Despite the recent moves by the organization and the rumors that have been all over social media, there isn’t a fire sale of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I learned a long time ago while starting out in this business of sports writing you pay attention to everything you hear or read, but you don’t believe anything until there is confirmation. When it comes to rumors involving the Jacksonville Jaguars, fans should pay close attention to what is being said and then decipher which is fact and which is fiction.
I was asked the other night if the Jaguars had begun their “fire sale” of talent on the roster to start a massive rebuilding project that could set the team back another few seasons.
My response was a flat, “No!” The team is in a state of disarray and yes, several key players who had a hand in the success of the 2017 season are either playing for other teams or may soon be on their way out of Jacksonville. But in terms of the current font office selling off large chunks of the roster for draft capital and salary cap relief, I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Fans can infer from stories on potential trade rumors involving Calais Campbell, Brandon Linder, and Andrew Norwell and the recent news of A.J. Bouye being sent to Denver for a fourth-round pick as there will be major changes to the team in 2020.
Nothing has happened yet other than the Bouye deal. And any news of the team actively shopping quarterback Nick Foles has been met with other stories of teams making inquiries with no concrete team showing interest.
Personally, I doubt all three veterans are moved before free agency begins. If I wrong, then I’ll admit my mistake.
This has been one of the busier weeks in the off-season for this organization in some time. The potential of a trade involving defensive end Yannick Ngakoue grows with each passing day because the reality is he has stated he does not want to remain in North Florida. That could change, but it is highly unlikely.
Jacksonville needs Campbell on the field and in the locker room given what this season means. If they can rework his contract, that’s a big plus for this organization. If they cannot, then they must make moves to free up more cap space to accommodate the $15 million he is owed in 2020.
Linder has been the anchor of the offensive line. The unit as a whole may not be great, but I believe he is safe for one more season. Norwell is another subject, where he has not lived up to the huge contract he signed after 2017. It is quite possible the team will look to trade him instead of dumping him and having to eat his salary.
The situation with Ngakoue is still ever-present and the most important part of the team is domino effect this off-season. Jaguars must decide and find a trade partner before the start of free agency on March 18. There has been some talk (more like speculation) about a package deal involving Foles and the star pass rusher, but that would take a lot of work to make happen.
Jacksonville has 10 draft picks this April, with nine more in 2021. It’s hard to imagine they will keep all of them. This is where general manager David Caldwell will show whether he can play chess, making the right moves that essentially will keep his job next year. The same holds true for head coach Doug Marrone, who will have more input in player personnel decisions.
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If the Jaguars decide to trade high priced veterans, which players do they bring in through free agency and the draft to replace them?
This may not be as bad as it seems. Bouye was expected to be released based on his high salary-cap figure. While he is a starter in this league for many NFL teams, his lack of productivity last two years after a Pro Bowl season in 2017 didn’t warrant what the Jaguars we’re supposed to pay him. Getting a fourth-round pick is actually a good thing. And from rumors all over the net, trading Campbell wouldn’t warrant as much draft capital as some might think.
Rebuilding this organization isn’t going to be done in a year. The only person who has discussed the “win now” edict is owner Shad Khan. The team’s front office is proceeding with business as usual, but have clearly shown that they are moving in a different direction to try and break the cycle of two losing seasons.
Over the next couple of weeks, things here in Jacksonville will become more heated. Rumors and speculation will continue to run rampant. The front office will make decisions that fans will either love or hate. There will be a defined plan for free agency and the draft, and hopefully, everything will fit in a place with no guarantees.
Fans must understand the rumors that are out there hold some validity, but until they come to fruition they can’t be trusted to the fullest extent.
Hopefully, Caldwell and Marrone make the right moves on the game board so beloved veterans can remain part of the organization and winning can replace losing.
I said it’s hopeful. Whether it really happens hasn’t been determined yet.