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Mystery continues but Jaguars Fournette not likely to play

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Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

While they didn’t come out and say it, don’t look for Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette to play Sunday in the huge AFC Championship Game rematch with the Patriots.

Jags coach Doug Marrone has been pointing all week to the Friday practice, as the key as to whether Fournette could demonstrate that he could do something with his strained hamstring for this week’s game.

Well,  practice has come and gone, and Fournette was not able to participate in the workout. So that info alone, says that the strained hamstring is bothersome enough to keep Fournette out of the lineup this week.

The Jags are officially listing the second-year running back out of LSU as “questionable,” but that may very well it just be gamesmanship ala, Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

Fournette suffered the injury catching a pass in the second quarter of Sunday’s 20 – 15 win in New York against the Giants. He did not return.

And in his absence, backup running back T.J. Yeldon once again fared well. Yeldon continued his recent trend of filling the void both running and receiving. Sunday he finished with 51 yards on 14 carries. He also caught a one yard TD pass in the first half from Bortles.

Yeldon and third string back Corey Grant will now, apparently be more counted on for the match-up Sunday.

UPDATE: The Jaguars basically gave away that Fournette is not going to play against New England as they made this move Saturday:

Brandon Wilds ran successfully in preseason and would be an emergency option to see playing time.

A larger point in all of this is: Fournette’s injury may be minor for now and this may be the only game that he has to miss. And while it is an important early season game, if he were to go out and aggravate the hamstring worse, Fournette might be out four games, six games or more, because of it.

That’s a risk that Marrone, and the Jaguars front office have to consider strongly in trying to have him play this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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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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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