Oklahoma Heisman winning quarterback Kyler Murray made it official Monday afternoon that he will, in fact, declare early for the NFL draft in April. While opinions vary on Murray’s size and whether his talents will translate in pro football, one thing is for sure: the Jaguars are in the mix at the top of round one.
I have declared for the NFL Draft.
— Kyler Murray (@TheKylerMurray) January 14, 2019
He’s also considering a huge guaranteed baseball offer from the Oakland A’s who hold his rights. However, that would not have a guarantee of him playing for the Major league Club.
And while Murray (shown in Orange Bowl loss to Alabama above) may still take the baseball option, he had the deadline of midnight Eastern Monday night to make himself available for consideration by NFL teams for this Spring.
Now, where Murray might ended up in the Draft selection process is up for conjecture.
.@RapSheet breaks down Kyler Murray's decision to declare for the draft and which round he is projected to go in 🔊🆙
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 14, 2019
And while there are other draft analysts and NFL information guys saying that Murray projects, as probably a night two second or third round pick. Still, he could gain momentum headed to the first round opening night too.
And, that’s where the Jaguars could come into play for Murray, too.
It’s well-known that Jacksonville is looking for a long-term solution at quarterback. They will be moving on from Blake Bortles one way or another.
Will that be a QB in free agency or perhaps, a trade or will Jacksonville elect to take a risk, right where they are, currently picking 7th overall?
The Jaguars elected not to select another Heisman QB winner, Lamar Jackson of Louisville, at the end of the first round last April. They instead took for the defensive tackle Taven Bryan.
The previous year they also passed on taking a quarterback in the top five, where Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes were both available. And, we know how both of those guys figured into 2018 leading their teams to the playoffs.
The six teams currently picking in front of the Jaguars are: the Cardinals, 49ers, Jets, Raiders, Buccaneers and Giants. And, out of that group only New York doesn’t have a recently drafted or signed long term quarterback to consider, as a franchise guy for the future.
Jacksonville could also try to make a trade to move up, poetntially involving running back Leonard Fournette or defensive back Jalen Ramsey as bait, if they so desired.
Then again, they could simply sit and wait to see what happens at #7 and if Murray would still be available, too.
It’s definitely way early, and again, Murray is slated to go to A’s Spring Training in Februrary, and could still agree with them long term.
However, declaring for the NFL Draft means Murray wants to be taken in the first round, and play football.
Now, what does the NFL in general and the Jaguars in specific, want to do?
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?