It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Jaguars are once again playing “financial hardball” with another of their “problem child” star players. After all, Telvin Smith is just the latest headache off the field that may be costing himself some, if not all the money, for his future in Jacksonville.
Reports surfaced Saturday that Smith has been notified that he’s facing a fine for having missed Jacksonville Jaguars minicamp. And, Pro Football Talk accurately pointed out there’s a difference between the team threatening to fine him and actually following through with financial punishment.
And, the bigger recoup for Jacksonville is trying to get back the over $5 million roster bonus that they gave to Smith in March, as part of a guarantee on his contract extension. This after Smith informed the team in May that he doesn’t intend on playing this season.
However you look at other situations that Jacksonville has already dealt with in the last year and a half and their handling of Telvin Smith departure it’s right in line with what VP of football Tom Coughlin has instilled from the front office.
A year ago, the Jaguars had not picked up the fifth year option on former number one pick defensive end, Dante Fowler. And, Coughlin and Coach Doug Marrone basically sent a message through the media that Fowler would have to earn a future extension with not only with how he played, but how he would behave, after prior arrests off the field.
Eventually, Fowler was traded to the L.A. Rams at the October deadline, and the Jaguars were sending a clear message to their locker room: there are not many, if any, “untouchables: on our roster.
That would include running back Leonard Fournette, who had an awful injured sophomore season in the NFL. And, it included him being suspended by the league for throwing punches at Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson in a November game from which he was ejected.
And, remaining consistent to what Coughlin wants and has done, the team is trying to avoid the remaining contracts will guarantee he’s in for Nets deal. That process is still being litigated privately by the Jags, and the NFLPA along with Fournette’s representatives. Needless to say, it’s a big season for Fournette, who also has an offseason arrest for traffic violations on his resume and questions about whether he can regain form and become the impact running back he was a rookie in 2017?
And then, there’s outstanding two time Pro Bowl corner, Jalen Ramsey, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Now, unlike Fowler, the team already picked up his fifth year option. Still, Ramsey has also been an off-the-field problem at times over the last couple of seasons, including a training camp suspension by coach Doug Marrone for his behavior.
Bottom line, Ramsey is a great talent, but he’s brash and causes off field issues. So, he knows the team holds the cards on a long-term extension for him. Ramsey further muddied the plot, when he made it clear late last week at Jaguars OTAs that he will not take a “home town discount” to help the Jaguars salary cap and stay in Jacksonville.
So, it’s once again the wait-and-see with the team holding the financial leverage over the player.
And obviously, Smith’s situation is different, because he’s essentially going AWOL and deserted the team, as a captain, while under contract and in the prime of his career.
If he stays away for the season (and it’s still an if at this point) no one can fault the Jaguars for wanting to recoup the money. And, clearly anyone paying attention has to know how Coughlin and Co. will proceed.
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?