Ideally, the Jacksonville Jaguars would have already signed outside linebacker Josh Allen to a long-term deal. Coming off a breakout season, the star pass rusher has proven he's the game-changer the Jags expected when they drafted him seventh overall in 2019. Yet, general manager Trent Baalke doesn't seem overly interested in getting a deal done. Here's where owner Shad Khan must pull rank and do what it takes to get Josh Allen under contract, or else run the risk of reliving 2019 once again.
Baalke told the local media during his end of the year conference that Allen will be a Jaguar in 2024. However, he has yet to begin negotiations with him and his representatives. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk then reported that Allen's camp caught wind of the remark and wasn't pleased. Rightfully so. Short of playing quarterback and coaching the defense, there's not much else Allen could do to prove he deserves a deal that reflects his status as one of the best defenders in the league.
But as good as Allen has been on and off the field, he's still waiting to get the contract he's earned. Meanwhile, teams such as the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears have wasted no time locking up Rashad Gary and Montez Sweat long-term, respectively. Allen surely watched his peers get paid and wondered what's stopping Baalke from giving him an extension.
This is where owner Shad Khan should supersede Baalke and demand Allen gets paid. Simply, the Jaguars cannot afford to have a bad relationship with their best defender. Not only do they run the risk of alienating their the locker room — as John Shipley of Sports Illustrated notes, players see how teams treat their star players — but they could also turn the situation into a big distraction in the offseason.
Defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen will be installing a new system, so he'll want his best player around team activities. Also, his teammates will be routinely bombarded with questions about Allen's contract status, so it's not hyperbole to say that his potential absence could loom big in the upcoming months. If this sounds eerily familiar, it's because the Jaguars already went through it back in 2019.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cannot afford a repeat of Jalen Ramsey and 2019
John Shipley just talked about how demoralizing was for Jaguars players to see the likes of Nick Foles and Blake Bortles get rewarded while they waited to get paid. That most definitely hurt the team's morale in 2018 and 2019, when Jacksonville won five and six games, respectively, after just making the AFC Championship in 2017.
Among the nucleus of players that made the trip to the conference championship possible was cornerback Jalen Ramsey. But instead of rewarding him, they put off negotiations. Things got so bad that instead of dealing with the situation, they traded him in 2019. It didn't get any better with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who did more than enough to earn a new contract but was also shipped out of town. And just like that, the Jaguars dismantled the core that helped them win games.
By 2020, the Jaguars had left the roster devoid of talent. Ironically, Josh Allen was one of their few game-changers left. And throughout all, he's remained in Jacksonville and played at a high level. Still, that hasn't warranted the Jaguars to act swiftly and give him a new deal. Seriously, how hard is it to give him a top-market contract? He's proven himself, and Shad Khan knows firsthand how things can end if they don't reward their star players.
When you take into account that the Jacksonville Jaguars have taken several steps forward the past two years, mishandling negotiations with Josh Allen would be a massive step back. Unless Shad Khan wants a repeat of 2019, he must make sure Allen is taken care of. If that means pulling rank, so be it.