It’s been four days now since Jaguars star linebacker Telvin Smith suddenly announced that he’s not going to play football this season. And, we’re still no closer to understanding “the why” in that decision.
At the outset, no one is for sure, or at least they aren’t saying so, if there is something seriously wrong, physically, mentally, emotionally or in some combination with Smith or not? And if there is, that obviously supersedes football.
However, the Jaguars organization is still just as surprised by this as everyone. Further, we checked with two sources close to the team that essentially said that they not only haven’t talked to Smith, but still haven’t gotten an explanation from his agent or anyone else, in the last 96 hours, as to why he currently no longer wants to play football for 2019.
The agent, Adisa Bakari, was in contact with the teem, including coach Doug Marrone two weeks ago telling them that Smith was staying away from voluntary workouts to deal with “personal matters.” Yet, Bakari did not give the Jaguars any advanced warning of Smith’s intention until the fifth year linebacker released his statement on Instagram last Thursday afternoon.
So, we’re left to wonder and wait for more information to come out. Reporters continue to dig and work sources to find out what’s really behind Smith, who is in the prime of his career, suddenly wanting to walk away for a season.
And the rumors and speculation are running wild:
Is it a drug or alcohol situation and his needs extended treatment?
That is obviously serious, but you would think that he and/or he representatives would have announced that. And certainly, the team and NFL have great treatment programs to help players, etc. with substance abuse issues. So, it’s strange that he would not be informing the team and asking them to help.
Is it a money thing?
That’s highly unlikely, especially when Smith made $11 million a year ago, his most single season salary by more than double in his career. Smith also had $5 million of his $9.7 million 2019 salary guarantee back in March, as a roster bonus. And, that’s money that the team will now try to get back from him for him staying away (if he stays away) this summer and this season.
Is it concern over head trauma, concussions, possible CTE later in life, etc?
While this is possible, we did some digging and there is no known concussion issue with Smith, at least over the last couple of seasons. So, if he does have those concerns, it would be “news” to everyone involved. And in fairness, there have been other players step away for the same fears like Ravens starting offensive lineman John Urschel who did so in 2017 at age 26 over head trauma fears for later in life.
Could Smith be intending to still report to camp/preseason later on?
Yes, you have to make room for the possibility that Smith’s announcement and absence so far in the non- critical months of the off season could be temporary. And, he could change his mind, report to the team at some point later this summer/in the preseason and still, play this year.
He obviously has huge financial motivation to that, as the Jaguars will look to void his roster bonus and recoup that money, if he stays away from mandatory training camp, preseason and then regular season games.
"I would not be dancing around, doing Instagram posts, telling people to wake up if I was about to give up $9 million." – @TonyBoselli on Telvin Smith
— 1010 XL / 92.5 FM (@1010XL) May 13, 2019
For now, just as the Jags themselves, Smith has us all guessing, what’s next?
Jags QB Foles returns to face Colts Sunday in key South battle
Nick Foles will be making his return to the field with the Jaguars after recovering from the broken collarbone he suffered in the season opener. There’s a lot of hope riding on his return that he can recharge the struggling offense as they head into the playoff race.
Foles spoke with the media on Wednesday and addressed what it’s like reentering into the season midway through, especially going into an ACF south matchup right off the bat.
Quarterback Nick Foles meets the media following today's practice. https://t.co/SPhDErCIdn
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) November 13, 2019
“Its harder. Guys have been playing for a long time. More is on the line. Offenses and cultures and teams have been developed… That’s the biggest challenge of stepping back in and playing football when it’s been awhile. But I look forward to the challenge because of the guys I get to step into the huddle with and be with on the sidelines”
Foles is reclaiming the starting spot from rookie Gardner Minshew who has done his fair share of not only bringing home a couple of solid wins, but bringing life back to the Jacksonville franchise.
But, Minshew made it easier for Marrone and the Jaguars to make the decision to put him on the bench, when he played poorly and threw a couple of horrible interceptions in the fourth quarter of the 26 – 3 loss to Houston two weeks ago at Wembley Stadium.
In fairness, not much had been going right throughout the day on either side of the ball for the Jaguars in that game, and Minshew had been really good with 13 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions over his previous seven games before London.
Clearly, it’s the safer play for Jaguars to go back to the Super Bowl hero from two years ago in Foles, whom they gave a massive contract to in March.
Jacksonville landed the former Eagles QB by guaranteeing him $50 million on a four-year contract. That’s the richest deal that the Jags have never given to a quarterback in their 25-year franchise history.
And, they have hoped all along that his veteran leadership and downfield passing arm will provide their offensive some needed help. His efficiency and decisiveness on offense, especially when under pressure, could bring the Jags as much success as he saw in his time in Philadelphia.
According to Pro Football Focus, Foles completed 44 out of 73 of his passes (60.3%) for 566 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions while under pressure. Against the blitz, Foles completed 37 out of 51 (72.5) passes for 457 yards and four touchdowns.
While Minshew put up solid numbers, passing for 2,285 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine total games, he struggles significantly more when under pressure, which is why its safer so go with the vet late in the season.
Foles has been back at practice for about two weeks and had a bye this past weekend to prepare for divisional matchup with the Colts. It will be a huge first test back, as they travel to Indianapolis to try and start a run in a game that will greatly affect playoff chances.
Jaguars Khan Wednesday- “no plans to move team to London”
Having just played and lost their most recent home away from home game in London, the Jaguars are on their bye week, but owner Shad Khan was making some news on Wednesday night talking about the possibility of playing more than just a game a season in England.
Khan appeared on the NFL themed half hour highlight and interview show called “The Grind,” that airs on the Epix premium cable network. And, the show is hosted by NFL Network’s Rich Eisen.
The show profiled Khan rising from meagher upbringing in Pakistan to eventually becoming a billionaire businessman in the U.S. and now, sports franchise owner of the Jaguars and Fulham FC of the English Premier Soccer League.
But, of particular of interest was when Eisen began to talk to Khan in a taped interview from last week about the Jaguars potentially playing more than a game in London or moving altogether to England?
With the subject of an @NFL team moving to London being a very hot topic, I sat down with @Jaguars owner Shad Khan in the UK and asked just how viable that is. And if that relocated team could possibly be his.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) November 6, 2019
He first asked the Jaguars boss about the possibility of any team moving full-time to England to which Khan responded,
Personally, in my humble opinion, I don’t think it’s anywhere close to that (demand for full time team/16 games in England). We don’t want to have more games than there’s organic demand for.”
Eisen, then followed up with the logical question that everyone in North Florida and around the NFL seems to speculate about with the Jaguars, would Khan completely relocate to England?
Khan answered matter-of-factly,
“Well, I think, no. There are no plans to move the team to London.”
Obviously, that is an answer that is generic and one that Khan, who still has a lease at TIAA Bank Field and big business interest in Jacksonville, has to give.
The NFL currently plays four international games in London, and the belief is when the new collective bargaining agreement comes around in another two years, that the number may increase to 8 games with the potential of 16. In that case, every team in the league would play every year in London.
All of that is theoretical though at the moment.
What we do know is the Jaguars have had a multi-year agreement in place to continually play in England and Khan reiterated on the show that it’s been very beneficial financially, if not essential, to help his bottom line with the Jaguars staying in Jacksonville.
Obviously, circumstances and answers can change in the future, including the number of games the Jags might play in a season in the U.K. in the future.
And Khan (and everyone else paying attention) knows that, too.
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