The Jacksonville Jaguars have already begun trimming their roster to create more cap space with free agency looming next month.
Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Jacksonville Jaguars are about to clear some cap space by releasing defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. the move, which was a foregone conclusion even as far back as the middle of last season, should become official in the next day or so.
But as Jaguars general manager David Caldwell stated today when he met with the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the organization is open to bringing him back under a different salary-cap figure. This move alone saves the Jaguars around $20 million which can be applied elsewhere to sign free agents from other teams or to help sign defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is still seeking a long-term deal.
The Jaguars had problems with their run defense the majority of the season why Dareus was on the injured reserve list, dealing with a core muscle injury. They were left with Abry Jones and Taven Bryan getting the majority of reps in the interior of the defense, with Calais Campbell playing inside as well.
Dawuane Smoot, who had his best season as a pro with six sacks, also spent time inside at defensive tackle. Should the team keep the roster the way it is for now, and Dareus is not brought back to Jacksonville, then the position becomes one of the top needs in both free agency and the NFL Draft.
Depending on how much money is available under the cap will determine if the Jaguars, 6-10 last season, will be players in negotiating with high-priced stars.
As Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com wrote back in January, fixing the issues on the defensive front, mainly with the run defense, if the front office’s biggest task this offseason. He even discussed the implications of Dareus’ contract this offseason.
"“The Jaguars finished 28th in rushing defense and gave up more than 200 yards on the ground four times,” he wrote.More from Jacksonville Jaguars NewsJacksonville Jaguars should welcome Derrick Henry into the kingdomJaguars Rumors: Trent Baalke seems to be getting respect nowJaguars News: This division rival might be making a big moveFormer Jacksonville Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien: “New Profession, Same Standards”Jacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram officially gets the franchise tag: 3 takeaways“They’re not bringing back defensive tackle Marcell Dareus ($20 million cap savings), and 2018 first-round pick Taven Bryan, who played well in the season finale, has been largely disappointing. Jacksonville has major needs at other positions (linebacker, left tackle, receiver, and cornerback), but the defensive front is the key to the team’s resurgence in 2020.”"
Jacksonville’s front office figures to continue to work through negotiations with other high-priced veterans, who may be asked to rework their deals to relieve the cap situation in even more. NFL teams can officially use the franchise tag on players they wish to keep on the roster on a one-year deal for 2020 starting on Friday.
Yannick Ngakoue, the team’s stud pass rusher, figures to be one of those players in the NFL who is tagged while negotiating a long-term deal.