for him to prove that he can be everything that a third overall draft pick is supposed to be.
“I just want to be able to show I’m a pro and I can be a role model off the field,” Fowler said. “I want to be a big part of the community in Jacksonville.
“I want to be the best. And I know that I can be the best. But the thing is, I got to be able to want it that bad for myself, and I got to be able to showcase it and display it.’’
What Fowler has displayed thus far has been nothing short of disappointing. He missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury and struggled throughout his comeback a year ago.
Meanwhile, off the field, he’s continued to find trouble. He’s been arrested twice over the course of the last 17 months, including once for battery, criminal mischief and petit theft this past July 18.
Fowler, in fact, is due in court in Clearwater to address those misdemeanor charges the day after the Jaguars open their season Sunday against the Texans.
It was against that backdrop, though, that Fowler said he has finally come to understand what’s expected of a player who was drafted to be a franchise cornerstone.
He said came to the realization, at least in part, while repeatedly watching the same cut-ups of himself from the 2016 season, one in which he admits he didn’t quite recognize the player he was seeing.
“I had to look in the mirror a few times you know,” Fowler said. “I soul searched a lot. I was coming off the (torn) ACL injury and I was amped up and excited to get back on the field to be able to play again.
“But my mind wasn’t on knowing what I was about to get myself in, going against the best. I wanted to be great so bad, but the things that I was doing I couldn’t be great by doing that.’’
Fowler still hasn’t achieved great. Just as he did last year he’s slated to start the season working a platoon with Yannick Ngakoue at defensive end. The good news is that coach Doug Marrone sees progress, Progress, though, isn’t enough.
“I’m happy with his effort level,” Marrone said. “I think he’s getting more quality snaps (and) building on that, which is what you want to see from players. Now, the next thing we need is to start getting the results.’’
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?