The Jacksonville Jaguars and defensive end Calais Campbell may be headed toward a tug-o-war over his 2020 salary.
The hardest sales job Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell may have this off-season isn’t in trying to negotiate a new deal with Yannick Ngakoue. It might be trying to convince veteran pass rusher, Calais Campbell, to take a pay cut to remain on the team.
Campbell has stated he wants to remain in Jacksonville and feels he has plenty of football left to offer this organization, but his price tag for next season may not be what the team is willing or able to spend given there are other needs and other players they must keep under contract.
It was Caldwell who negotiated with Campbell in 2017 about coming to Jacksonville to help rebuild the troubled franchise. The big man immediately became the face of the defense.
The 33-year-old has been a leader on and off the field, which there is no price tag for. But in a business where the money is the ultimate ruler, Campbell, who has made the Pro Bowl for the third straight year as a member of the Black and Teal, may not want to accept what the team offers this off-season. In a perfect pigskin world, Caldwell would be able to maneuver money around to keep both pass rushers happy.
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That isn’t always the case especially when a team like the Jaguars is up against the wall and the clock with very little to spend.
"“If Calais Campbell remains on the roster under his current contract, the Jaguars would take on a $17.5 million cap number in 2020. If they release him, they would save $15 million,” John Reid of the Florida Times-Union explains."
It really becomes simple math. Making the All-Star Game for the third time in as many years is quite an accomplishment, but the fact remains Campbell isn’t getting any younger and his production did slip this year.
The former second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals spent the season playing outside at the big end position and inside at tackle, which allowed rookie Josh Allen to grab 10,5 sacks this season and join the veteran in Orlando.
With the Jaguars other issue on the defensive line, Ngakoue saw his sack total diminish while his motor and productivity in the second half of the season increased. He is facing the real possibility of playing in another market next season. Caldwell believes as he has stated at different times this offseason, signing Ngakpue shouldn’t be an issue but may take some time getting done.
The 24-year-old fourth-year pro turned down the contract offer from the team before the start of training camp which was believed to be somewhere around four years and $19 million per season.
Teams such as the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, and Buffalo Bills have all been rumored as destinations should the former Maryland star hits free agency. Several publications have him listen amongst the top 10 free agents should he not be able to strike a deal with the team that brought him to the NFL.
Having to pick and choose which player to keep and which one to go is enough to keep Caldwell up at night. It also presents the first real challenge he faces after he was told his job was safe for at least this year by team owner Shad Khan. With a mandate to win now and improve upon a 6-10 record from last year, Caldwell, head coach Doug Marrone, and the franchise’s coaching staff are going to need all of the veteran help they can get.
If it was to come to this, not having Campbell around is far more detrimental to the growth and development of the young players on this defense under coordinator Todd Wash.
The day after the final game of the season, which was a 38-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts, Campbell told the local media he is still under contract and plans to be in Jacksonville for the 2020 season. Now, speaking with Reid in Orlando this week, he is fully aware of the team’s situation and hopes something can be worked out.
"“You have to pay for talent, and I’m a very talented player. So I don’t think my cap number is too high at all, based on my performance,″ Campbell said. “But I understand what the situation is with the team not in a great cap situation. But these guys are really good at this, and they’re going to make it work.″"