With the exception of rookie Cam Robinson, who has taken over at left tackle, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been working the same players at the same positions along their offensive line as they did a year ago.
That may not be the case for much longer.
After a horrid outing against the Buccaneers both in practices and in the preseason game last week, Patrick Omameh has lost whatever kind of a hold he might have previously had on the starting left guard job.
Coach Doug Marrone made that clear on Monday, when he compared the situation he now has at left guard to the situation he has at quarterback, where the competition for the starter’s job is suddenly wide open.
“Coming off that last game, it’s not good enough, not what we’re looking for,’’ Marrone said of Omameh’s play at left guard. “So we’ve been rotating some players (there).
“It’s the same type of situation (as at quarterback where Blake Bortles is being challenged for starters reps by Chad Henne). We’re trying to find someone who will go in there and take the position.’’
Luke Joeckel took the position last year, but the Jaguars wound up handing it to Omameh after Joeckel had to be placed on injured reserve with a left knee injury in early October.
Omameh actually fared rather well a year ago, particular as a pass protector, before going down with a season-ending left foot injury and having to be placed on IR himself after seven starts.
Omameh performed well enough, in fact, to further solidify the Jaguars decision to move on from Joeckel, who signed with the Seahawks in free agency, and he arrived at camp last month as the likely starter.
So far, though, Omameh has been very inconsistent both in camp drills and in preseason games, playing rather well against a bunch of Patriots backups in Week 1 but struggling against the Bucs starters in Week 2.
The situation has some wondering if the Jaguars will consider moving their best lineman, center Brandon Linder, back to left guard, but that seems like it could be a last resort.
Right now, Luke Bowanko is among those getting work there, but Bowanko can play center, too, so it’s possible Bowanko could move to replace Linder in the middle so that middle can fill the hole at guard.
That may seem like a drastic move, but keep in mind that the Jaguars are determined to become a power-rush-oriented team on offense this year and their current alignment isn’t allowing them to do that.
It didn’t against the Bucs anyway. Granted, they didn’t have Leonard Fournette in the game but the likes of Corey Grant, Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon ran 20 times for just 57 yards against Tampa Bay.
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?